Luyt cahses in on property mania

RUGBY doyen Louis Luyt will level his treasured beachfront home in KwaZulu-Natal to make way for an exclusive residential development.

The gracious North Coast home, transformed three years ago into a 12-suite boutique hotel, is one of the most expensive residential properties in the country and among a handful of remaining developable sites along the prime Ballito coastline.

Up to 82 upmarket sectional-title apartments will be built on the 10000m² property, starting in the next few months. The development is expected to cost more than R200-million.

Luyt’s son, Louis Luyt jnr, said this week that the decision to demolish the property, which his father built as a holiday home in the early 1980s, had been difficult.

“But you’ve got to make these decisions and look at the best way to extract value from the property, especially when you sit with astronomical rates and taxes bills,” he said.

The hotel, Ballito Manor, had not generated the level of business demanded from a property of such value, he said. The property, which also boasts two houses, is the only one with direct access to Ballito’s main swimming beach.

Luyt jnr said the new units would range from two to four bedrooms and would include “top finishes”. He declined to discuss further details of the development.

Retrenchment packages for hotel staff had been “generous”, he said, with many already placed at other hotels.

Following the demolition, Luyt jnr will rent in Shaka’s Rock while his parents will move to a rented house at Zimbali. Both families live on the property.

The Luyt development comes as Ballito’s rampant property boom finally simmers down. The coastal town experienced a boom a year ago, which led to grossly overpriced properties. Investors buying off-plan and selling later were making as much as 45% in just six months at one stage.

“We could sell two palm trees with a hanging mat for R1.5-million with a guaranteed holiday-letting income and people would have bought it,” said the managing director of Realty1 Parsons Property Group, Horst Keil.

“That kind of behaviour is definitely over. Investors with unrealistic expectations are no longer in Ballito. We’re dealing only with genuine buyers now.”

An independent property valuer, Terry Labuscagne, said buyers in Ballito, as elsewhere, were thinning out as the market “catches its breath”.

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