Down in the beautiful Cape, Atterbury’s massive Richmond Park development project is progressing on schedule, and the first tenants have been signed. We got the lowdown from Derrick Pautz, the development project manager and Mia Kitshoff,who recently relocated to Stellenbosch assuming responsibility for our growing Western Cape leasing portfolio.

Derrick, what progress has been made on the site since we last spoke? Is everything on track?
The upgrading of Plattekloof Road is progressing well. We have also commenced with the construction of phase one of the internal roads which are due to be complete by June. Construction of the storm-water retention ponds will also be complete within the next few months and landscaping of the new roads and storm-water ponds will also take place around June to take advantage of the Cape winter rainfall.

How big a role does landscaping play when developing an industrial park like this one?
Although it’s a relatively small part of the total project scope and budget, landscaping is a very important aspect of the whole. The landscaping and beautification is the “finish” or “lipstick” to a project such as this, and it’s important to create the right image for potential investors and tenants. Because of the drought and the water restrictions that are strictly enforced in the Western Cape at the moment, we’ve delayed some of the landscaping projects.

We know it’s tenant dependent, but have any decisions been made on exactly what structures will go up?
We have a masterplan that indicates the kind of top-structure developments we envisage; the majority of the development will be warehouse developments ranging from 2 000sqm to 50 000sqm boxes. There will also be a convenience shopping centre and a gym.

What is going to happen there in the next few months; where will you be by December?
By December the Plattekloof Road upgrades and phase one of the internal roads and landscaping will be complete. Several of the top-structure projects will also be under construction by then.

Mia, you just relocated to Stellenbosch to manage the leasing… what is your first order of business?
I will be responsible for the leasing of all the Cape Town projects, but Richmond Park will be my focus for now. Two of our partners in Richmond Park, Daniel Filippi and Richard Glass are also involved in leasing on this mega project.

Our relationship with property brokers are very important to us so we’re spending a lot of time meeting with them and understanding their views on the market. We rely extensively on brokers to provide us with leads and enquiries and it is then our responsibility to convert the leads into deals.

It’s also imperative that we understand our competition in the area. There are various other industrial developments in the surrounding area (old as well as new), so it is important that we are familiar with what the current offering is. We pride ourselves in our marketing offering and our information is updated on a regular basis with the latest on Richmond Park.

Is it any different than it was working from the Johannesburg office?
Yes, it is different, but also the same. The office is much smaller (there are only five of us), but we definitely still have the Atterbury culture. I am really enjoying it. We get a great deal of support from our Johannesburg office, especially on Richmond Park. We also travel a lot between Stellenbosch and Cape Town to meet with clients, brokers and to visit our developments.

Have you started signing tenants yet?
Yes, we’ve concluded three transactions at Richmond Park and construction of these facilities is expected to commence June/July 2017. We’re also working on several other deals, which should be concluded within the next month or two. The number of enquiries has also increased since we started with the servicing of the site. Richmond Park is a mixed-use development, but the site has proved to be preferred by logistical and distribution companies, especially because of the excellent accessibility to and from the site and the proximity to the N1 and N7 freeways.

Has your leasing plan changed in any way since the inception of the project?
As we are getting to know the market, we constantly have to re-strategise and re-think our leasing plan.We’ve realised that the Cape Town market is very different from that in Gauteng. The market here is limited, with fewer and smaller enquires, but with a solid offering and a lot of competition. It is therefore crucial that we convert enquiries into deals. Atterbury is very well known in Johannesburg and Pretoria and it is our responsibility to build relationships and to further build the Atterbury brand in Cape Town.