Woodstock's revival an investment opportunity?

CAPE TOWN - The suburb of Woodstock, just east of the Cape Town CBD, has always being colourful and somewhat defiant. During the years of the Group Areas Act, Woodstock somehow managed to keep its multiracial status and probably set the tone for what has become a bustling little suburb with much attitude. While the Woodstock revival has been on the cards for a while it is really only now that it is coming out of its shell and starting to blossom.

Having worked for two years selling property in Woodstock in the early 90s I really grew to like the suburb and the mixture of characters that call Woodstock home. Woodstock's proximity to the Cape Town CBD, UCT and Groote Schuur Hospital make it ideally suited for professors, lecturers, students, doctors and anyone wanting to live close to town or the nearby institutions and amenities.

A large part of my sales pitch, even then, was that Woodstock was developing fast and the place to invest and live. Its beautiful Victorian cottages and views from its upper streets also made it popular but it has taken a while for this bohemian suburb to realise its true potential.

The last few years have seen that development curve head up dramatically as developers are eyeing and buying properties. Rambling Victorian mansions have been renovated into offices, and large industrial developments have brought art, organic goods, trendy coffee shops, and more importantly, people to the area. Woodstock is now made up off industria, offices and retail on its lower slopes and a small, characterful, residential suburb above.

The last few years have seen an injection of cash into the precinct and Woodstock now has its own Art district, the neighbourgoods market at the old Biscuit mill is already a weekend institution and the old Bromwell hotel, also on lower Main Road has been restored to its former glory and probably surpassed it. Once home to "unsavory characters" it now boasts an outdoor bar and up market boutique mall.

Just around the corner the new Graffiti hotel is taking shape and above the Main Road, the Roodebloem Manor was bought by chartered accountants, Moore Stephens, who renovated the Victorian beauty to house its local office there. Add to that many other small businesses and restaurants that reside in the area and you get one vibey little suburb.

Afzel Balla of Marks' Real Estate, who sells property in the area said he has

noticed "a vast improvement in the amount of properties sold in the Woodstock area over the past few years".

"The type of buyers varies from architects who are interested in renovating property to investment buyers who are interested in Woodstock for residential and commercial purposes. The latter vary from preachers with investment needs to students wanting to live close to campus yet be close to all other amenities as well.

The reasons why Woodstock has become the new hotspot relate to the fact that Cape Town is expanding in Woodstock's direction and to the fact that people within Woodstock itself have been paying for the improvement of the area."

According to Warren Thackeray of Rawson Properties, buyers range from young professionals to first time buyers as well as investors. "Woodstock, University Estate and Walmer Estate are close to the CBD and housing is still reasonably priced in these areas as opposed to the CBD," said Thackeray.

Woodstock is ideally placed between the city and the suburbs, with easy access to highways, and it was just a matter of time before its potential was realised. Woodstock is still much more affordable compared to the city bowl but that gap may be starting to close.

Article by: Barry Washkansky - www.realestateweb.co.za