Converting empty offices into flats a growing trend - vacancies at 16-year high

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Cape Talk

The Covid pandemic is changing the way we work. Africrest Properties is set to embark on one of largest conversions in SA.

After nearly 10 months of lockdown, South Africa has 2.4 million square metres of empty office available.

An October 2020 survey (South African Property Owners Association, Sapoa) showed office vacancies at a 16-year high of 12.7%.

No wonder then the growing trend to convert unused office space for residential use.

In one of the latest conversions, private developer and landlord Africrest Properties has announced it will adapt office space of nearly 30,000m² for residential use.

PwC’s Joburg headquarters in Sunninghill will be converted into 700 units.

Bruce Whitfield gets the lowdown from Justin Blend (Director, Africrest Properties), who says they only recently took ownership of the old PwC building.

Finding the right properties to convert is not easy says Blend.

In the case of the PwC building, the space is suited for residential purposes with little common areas that are unusable.

The total value of this project is about R219 million. We also own a building across the road which we've already developed to just over 200 apartments and we purchased another office park just down the road. The rental apartments start at R5,000 a month, with the use of "world-class" facilities like soccer courts and gyms.

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