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Traffic takes backseat in exclusive Steyn City

Mar 05 2015 15:06
Matthew le Cordeur

Johannesburg – Cars take a backseat in the sprawling estate of Steyn City Lifestyle Resort, which was officially unveiled to media on Thursday.

Watch: The grand tour of Steyn City

South African billionaire Douw Steyn’s dream to turn the vacant land bordering two townships north of Fourways in Johannesburg into a place of luxurious freedom has become a reality, nearly 15 years after he approached Giuseppe Plumari, who had this land on his property portfolio.

List: 10 things you didn't know about Steyn City

Plumari, now the CEO of Steyn City Properties, told media that cars weren’t a factor in their central planning of the estate. “The roads belong to the pedestrians,” he told media in an upmarket coffee shop on the estate. “We have evolved into what we are today, but effectively the roads have been taken over by cars. We are little islands among a sea of traffic.”

Read: Steyn City to invest another R50bn for next phase to create a new way of living

“We got huge inspiration from cities of old,” he said. “There they have communities of pedestrian living. Having observed these cities, it became evident that the biggest attraction was the human scale of the developments.”

This open style of living will allow residents to interact with their neighbours and enjoy the numerous open spaces, paved boulevards, running and cycle tracks, skate park, outdoor gym areas and The Club at the Jack Nicklaus designed golf course.

A city like no other

Steyn City is six times the size of Sandton City, four times the size of Monaco and two and a half tims the size of Central Park in New York.

The estate will officially open next week for business, where people can buy ready-made houses and flats or land to build on.

The 810ha estate will have two city centres that will be open to the public and will rival some of the biggest shopping centres in Johannesburg.

“There is no development on the continent that I know of, that compares in size and infrastructure to Steyn City,” said Plumari.

“This will allow residents to enjoy an unparalleled array of leisure activities and create a unique quality of life that has long been out of the reach of most South Africans, due to high walls, the need to commute and security concerns.

“Douw Steyn’s name is carved in stone here and I think I’ve left a footprint,” said Plumari.

Watch the full interview with Plumari:

He begins the interview by answering a question about how Steyn and Nelson Mandela's friendship had influenced a commitment to help the poor in neighbouring townships.

Engaging with the poor

Steyn City has come under criticism in the past for creating an opulent estate on the doorstep of communities living in poverty in badly maintained townships, where people battle with jobs and the expense of travelling long distances to work.

“We are close to less fortunate communities than us such as Diepsloot and Cosmo City, where we have created 11 500 jobs and opportunities to needy people of their communities on their doorstep,” said Plumari. “It is so expensive for them to get to work so for them to come to work in Steyn City will give them much relief on their income.

“We invested huge money on public infrastructure outside Steyn City such as on the William Nicole Drive,” he said.

Steyn, an ANC benefactor, made a deal with the government to relocated 20 000 residents from Zevenfontein to Cosmo City in order to obtain land that was not part of the existing property portfolio.

Bafana Mokwena was one of those who agreed to relocate. But he sought a meeting with the leaders of Steyn City to ask what they were going to do for him.

They had been looking for someone to head up the Skills Centre, a development centre to train the community in various skills. Mokwena jumped at the opportunity and now heads up the centre, which trains 40 workers per month.

“Giuseppe emphasised that Douw was passionate about opening this centre,” Mokwena said. “Douw and Madiba [Nelson Mandela] had a friendship that dated a long time back,” he said. “Today the skills centre is a reflection of that friendship.

“We have a commitment to help our people,” he said. “We upgraded the R511 with dedicated pedestrian lanes. There were many accidents before this as many labourers use this road. Now they are safe when they come to work. We will supply water from Steyn City to Diepsloot. I applaud Steyn City’s upliftment programme for job creation.

“You must remember that one breadwinner feeds five to six people in a household,” he said. “It is important to have such developments. We applaud Mr Steyn for reinvesting in South Africa. Not many people who have made it, would invest such money.

“I am a successful businessman – not like Douw, but in my own right – thanks to the opportunity I was given to work here,” he said. “This is the beginning of many opportunities as we are entering our second phase.

“It’s the future for more models to be developed within our areas,” he said.

Take a visual tour of the estate:

* Steyn City paid for the travel costs for the tour.

steyn city  |  douw steyn  |  property


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