Emira Property Fund is investing in the upgrade, redevelopment and expansion of its properties in Gauteng as part of its ongoing national programme of enhancing its real estate assets. Emira CEO Geoff Jennett, says: “We’re investing strategically and recycling capital to strengthen our assets with tactical upgrades that unlock value. This improves the quality and attractiveness of our portfolio of properties and creates value that extends beyond our assets.”
Emira’s assets comprise 146 properties valued at R13 billion. Emira is a diversified mid-cap REIT (real estate investment trust) invested in a quality balanced portfolio of office, retail and industrial properties. It is also internationally diversified through its 4.9% direct holding in ASX-listed GOZ, valued at R942,7 million. Combined, its total assets come to R14 billion.
The JSE-listed REIT’s recent R65 million upgrade of five commercial buildings in Kramerville, Sandton, has injected them with new life and boosted the resurgence of this popular creative hub.
Previously named Sandgate Office Park, Emira had planned to sell the 80s-built B-grade offices that were struggling to find tenants. Yet, with the surrounding area experiencing a revival of interest as a design and décor quarter, Emira saw the potential to refurbish these properties into its classy and contemporary new showroom space at Kramerville Corner.
“The benefits of this upgrade have been tremendous,” says Jennett.
“Kramerville Corner is now significantly let to premium tenants. The rentals achieved have doubled, the average lease expiry has improved fourfold and the value of the property has increased beyond our investment in the project.”
The big change achieved with the refurbishment was the increase of the buildings’ showroom space from 32% of gross lettable area to 84%. The revamp also added 1,375sqm of gross lettable area.
The buildings were given dazzling new glazed shopfronts and earthy natural finishes.
Emira also looked beyond its buildings to the surrounding urban fabric. It added raised and covered walkways, realigned the main street and transformed it into an inviting tree-lined, pedestrian-friendly boulevard with carefully chosen street furniture, signage and parking layouts. The new design also makes the building’s operations more efficient. It introduced lower-energy lighting and air-conditioning throughout and a consolidated waste management plan for all the buildings at Kramerville Corner.
In Midrand, Emira upgraded Lone Creek Office Park with new common areas, modern ablutions and a substantial improvement to the security and landscaping. The upgrade investment was R8.6 million and the project has already resulted in increased demand for the property.
Extending Emira’s relationship with Millward Brown in Rivonia, it undertook a total refurbishment of the south block at Bradenham Hall . Investing R9.4 million into the property’s major overhaul, the building now has new floors, energy-efficient LED lighting throughout and a modern, centralised air-conditioning system.
In Centurion, Emira has refurbished its Tuinhof building at 265 West Avenue. Bringing its common areas in line with its excellent location, the office received new lobby finishes for floors and walls alike, a major overhaul of its bathrooms and new efficient lighting. These updates have successfully boosted its lettability and reduced its vacancies from over 14% to below 3%.
Emira has extended its relationship with King Price Insurance which was outgrowing its 4,170sqm offices at Menlyn Corporate Park in Pretoria and needed more office space preferably linked to an outside entertainment area.
To accommodate this company, Emira undertook a 1,163sqm extension of Menlyn Corporate Park, growing its total size to 26,709sqm. Jennett notes: “This is a worthwhile investment for Emira. We were able to provide sufficient space for an A-grade tenant and thus retain them on a long-term basis. Simultaneously, we improved our second largest asset by value. Our investment added value to a prime office asset located in one of the best performing commercial nodes nationally.”
Giving its A-grade office buildings a competitive advantage within their respective nodes, Emira also upgraded its building at 1059 Francis Baard Street in Hatfield. The 6,000sqm property in the heart of Pretoria’s embassy district was brought up to date with a fresh external façade, modern lobbies, contemporary bathrooms and motion-sensor lighting in its undercover parking.
The market’s response shows the building’s improvements also improved its appeal. The office property’s vacancy has improved from 23% to around 7%, so far.