Three apartment blocks near Bloemfontein’s CBD have been converted into safe and affordable shared accommodation aimed at students
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Three adjoining apartment blocks in downtown Bloemfontein now offers shared accommodation for up to 300 residents. Developed by Ruben Moggee and Theuns Myburgh, directors of Dimatone Pty Ltd, and managed by a family‑owned trust, this innovative project aims to help meet the increasing demand for cost‑effective, secure and multi‑purpose living in one of South Africa’s fastest growing student centres.
A helping hand
With five conversions under their belt, developing student accommodation from traditional residential properties is nothing new for Moggee and Myburgh. This project, however, was their biggest to date and required some assistance.
“While the apartment blocks presented us with an incredible opportunity, we felt it was too large a transaction to bite off on our own,” says Moggee. “Using our existing properties as collateral, we partnered with commercial property financier TUHF Limited for assistance. In such a short space of time, and despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, we launched the accommodation last month.”
Moggee says that without the assistance of TUHF, none of this would have been possible. “Our relationship with TUHF is not a traditional, transactional one. Instead, it’s a true partnership where they’ve been supportive and understanding of the challenges posed by the pandemic. This will definitely not be our last project with them,” says Moggee.
The three blocks consisting of 78 apartments, are situated next to Bloemfontein’s renovated SARS offices and have communal off‑street parking behind the buildings. The majority of the blocks’ refurb focused on redesigning the interior and included ripping out old carpets to restore the original parquet flooring, and installing new fittings and finishes.
In terms of the block’s overall look and feel, the developers kept the design elements consistent throughout the building and in line with the style of the commercial tenants on the ground floor. As part of the renovation process, each apartment is fully furnished and includes a fridge, microwave, stove, beds, desks for studying purposes, and storage space for books. Uncapped Wi-Fi is available throughout the buildings.
According to Moggee, the floor space of existing student accommodation and new builds are extremely small. Their three renovated apartment blocks, in contrast, offer airy, spacious rooms – a desirable combination for students and young professionals. “It really needs to feel as if it’s a home away from home,” says Moggee.
Accommodation comprises a choice of bachelor or one‑bedroom flats, and two- and three-bedroom apartments. “We’re in the process of establishing several recreational areas for residents featuring televisions, a pool table and table tennis, as well as an outside braai area,” says Moggee. The blocks will also have a common laundry area for washing and drying. “With security critically important for tenants’ peace of mind, we have introduced physical access gates, cameras throughout the buildings, and biometric scanners for access control.”
The apartments comply with specifications from tertiary institutions including recreational areas to relax and socialise on site. “This fits the mixed-use zoning and character of the blocks perfectly as minimal to no configuration changes are required,” says Moggee.
Opportunities for growth
The apartments’ existing tenants were given first choice to stay. Some wanted to remain and embrace multi-purpose living, while others found alternative housing and were given as much time as they needed to move out during last year. “Our existing team of managers oversee the rental aspect of the accommodation while we focus on the renovations,” says Moggee. “We also have a close working relationship with NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme), so we know exactly how to structure our agreements to benefit students from a rates perspective.” All the apartments are fully let.