New life for Newgate in Johannesburg CBD

The first of nearly 500 residential tenants have moved into Newgate, the latest affordable residential precinct to take root in Johannesburg's inner city, South Africa's largest metropolis. Refurbishment of the eleven-storey 25 000m2 building got underway at the beginning of 2012. Newgate originally served as an office building for a number of years and also housed a retail centre that included a cinema complex. The building now comprises a healthy mix of retail and residential space explains Lael Bethlehem, Head of Real Estate Investments at Standard Bank Group. The residential component is divided between eight residential floors situated in the north façade of the building and six residential levels in the south façade, which collectively amount to 216 bachelor and one bedroom rental units. Most of these units enjoy expansive views over the city.

Originally wholly owned by Standard Bank Group, the decision was taken to revitalise the building through an R80 million Joint Venture with Afhco (the Affordable Housing Company). Standard Bank Group and Afhco each own 50% of the building and are partners in the development. Mr Renney Plit, Chairman and COO of Afhco, says: "We are excited around the opportunity that comes with a development of this nature. There is a lot of demand for secure and reasonably priced rental housing in this market. Newgate is a prime example of where this can be successfully met. We were pleased to have partnered with Standard Bank on this development."

Standard Bank Group, which maintains head offices in the Johannesburg central business district (CBD), has been a long-time champion of the CBD and its immediate surrounding areas and has been involved in a number of restoration projects in the inner-city. Ms Bethlehem says the units are well designed and each unit boasts quality, modern fittings such as granite kitchen counter tops, fitted cookers, built in cupboards and high- end sinks, baths and taps. Every unit also comes with pre-fitted window blinds. Each apartment is supplied by metered water, and the hot water supply is heated by economical, energy efficient heat pumps. Prepaid electricity meters have been fitted in every unit and tenants are able to plug into pre-fitted DSTV aerials, log into wireless internet, or make use of the private telephone provided in each unit.

Ms Bethlehem says low energy ambient lights have been fitted in the apartments and common areas and light sensors have been installed in the passages which will help reduce the building's costs. Energy efficient lifts have also been installed. Ms Bethlehem says low energy ambient lights have been fitted in the apartments and common areas and light sensors have been installed in the passages which will help reduce the building's costs. Energy efficient lifts have also been installed. In terms of security arrangements, Ms Bethlehem says Standard Bank Group and Afhco take this aspect very seriously as the success of such projects rides heavily on their ability to keep tenants safe and prevent overcrowding. "Tenants will be able to access their units via a guarded, biometric access area located on the first floor."

Rentals are attractive, especially given the excellent location of the building. Rentals start at R1750 for the smallest unit, rising to around R3000 for the largest unit. Standard Bank Group and leading inner city housing and commercial developers Afhco have partnered to make Newgate a reality.

"Standard Bank is seeing a lot of demand for affordably priced accommodation of this nature in the city centre. As such, we wanted to provide units which not only meet this requirement but will provide tenants with a sense of belonging and dignity." Newgate also boasts 616 parking bays and a 7500m2 retail centre located on the lower levels. The centre includes a 2200m2 Cambridge Supermarket which has been very wellsupported by commuters and shoppers in the area. The Centre also offers medical suites, a post office and will soon have a 1700m2 brand new gym.

"We were really thrilled to have Cambridge as a retail anchor because they are very much in tune with the emerging market which includes many of our tenants. "Standard Bank expects the entire residential component to be fully let by April 2013," says Ms Bethlehem. Newgate is located between Jeppe and Bree Streets opposite Bree Street Taxi Rank, on the periphery of Newtown, Johannesburg. Founded in 1996, Afhco is a leading investor, developer, and manager of affordable housing and commercial property in theJohannesburg inner-city. The group has delivered over 5 500 affordable housing units in the Johannesburg inner-city and has been instrumental in upgrading and converting derelict high rise buildings. Afhco is also the leader in community development and regeneration through the creation of improvement districts within the inner-city, by addressing both social and schooling issues, and by lobbyingCouncil to assist with public space upgrades and service delivery. For further information on Afhco go to

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