Liberty plans 60 floor Sandton office tower

Liberty plans 60 floor Sandton office tower

Liberty Properties, owned by insurer Liberty Group, is planning a 60-storey plus office Tower in Sandton City following its over a billion rand upgrade of the precinct, but says it does not expect work to start before 2013 as tenants need to get a breather from construction.

Sandton City generates income of R600m on an annual basis from the complex and office space. Liberty Properties owns 75% of Sandton City and is the largest single asset within the property portfolio, which consists of 33 properties

“What we are doing at the moment is phase one. What we will probably have is a three phase master plan. There are plans which have to be approved by the board ... The plan is to do another phase which will include office space. The real work I would not see it starting before 2013. We need to give the centre some time to breathe,” Ogbu said.

Currently Sandton City is undergoing a facelift, scheduled to be ready by November 10 this year. With the new extension, the over three decades old Sandton City will add just over 30 000 square meters with new space for 72 tenants. The mall is expected to boast two new restaurants that will give patrons a close view of the traffic flowing on Rivonia Road.

The new space is also expected to host Spanish fashion retailer Zara and among other a big flagship store of @Home. Woolworths will also have a separate store for its Trenery and Country Road brands. Sandton City centre manager Sharon Swain said there is going to be a bit of a shift in tenancy and the plan is to host high end stores in one area.

Over the last three years Liberty Properties’ spent over R3bn upgrading Sandton City, Eastgate Mall and Mitchell Plain. Ogbu says despite the extensions the company still has a lot of demand that it can’t meet. Its vacancies across the portfolio are around 5%.Ogbu says the unit has been doing well delivering inflation beating returns.

Asked about risk of over investing Ogbu said its properties were managed conservatively and construction happened only when there was a certain level of pre-letting. Liberty Properties is also working on a $165m development in Lusaka and R300m office facility in Swaziland. It also has projects in the pipeline in Nigeria.

“We have built a strong portfolio and we have very good assets . We can look forward to solid growth going forward ... The intention is not just to grow assets but to build a strong stable business,” Ogbu added.

He said there was no appetite to list its property portfolio at the moment.

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Denny Crane

Denny Crane
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