A LOCAL BUSINESSMAN has forked out a cool R25,4m for a lavish penthouse apartment at Melrose Arch, more than double the previous sales record achieved at the trendy mixed-use precinct north of Johannesburg. The 800sq m unit was bought off plan earlier this month prior to the official launch in March of what will be Melrose Arch’s third residential phase. The R400m development will comprise 59 luxury apartments to be built adjacent to the Protea group’s new Fire and Ice Hotel, bringing the total number of residential units at Melrose Arch to 180. The new units are sized from 95sq m to around 800sq m, with asking prices stretching from R3,4m to R25,4m. That translates into an average rand/sq m rate of R32 000. Mark Uhlmann, GM of the commercial property division of Melrose Arch Investment Holdings, says it’s the first time asking prices have exceeded R20m, which is indicative of how desirable the work, live and play lifestyle offered by the mixed-use enclave has become. Uhlmann says the previous highest price for an apartment was R12,5m for a unit sized around 350sq m. Although the R25,4m sale places Melrose Arch as one of Johannesburg’s priciest residential real estate destinations, the Legacy group’s new Da Vinci development on Sandton’s Nelson Mandela Square still holds the record for the highest price ever achieved for an apartment in Gauteng. A 650sq m penthouse was sold for a staggering R50m (around R77 000/sq m) at year-end 2009. Before that, neighbouring Michelangelo Towers held the record with a 500sq m unit changing hands for R35m (R70 000/sq m). Despite the upward march of luxury apartment prices in Johannesburg’s exclusive sectional title developments, Jozi generally still offers better value than Cape Town. Top-end luxury penthouse apartments with all the bells and whistles at the V&A Waterfront’s marina area will set you back more than R90 000/sq m.For example, Pam Golding Properties currently has a 319sq m penthouse in the newly built Pembroke building up for grabs at R29,5m (or R92 476/sq m). Sol Kerzner’s six star One&Only Waterfront hotel made headlines in 2008 when a 1 076sq m penthouse was sold for R108m (R100 371/ sq m) – the highest price achieved to date for a sectional title property in SA.