Johannesburg – The construction of Modderfontein New City, north-east of Johannesburg, a rival future city to Sandton, has gained further momentum with the launch of the first phase of a residential development in the precinct.
The massive 1 600 hectare site was acquired by Hong Kong Stock Exchange listed property developer Shanghai Zendai from AECI 2013 for the planned R80 billion-plus mixed use development.
Anthony Diepenbroek, the chief executive of Zendai Development South Africa, said this week that more than R400 million had been invested in roads, electrical, water and sewerage infrastructure on the development site in the past 12 months, a 200-bed hospital was nearing completion adjacent to Linbro Park and they had commenced designing the planned Gautrain station.
Diepenbroek was speaking at the launch of the about R25m first phase of The Centenary, a block of 54 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments located on a site at the corner of Antwerp Road and Centenary Way, close to the proposed Modderfontein Gautrain station.
He said The Centenary was being developed adjacent to Modderfontein Golf Course and Flamingo Dam, which would eventually comprise six apartment blocks that would provide a total of about 300 apartments.
Diepenbroek said construction on the first phase of The Centenary would commence early next year with the apartments available for occupation in 2017. The timing of the construction of future phases on The Centenary would be market demand driven.
Diepenbroek said 70 percent of the development site was earmarked for residential, and there would eventually be about 70 000 apartments in higher density four- to five-storey blocks when it was completed.
But Diepenbroek said there would be almost 500ha of “green space” in the development, which would be developed over the next about 20 years.
The Centenary features modern amenities, such as acoustic solutions to soundproof windows, biometric access to each building, high speed internet and fibre optic points in every apartment, as well as back-up generators to common areas and lifts providing safety and comfort in the event of power outages.
Apartments at The Centenary range from R1.15m for one-bedroom, R2.2m for two-bedroom and R2.8m for three-bedroom apartments, including VAT, transfer duty and parking.
Diepenbroek said Zendai Development SA had to build the proposed Gautrain station at their own cost. He said the platform and underpasses were built at a cost of R55m when the property was still part of AECI and the agreement with the Gautrain Management Agency was that the developer would build the station.
Based on the cost of the Midrand Gautrain station model, it would cost about R250m to build the station, he said.
“We have commenced the design of the station and anticipate that if everything goes well construction will probably start in early 2017, with the station opening at the end of 2018,” he said.
Diepenbroek said they had already upgraded the main substation that fed the Modderfontein area at their own expense to ensure the future supply of electricity to the area, and would be establishing the entire “ring main” to take electricity on to the site.
However, Diepenbroek said they were not under any false illusions about the ability of Eskom and the new city to provide sufficient electricity to site and the objective was to be at least between 30 percent and 50 percent self sufficient for the new city’s power needs.
Diepenbroek said this would be achieved through the “smart city concept” they were focusing on, which opened the door for the use of solar and other energy alternatives.
He said there would not be any impediment in the short term to the speed at which the new city could be developed, but the fully completed development would eventually require more than 800 megawatt of power, which was one of the modules of the new power stations.
Diepenbroek said other elements of the project they were focusing on included the 180ha of developable land immediately behind Linbro Business Estate.
“It is for a mix of warehousing, residential and offices. We don’t believe there is going to be demand for offices in the short term in this area. With all the office vacancies in Sandton, decentralised offices are certainly not something we are focusing on.
“We will focus on warehousing and residential. There is an opportunity for 3 000 residential units immediately behind Linbro Business Estate overlooking the lake,” he said. Diepenbroek rejected suggestions that the slowdown in the Chinese economy would have an impact on the roll-out of the development.
“Chinese people by their very nature are long-term thinkers and the events in the Chinese economy are short-term events that clearly have an impact on the global economy.
“But they have very little impact on long-term decisions, which is what this development in Modderfontein is,” he said.