Rosebank enjoys Gautrain boom

THERE is a development explosion taking place in Rosebank, with the catalyst being the Gautrain station that is taking shape in Oxford Road.
The question now is whether the Gautrain station will restore Rosebank, a popular mixed-use precinct in Johannesburg, to its former position as one of the top nodes in the city.

There appears to be far more development taking place in Rosebank than the more illustrious Sandton.

First National Bank property strategist John Loos says it is possible the growth in developments in Rosebank “is stronger or is set to be stronger than Sandton in the coming years because Rosebank comes off a much lower base”.

Loos says Rosebank had fallen into some neglect over the past few decades and that this has made it probably cheaper, on average, than Sandton from a property point of view.

“With Sandton being so expensive, it stands to reason that people would look for alternatives both from a business node point of view and residential node point of view, which still offer accessibility to Sandton and the CBD (central business district),” Loos says.

Loos believes that other stops along the Gautrain corridor are set to become popular places to live, as well as to set up offices because the Gautrain offers great accessibility to two of the country’s big business nodes, Sandton and the central business district.

“My view is that one will get a lot of developments and property values will sky rocket in years to come near the stops along the Gautrain line.”

Brian Azizollahoff, CEO of Redefine Income Fund, which previously had large property holdings in the area, says the company thinks Rosebank is an “area which is certainly going to show growth”.

“It’s going to be an important mixed-use node,” he says.

Azizollahoff says Redefine, which still owns the 2 Arnold Road office block in Rosebank, has also sold a number of properties to the likes of Standard Bank and Old Mutual.

“We sold Rosebank Arena to Standard Bank who are going to be doing a very large development for themselves. I believe it is going to be their regional head office building. We recently sold the Standard Bank branch building along Cradock (Avenue ) past the (Rosebank) mall. That we sold to Old Mutual.”

There are plans to create residential property all along the Gautrain route and he says Rosebank will be one of the main mixed-use precincts in Johannesburg. “It’s a well-established area with very good infrastructure. It’s not as dense as Sandton, for example. Access into and out of the area is easier than Sandton.” He says Rosebank has a “public green area” and mature vegetation with a lot of restaurants that spill onto the streets. This creates a “more cosmopolitan feel” in the area.

Erwin Rode, property economist at Rode & Associates, says that 20 to 25 years ago Rosebank was one of the top decentralised nodes in Johannesburg, but that about 10 years ago it had a slump caused by crime and grime.

“Since then it has never recovered its top spot although it has been stabilised and is to this day one of the top nodes. Now of course, the Gautrain station has given it another kick,” says Rode.

The problem looking into the long-term future of Rosebank is whether the station will continue to be a bonus because there is a danger that, like most stations in SA, it might attract more crime and grime.

“I know the Gautrain is planned to be an upmarket transport mode, but there is a real danger that eventually the train will be downgraded. It’s all dependent on what the Gautrain becomes. It could be a long-term support system but equally it could become a long-term underminer of the health of the node,” says Rode.

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