Investment into South Africa have not been encouraging (even pre-pandemic) and coupled with increased capital flow in recent years, the economic outlook has been and continues to be dire.  Credit rating downgrades and the challenges brought on by Covid-19 have served to exacerbate the situation, making for an environment where purse strings have been tightened across the board.

According to Bloomberg’s report, South Africa’s unemployment rate (includes people those who stopped looking for work) rose to 44.4 percent in the second quarter, 2021. The news agency further pointed out that the country’s unemployment rate surged to the highest on a global list of 82 countries it monitors. 

There have been green shoots that, if nurtured, could form the basis of an economic recovery that will benefit all. A sector that is most promising is the construction industry, which has been ramping up job opportunities on building sites across the country in an attempt to kick start the economy and provide much-needed jobs.   

In the past the construction industry has faced struggles such as The Struggling Rand. The looming economic issues within the country. Corruption, there’s the issue of unethical business dealings. companies paying governmental departments to have their tenders fast-tracked, and cartels that limit healthy competition on the scene. Lastly, Eskom Power Cuts. Power concerns abound, not just politically but in terms of actual energy. Eskom’s power problems alone can have devastating consequences for construction projects, causing costly delays.

One such contributor is Evergreen Retirement Holdings, who this week announced plans to significantly expand their national portfolio, with the launch of 1000 units across four developments in the Western Cape and Gauteng. 

The launch of a brand new 440- unit retirement village at Sitari Country Estate is set to headline, just outside of Somerset West.  The village spans 9.5hectares and will on completion accommodate 190 houses, 250 hotel-style suites, a state-of-the-art lifestyle centre, and a care centre offering 24 nursing care, sub-acute, palliative, frail and memory care. 

The balance of the expansion will see sizeable new development phases at three of the Group’s existing villages. These include the introduction of a 4000m2 lifestyle centre and 96 hotel-style suites at Evergreen Noordhoek in the Cape Peninsula; 150 new free-standing homes and 208 luxury suites at Evergreen Val de Vie, outside Paarl in the Cape Winelands; and 108 serviced apartments at Evergreen Broadacres, just north of Johannesburg. 

According to Cobus Bedeker, Managing Director of Evergreen Property Developments, the Group’s national portfolio currently sits at 1200 units across 7 existing villages, with 1000 new homes currently under construction.  “To keep up with the demand, we intend to grow our national footprint over the next 10 years to 10 000 homes, across 20 operating villages, with a value of R3 billion”, he said.

“We believe there are massive opportunities in this property class in South Africa.  Interest in retirement village living has gained momentum during the pandemic and the recent spate of lootings in KZN and Gauteng have knee-jerked demand for luxury retirement estates that offer sophisticated security measures, resort-style facilities, five-star hospitality, and a strong sense of community”, he said. 

Due to the backing of two financially powerful shareholders – listed financial services group PSG Alpha, and the Amdec Group, a leading private property investment and development company – Evergreen will be able to fund the construction of all four developments off its own strong balance sheet.  The expansion will see approximately R 3billion invested over a 2-year rollout.  

The Group was forced to down tools at several construction sites across the country at the start of lockdown in March 2020, but was back up and running within a few months. By holding firm against a perilous economic backdrop, and with over 1,000,000 square meters of new developments anticipated over the next 10 years, Evergreen Retirement Holdings is once again likely to become a key job creator. 

“We are proud to play our part in creating significant employment opportunities within an industry that has been devastated by the Coronavirus”, said Bedeker. “Our new construction phase will see upwards of 6,000 construction workers employed across the country, while our operating villages will account for a further 1,000 permanent jobs linked to facilities management, security, hospitality, and healthcare”. 

“Launching new developments and expanding the Evergreen portfolio at a time when other developers have either been unable – or reluctant – to do so, confirms our commitment to meeting the demands of residents and retirees alike, and demonstrates our confidence in the country and its economy”, he added. 

“Property developers have a significant role to play in reigniting South Africa’s economic recovery, stimulating job creation, and redressing South Africa’s legacy of social injustice and inequality. We hope that by launching simultaneously across four major developments nationally, we can bring renewed hope to the construction and property development sector and act as a catalyst for further economic growth”, concluded Bedeker.

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