It is anticipated that the 183 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroomed apartments, starting from R 2.1 million to approximately R 22 million for a 550 square metre four-bedroomed penthouse, will be purchased by a healthy mix of upper-income buyers, who want to live, work and even retire in a secure high-rise. Those who have already purchased a home in this sectional title development are young professionals, astute investors, traditional families attracted to the nearby Crawford school and hospitals, as well as older couples wanting to downsize.
This is probably the only living arrangement where a one-size-fits-all option really works – with different members of an extended family living independently on various floors in the building, but near enough to each other.
For Saantha Naidu, chief executive of Coastlands Hotels and Resorts, his vision for The Skye is to have multiple generations living upstairs and working downstairs, with shopping facilities and restaurants closing the experiential loop.
“It is all about creating the perfect lifestyle living environment into which people can retire. And even though our demographic includes retirees and those approaching retirement age, The Skye is not an old-age home. Instead, it provides families of all ages with a welcoming child-friendly environment underpinned by world-class security measures.”
The Skye will also link to other precinct developments in the area, with Naidu and his team already engaging with developers regarding the creation of a shared space that complements the integrated community living approach.
“uMhlanga is going to be hot for a very long time. Having said that, The Skye is not an investment space but focused on a living environment. Even though Durban is a holiday town, we want this development to be a place where our residents live permanently. We do not see these apartments as something a person will buy and sell within two years,” adds Naidu.
Convenience and comfort are the key ingredients here. Phase one of the development will include apartment block living with shops and restaurants on the first floor and offices on the second, followed by six floors of apartments in the first section and nine floors of apartments in the second. The layout has been chosen to provide homeowners with the option of living upstairs, having their workspaces a few floors below and then shopping facilities, entertainment and restaurants a few floors below that. Although different, in the grand scheme of things it is by no means revolutionary.
What it is, however, is the promise of a stepless facility with drive-up access that allows vehicles to be parked near to every home. This ease of access is one of the biggest differentiators for The Skye. Residents will have large double garages connected to their apartments. Therefore, the challenges of parking in a basement are easily overcome. Additionally, because the double garages are larger than standard ones, there will also be enough space available to residents without requiring renting additional storage elsewhere.
The idea has taken off in countries like America, Australia and Singapore but is relatively new for South Africa, if not Africa per se. And by bringing it to our shores, The Skye now alters the stereotypical idea of high-rises to that of a multigenerational environment, with long- as opposed to short- or seasonal-
Traditionally, mixed-used spaces see developers reduce the size of apartments to fit as many as possible into an area. This is not an approach Naidu and his team believe in.
“The average size of our two-bedroomed apartments is 160 square metres, double that of what is currently in the market. The same holds true for our three- and four-bedroomed apartments. Each apartment will also have a courtyard offering residents even more convenience.”
The SNG Group has a strong 15-year background in commercial and retail developments, and although this is their first residential development in terms of size, they have built it as they would a commercial development.
For them, space is essential and is why they specifically chose not to build the maximum number of units, to allow additional space not usually seen in high-rise living. Even the garages are between 50 and 65 square metres, allowing for plenty of storage space, and the bonus of a courtyard more than compensates for a lack of outdoor space. Every bedroom in each unit has a corresponding bathroom, providing even more personal space for every resident, again not usually synonymous with high-rise living.
“The Skye is really about giving our customers what they want. It is our commitment to make the mixed-use space as comfortable as possible for our residents, and we are looking at everything from playing areas to prayer rooms and even an on-site security room,” says Naidu.
“We are in talks with an investment bank on the likely scenarios around investing the levies. However, there will be healthy body corporate funding from day one, due to the size of the development. To date, half of the apartments at The Skye have been sold. The Skye is about the community and families coming together. We do not believe in maximising the number of units, instead preferring to give people a quality way of life. uMhlanga has become a brand with countless growth opportunities and is the perfect platform for a concept like The Skye.”
This is integrated community living at its urban best, an extremely competitive yet very niche environment, offering a housing option a cut above the rest. Now that we have almost grasped this new way of life, the sky really is the limit.