Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Houghton golf estate has high hopes

I don't know why South Africans can't accept integration," he says. "In London and around the world, you have wealthier suburbs up against poorer ones with no effect on price. - David Nagle, the publicity-shy Anglo-Irish developer

SHOOT: Maybe South Africa is slightly different to London. For example, crime is a problem in South Africa. And crime is associated with low income housing/property. You may be prepared to pay millions for a swanky pad until you find its residents are raped, murdered and the contents pillaged. After that, the perceived value drops precipitously. In this context Melrose Arch remains streets ahead of the conventional (read: Old Hat) single purpose urbanism of The Houghton. Melrose Arch has a multidisciplinary approach that is sadly lacking throughout Johannesburg, South Africa and the rest of the world. It's alos known as New Urbanism. Go to Wikipedia to find out more.

My prediction is that unless the developers radically change their concept to a more affordable solution, the hulking monster on Osborne Road will be around in its present shape for quite some time.

The skeleton of what is intended to be Johannesburg's most dramatic residential development looms over Houghton golf club. The project was halted four months ago. It's likely to stay that way until next year, as will many more properties starved of credit.

But David Nagle, the publicity-shy (he refused to be photographed) Anglo-Irish developer, has quietly been at work finishing off the new Jack Nicklaus-designed course and the R40m clubhouse. They should be ready by the end of the year. He's been visiting SA for some years and this is his first development in the country.

"It's a matter of pride," says Nagle of the millions he and his fellow investors - PG Glass's Ronnie Lubner and Softline CEO Ivan Epstein - are paying from their own pockets to support the commitment of their development company, Asvid. They've already poured R500m into the development.

But Nagle sees no reason to change his concept.
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