According to the Parliamentary Monitoring Group, more than 70% of South Africa’s population will be urbanised by 2030, which calls for some innovative plans to accommodate the fast‑increasing demand
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Developers and property owners will need to be more competitive in their offering to attract purchasers and tenants, says Craig Turner of THE WATT CLUB project, a 247-unit office-to-residential conversion in the Durban inner city. “All the buildings that we are working on in city centres across the country aim to give individuals a space to thrive within central city locations.” THE WATT CLUB is Urban Lifestyle Investment’s most recent flagship development and it has made property ownership more accessible to a market that has traditionally struggled to get a foot on the property ladder.
Urban Lifestyle Investments specialises in converting existing, under-utilised buildings in city centres across the country into safe buildings with incredible technology and a choice of lifestyle amenities. With urban densification taking a front seat in the eThekwini Municipality, these new, innercity residences offer a unique take on property ownership that solves a range of challenges faced by South Africans.
“We are fortunate enough to spearhead the conversion of under-utilised, existing commercial buildings into residences that are driven by proximity, convenience, lifestyle and affordability,” says Turner. THE WATT CLUB is injecting new life into the inner city through innovative spaces with easy access to local amenities. “It unequivocally sets the standard for what large-scale inner-city rejuvenation can become,” Turner says.
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“Working with property marketing specialists, Rainmaker Marketing, we have conducted extensive market research and found that as a result of the pandemic, consumers’ mindsets have shifted significantly in terms of living and accommodation priorities,” he says. Due to Covid-19 fast-tracking the trends of working from home and co-living – consumers saw lifestyle, building amenities, security and location as key determining factors when choosing where to live. “Survey results also indicate that more emphasis is being placed on the quality of people’s living environment which means that as developers it’s, vital that we create spaces that will appeal to these needs.”
Based on research results, Urban Lifestyle Investment has purposefully pushed the boundaries with THE WATT CLUB project in Durban. They are injecting new life into an existing 17-storey building, while creating a community-focused shared economy lifestyle with 24-hour hi-tech security, facial recognition access control, gym, co-working spaces, games rooms and communal lounge areas, and a rooftop communal space with 360 degree views of the city-all for an affordable monthly cost. “By creating more appropriate post-Covid buildings with free Wi-Fi and co-working spaces, more communal and entertainment areas, we will promote the city as an address of choice.
“Taking the changing needs of consumers into consideration and deliberately implementing solutions that cater to the market, we sought to create options for new homeowners who cannot pay towards a deposit or transfer and bond costs – particularly in the aftermath of the riots and the financial strain of the pandemic,” Turner says.
Their new Rent-2-Own product is a solution that gives individuals the ability to increase a property portfolio without upfront capital, and without extending debt exposure with banks. “By creating solutions for property ownership, rather than driving the long-standing rental market demand, we will create a greater sense of ownership and pride in city dwellers, which will translate to better run and maintained city buildings,” he says.