The buzz of development is all happening in Waterfall, which is – according to developers – the latest growth node and future CBD of Gauteng. Waterfall sprawls from Modderfontein in the east to beyond Kyalami in the west, and is evolving into a lifestyle and blue-chip business destination.
The Mall of Africa, co-owned by Atterbury Property Developers and Attacq Ltd, is the hub of the 323-hectare Waterfall City development project, which, it is estimated, will cost R71 billion to complete. Developers predict that – when it is completed in 10 years – it will be larger than the Sandton and Johannesburg CBDs combined.
The R4.9 billion, 131,038-square-metre mall, located at the Allandale interchange on the N1 highway, will house every conceivable brand, from Versace, H&M and Cotton On to Game, Woolworths and Mr Price, as well as some international firsts, such as Zara Home and Armani Exchange.
A three-hectare Waterfall Park adjacent to the mall features 3,868 square metres of planted garden and 5,715 square metres of open space – lawns, amphitheatres, a staging area and exhibition, market space and recreational spaces.
The development has contributed to a mini property boom in the area, partly because of the shopping traffic created by it, says Charl van Niekerk, marketing manager of Central Developments Property Group, a prominent residential property developer in Kyalami, within the broader Midrand area.
“There’s always been a high demand for property in Midrand, because it’s convenient for people working in both Pretoria and Johannesburg, but with the Mall of Africa, property adverts are being seen by a far wider spectrum of people. It has increased awareness, and that’s partly why we’re seeing a peak in demand.”
Balancing the Mall of Africa experience with a more sedate shopping offering is Waterfall Corner, which opened in 2014. It’s a modern, largely open-air centre with a piazza and is anchored by Checkers, Woolworths and Clicks as well as a selection of hand-picked stores and restaurants, targeted for the affluent residents of Waterfall Hills and Waterfall Valley mature lifestyle villages, Waterfall Equestrian Estate and Waterfall Country Estate and Country Village.
Corporates are the economic engine of modern Midrand. Adjoining the Mall of Africa is the recently opened 26-storey PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Tower, comprising 40,000 square metres of modern offices for 3,500 employees. The PwC Tower is the tallest building in Midrand, and is visible from almost anywhere within a 30 kilometre radius.
Other new corporate developments include the new South African HQ for Hilti, with its 2,000 square metres of offices and around 1,800 square metres of warehouse space; healthcare products company Covidien, consisting of a 2,000-square metre office component and a 10,500-square-metre warehouse section; and also Torre Lifting Solutions, Dimension Data (facility division) and Amrod, all constructed by Atterbury. They join well-known Midrand corporate HQs such as Norvartis SA, Group Five, Vodacom and Northam Platinum.
Waterfall Country Estate, a stunning 640-hectare security estate between Woodmead and Kyalami, attracts top-end rentals from people associated with these businesses. ‘Since more corporates have moved into Midrand, the market has been very dynamic for us. Rentals average around R38,000 a month, and homes in the estate are top-end, costing up to R52 million,’ says sales agent Jessica van der Walt.
Meanwhile, construction started earlier this year on Old Mint Park, a prime industrial development fronting the N1 highway between Midrand and Centurion, directly opposite the future Samrand Gautrain station. The R800-million project is a joint venture between Atterbury and Old Mutual Properties, and entails the development of a new 65,000-square-metre industrial park. ‘Old Mint Park’s prime position in a major established and growing business node central to the Gauteng business hub makes it a great asset for business. It benefits from excellent connections to major transport routes, sweeping highway visibility and convenient surrounding residential, education and healthcare facilities,’ says Atterbury development manager Derrick Pautz.
Transport presents a predictable challenge as Midrand booms, with traffic becoming increasingly heavy on the Allandale Road and New Road exits. To alleviate it, developers are hoping people will increasingly use public transport, such as taxis and the Gautrain buses travelling to and from Midrand Gautrain station. There are also dedicated Uber pick-up and drop-off points at the Mall of Africa, a first in a South African retail development.
In addition, Atterbury Property Development has built a new overpass bridge crossing the N1 highway, and carrying four lanes of traffic, as well as a pedestrian walkway and a cycle lane. This creates a new east-west transport route linking Midrand and Waterfall City.
So for Gautengers who’ve routinely whizzed past Midrand on the way to Pretoria or Johannesburg over many years, it’s all quite mindboggling. It’s the inevitable consolidation of two cities in what will ultimately become a 50-kilometre expanse of urban development.
Attendant to the rash of commercial and residential developments in Midrand is the proliferation of eateries and chilled things to do. The well-known restaurant chains are all in Midrand now, but one of the most vibey over weekends is definitely Life Grand Cafe, in Waterfall Corner.
Indeed, diners in the wider Midrand area are spoilt for choice now, with eateries like Col’Cacchio in Dainfern Square, Imbizo Shisanyama Busy Corner in Ebony Park, Milhaus in Kyalami on Main shopping centre, Kream in Mall of Africa, and Windmill on Main in Kyalami (which sells organic produce grown on its property) all getting excellent reviews.
Riversands Farm Village, once a quick stopover to buy home-made chicken pies, is now a leisure centre, with food stalls, a play centre and its own craft brewery. On weekends when there’s live music and other big music events, it really comes alive.