New property fund aims to renew South Africa’s cities

Divercity Urban Property Fund is seeking to renew and re-energise South Africa’s urban centres, and is backed by the experience of leading property specialists and a R2-billion seed portfolio of landmark property assets. Divercity’s biggest shareholders are Atterbury Group and Ithemba Property, with Talis Property Fund also playing a major part in the establishment of the fund. Cornerstone investors are RMH Property and Nedbank Property Planners. Regulatory approval of the fund is expected by the end of July. Divercity focuses on pre-identified precincts or corridors within major South African cities, rather than individual properties. The initial R2-billion portfolio has strategic buildings hand-picked from Atterbury’s, Ithemba’s and Talis’s portfolios, including Johannesburg landmarks Newtown Junction Mall, Talis House and Turbine Hall, as well as the iconic Pan Africa Mall, in Alexandra. The portfolio also includes 4 500 residential properties from the Ithemba stable, some properties in Maboneng from Propertuity and Sterland Mall, in Pretoria. Divercity has secured a development pipeline of a further R3-billion of investments, as well as the funding required to roll it out. This pipeline comprises more than 3 000 new affordable residential units, as well as prime inner-city office and retail space. The vision for the company is to grow towards having R6-billion in assets over the next three to four years, and it plans to eventually list as a real estate investment trust. “By clustering investment properties in specific precincts, not only does Divercity benefit from management efficiencies, but it also enjoys better control of assets by enhancing the intrinsic value around each of its core real estate investments. Essentially, it is creating large-scale, mixed-use, mixed-income urban renewal precincts. In this way, it also creates the density and scale to have a real impact on the cityscape,” explained Atterbury CEO Wouter de Vos. Divercity invests in retail, commercial and residential properties. It intends to increase its balance of residential property over time in response to the demand for quality homes in its urban investment corridors. Adding to the live-work-play attraction of these hubs, Divercity has also set its sights on adding more hospitals, clinics, schools, retail and leisure assets to its precincts. “By creating critical mass with its focused investment zones, it is also better able to influence and control factors such as safety, sidewalks and roads. This not only ensures the highest standards for its property management, but also for the area around buildings, which ultimately creates better neighbourhoods to live and work in,” said Divercity.

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