Category Archives: Sandton

Rivonia and Sunninghill Suburb Profile

rivonia squareRivonia has had significant roles to play in Johannesburg’s history, variously as a farming area, mink & manure belt, to upmarket suburban area, to commercial property node. Together with its junior partner Sunninghill, Rivonia has become known as something of an IT hub with promising rentals for property investors.

Sunninghill, considered to be both commercial and residential, is bordered by what used to be Johannesburg’s outlying suburbs of Kyalami and Woodmead, now commercial nodes in their own right. Once open land is now occupied by residential complexes and businesses.  The N1 forms Sunninghill’s southern boundary with access via the Rivonia off-ramp.

Sunninghill has a large concentration of offices, mainly in the form of office parks, including Sunninghill Office Park, Unisys Park, The Crescent and Ariel Office Park. A growing residential demand and an Inadequate road infrastructure has been the biggest disadvantage for the development of the node, with Witkoppen Road and Rivonia Road suffering from severe traffic congestion. Significantly the new K60 has been laid out through the centre of the suburb. This should assist enormously.

Buses and minibus taxis provide public transport on the main arterials. Further road upgrading is underway, and continues to be necessary. Pedestrian connections between offices and shopping facilities have been planned, though continuous pedestrian linkages are still lacking.  A number of high-density residential developments are emerging in the node. The node has limited social and community facilities. One of Johannesburg’s better hospitals, Netcare group’s Sunninghill Hospital is located in the area. There are also a number of religious facilities, pre-schools and a post office

Rivonia lies between the Braamfontein Spruit and the Sandspruit, and was the location of Liliesleaf Farm, where in 1963 many of the accused in the notorious Rivonia Treason Trial were arrested. A Carmelite Convent, accommodating Carmelite Nuns, sat in the centre of the village until displaced by commercial pressures.  In a commemorative move, the large shopping centre first built on the site was named The Cloisters.  The main retail thoroughfare in the area, Rivonia Boulevard, is the location of several shopping complexes as well as many other shops and restaurants.

Rivonia and Sunninghill are lumped together by brokers and others in the real estate business for practical reasons. They have much in common both being outlying suburbs of Sandton, and intermeshed with each other’s economies. Together they are considered an IT hub. For example, Hewlett Packard’s main Southern Africa and South Africa offices are located here as is the registered office of Fujitsu South Africa. Companies located in Sunninghill include Acer, Eskom, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, CA, AstraZeneca, RCI and Unisys.

Primary shopping centres in Sunninghill include Chilli Lane, comprising better known retailers such as Woolworths, Pick ‘n Pay and a Virgin Active gym; The Core including offices and restaurant retailers; Sunninghill Shopping Centre comprising speciality restaurants and retailers Spar and Woolworths. Low rentals and good value in Sunninghill resulted in a number of large users taking up space in 2012. The area continues to be popular with small to medium businesses.

Recently a few modern individual buildings have been developed. Refurbishment of older office parks and buildings continues. Most notable would be 345 Rivonia Boulevard, Tuscany Office Park, Homestead Office Park and Bentley Office Park. The need for office space is on-going, mostly  from private, medium-sized businesses and owner-occupiers. As these businesses grow, they will require more space.

According to Broll Research a peak of R125sqm gross was reached for rentals of prime-grade offices back in 2008.However as 2009 hit, rentals began to drop to R115sqm before making an upward movement. Prime-grade gross rentals are now looking fixed at R125sqm. Average rentals for A-grade offices are between R85 and R100sqm gross. Vacancies are fluctuating due to disruptive road-works on the main thoroughfare – Rivonia Road.

So as things stand demand remains steady to flat as do sales and supply. The space that reports to be in demand is from 150-1000sqm; Cap rate 9-10%; Lease escalation 9-10 % and Operation cost escalation is pegged at 10-11%. [Stats courtesy Broll]

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Sandton Builds a Park

It may seem hard to believe but amongst all that high priced real estate in Sandton’s CBD someone made room for a park. But it’s taken the involvement of no small amount of players for green to shine out of that grey concrete jungle.

The Sandton Central Management District (SCMD) has had the intention of creating and maximising use out of the area’s public spaces for some time now.  Johannesburg City Parks handed over a tract of land on the corner of Grayston and Sandton Drives last year and nearly forty indigenous trees were planted to seal the deal as it were.

The current name of the park is deceptive: Sandton Central Park is actually on the very edge of the CBD on the border with Parkmore. Depending on your level of fitness and the length of your lunch break, the park is within walking distance of quite a few Sandton office blocks (SA Brewries for example) and hotels. It may seem a little out of the way to some given that it’s at the bottom of quite a steep hill.

Much is being made of Sandton CBD’s carbon foot print and how much the park will bring some relief in that regard. SCMD city improvement district manager Paul Van Rooyen has been quoted as saying: “We adopted an eco-friendly approach and developed a recreational area that will not only serve as an addition to Sandton Central, but something that will also mitigate Sandton Central’s carbon footprint,”

Carbonworx CEO Mark Smith says that the initiative will put the Sandton precinct on the international map because of its providing a platform for climate change, the community and biodiversity in general.  (Carbonworx, which has its hand all matters green, is choosing indigenous trees for the project.) Ambassadors for Carbonworx, top South African rock band The Parlotones, also attended the tree planting ceremony to promote the CarbonWorx drive, which invites people to calculate their carbon footprint and buy trees to offset their impact.

Urban Genesis which claims to be a pioneer in urban management renewal,  manages  the SCMD. Its core business being the establishment and management of improved city districts.

The first phase of the development of the park will involve the important and strategic placement of trees and shrubbery. From there a very specialised sculpting of the landscape will be put in motion as well as the equipping of seating areas and a children’s recreation zone. Further to this, well paved paths and a jogging trail are planned.  For those who won’t be walking to the park from nearby offices or the adjacent residential area of Parkmore, secure parking is to be arranged.

The project is sponsored by Standard Bank and a partnership exists between Johannesburg City Parks, SCMD and marketing company Smile Media, which arranged the park’s hosting of income generating  advertisement signs. The earnings of the advertising will cover a three-year maintenance management agreement.

Johannesburg City Parks senior manager Oscar Oliphant has been quoted as saying that this open space has been due for a facelift for some time. It’s clear that the park will have a significant greening effect and be a way for business in the area to give back in attempting to reduce the carbon footprint of the CBD. The spin off for the local residential community is also a plus.