DEVELOPER REDEFINES CITY LIVING
BRAAMFONTEIN in Joburg is a hive of activity as foreign visitors have taken residence in upmarket accommodation in the city centre during the Fifa World Cup.
According to Aengus Property Management (APM) chief executive officer Richard Rubin, a number of units are booked out for the duration of the tournament - an unprecedented amount for non-hoteliers.
APM administers more than 2000 stylish apartments in central Johannesburg.
"We've accommodated more than 320 people in our apartments, a lot of them are overseas visitors from as far away as Europe and South America and all the apartments are booked out for the duration of the World Cup," says Rubin.
"In one of our buildings we are accommodating a group of journalists, editors and a camera crew from abroad. They have been staying here since April. We have also allocated rooms as far back as last year specifically for the World Cup."
Rubin adds that so far APM units have been booked out for the duration of the tournament but a number of guests have chosen to stay for longer, either before or after the World Cup.
"We have traditionally focused on the rental and property management side of the business, but the World Cup could open up new opportunities for APM in the hospitality sector."
Rubin says the feedback they are receiving about Braamfontein and the World Cup has been amazing. He says visitors are enjoying a mixture of developments, including one and two-bed and apartments.
"This meant that we could offer visitors affordable, high-end accommodation all within a 2km radius of Ellis Park Stadium and just 12 minutes from Soccer City in Nasrec."
He adds that most visitors are also blown away by the safety of the area and the fact that it straddles Jan Smuts Avenue and Empire Road, which provide quick access to main arterial highways.
"Most of them were attracted to the buildings because it is close to the Civic Theatre, Nelson Mandela Bridge, Constitutional Hill and Newtown Precint. The area also offers visitors a range of attractions and activities, from restaurants to art galleries, nightclubs and retail shops."
Rubin says it has been a pleasure for his company to showcase the city's attractions to hundreds of foreign visitors.
"Our buildings are a melting pot where soccer fans from different nations are enjoying the excitement of the World Cup in style at an affordable price."
APM has over the past few years transformed former office blocks in the Braamfontein area into modern and fashionable apartments.
Rubin's tenants have not experienced any crime. He says all of their buildings offer superior security, with biometric fingerprint access and 24-hour guarding.
"Most foreigners say they were told that Braamfontein was one of the safest and most convenient places in Johannesburg.
"The South African Police Service have been very cooperative in securing the area for international guests, we have also employed additional private security around our buildings to ensure the safety of visitors during the soccer tournament."
Historically, APM's buildings in the Braamfontein area have mostly been let out to young professionals working in the city and student tenants attending university at nearby campuses.
Rubin says in 2008 they decided to upgrade and revive a number of dilapidated student buildings in Braamfontein.
He says they have transformed an entire block called The Argyle Precinct (within walking distance of the Wits Campus) into 427 up-market, one-bedroom and studio apartments designed with student living in mind.
"The World Cup coincides conveniently with student vacations, so we were able to rent out these rooms to visitors instead," Rubin says.
"We are well on the way to developing Apart-Hotels, which are hotels made up of individual apartments. There are a few hotel groups who have shown interest in ourbuildings."
While landlords in the suburbs are taking considerable strain, thinking what is going to happen after the World Cup, APM is sitting pretty.
With a reputation for converting inner city properties around Braamfontein, Ruben says, because of the World Cup rejuvenation, students will enjoy more comfort.
The units are classier, complete with high quality finishes such as granite kitchen counters and wooden flooring.
"We were one of the first developers to incorporate additional luxuries such as gym, Wi-fi access and plasma TVs as part of the deal. For the World Cup, we invested in upgrading the facilities, including constructing gyms, convenience stores and restaurants."
Rubin adds that students are becoming more discerning and demanding value for money in the accommodation they choose.