MODERN-DAY LIVING BUILT ON TRADITIONAL VALUES

A place where people, not cars, are the focal point, Steyn City offers its residents an unprecedented quality of life

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Named one of South Africa’s top lifestyle estates in the AfrAsia Bank and New World Wealth’s rating of the country’s best developments, the facilities at this upmarket lifestyle resort north of Fourways are among the best in the country. These include a world-class equestrian centre, an independent school, a championship golf course, skate park, mountain bike trail, as well as tennis and outdoor gyms, swimming pool and acres of landscaped parklands.

Steyn City features both residential and commercial properties, with an extensive network of pedestrianised pathways and cycle tracks to link homes with the numerous parks and surrounding dense woodland areas. Currently, under construction, the city centre development will provide both upmarket apartments and convenience retail offerings to meet residents’ day-to-day needs.

Inspired by the structure and layout of Hyde Park in London, which allows Londoners to move around freely outdoors, Steyn City was the brainchild of South African insurance entrepreneur and billionaire, Douw Steyn, and Giuseppe Plumari, the CEO of Steyn City.

“Ten years in the making, we spent a lot of time looking at what would be the most important factor in developing a residential lifestyle resort, one that was like no other, especially when it came to lifestyle. During these brainstorming sessions, we quickly came to realise just how much the traffic impacts our lives on our roads. What we wanted was an uncompromising lifestyle resort, one that was inspired by our own childhood memories of playing on suburban streets,” Plumari says.

“With the golf course, stables and soccer fields, we also aim to cater for every sports interest, and as the development progresses, we will add new facilities, and it will be the varying interests of our residents that will open new opportunities for new facilities in future,” he adds.

Despite its upmarket image, Plumari is passionate about making sure that Steyn City opens its door to everyone, offering an inclusive and open environment that caters to everyone from single mothers to retirees to young families, with options ranging from apartment living to luxury residences.

“And regardless of whether you live in a one-bedroom apartment or a luxury home, you have access to the same facilities. Children will be able to mix with other children from all backgrounds, making sure that Steyn City is in no way elitist,” he says.

Another exciting addition to the Parkland Residence is the Steyn City School, a completely independent world-class educational facility. Opened in January of this year, the school features an early years centre, primary and the first grades of college campuses. There are 23 classrooms, each of which will accommodate 25 pupils, and teaching assistants will be introduced to the younger grades.

All classrooms have outside verandas and are equipped with air conditioning, television sets and fibre connectivity. Other facilities include a state-of-the-art science laboratory, music and art rooms, as well as a tuck shop and school shop, and a media centre. From a sporting perspective, the school will offer two sports fields, a cricket oval and pavilion, an indoor aquatic centre and three multi-courts. Pupils attending the school will have access to all of Steyn City’s outstanding facilities, and the surrounding indigenous paradise.

“The school has proved to be super successful since it opened, with initial enrolment far exceeding our expectation. We have 200 students enrolled in the school, ranging from Grade 000 to Grade 9. It’s not often that new schools open with this kind of infrastructure in place. I also believe that having the school in the lifestyle resort will change the way these children grow up. Unlike 50 years ago, you see both parents working. I felt as though a lot of soul had gone from community living. We’re trying to bring back a time where kids go fishing with their friends after school or play in the park. And parents can rest easy knowing that their children are safe,” he enthuses.

Building one of South Africa’s most sought-after developments does, however, come with its own set of challenges and according to Plumari, there were numerous issues that needed to be solved before the development could go ahead.

“The roads in this area were already absolutely gridlocked and traffic wasn’t moving. We also needed to address the stormwater and sewage infrastructure. The development would have been a non-starter without fixing those issues and it was through many different public-private partnerships that we were able to upgrade the roads, water and sewage, to make sure the development was not left wanting for anything from an infrastructure point of view,” Plumari says.

Situated north of Fourways between Dainfern and Diepsloot, the land was also once home to the Zevenfontein informal settlement. About 20 000 citizens of Zevenfontein were relocated to the nearby Cosmo City and Diepsloot.

“We worked with the government to move the Zevenfontein residents to permanent RDP homes in Cosmo City and they were fantastic in accommodating the bulk of the community. Some of the people who were once living on this land now work here.

A part of our policy was opening a labour desk, which is manned by the surrounding communities. In excess of 12 000 workers have gone through this desk and received employment and it’s policies like these that have ensured a great relationship with these communities. We assist them where we can and run a number of programmes to empower and upskill people in the area,” he adds.

Plumari also feels that the day-to-day operations of the local municipalities can sometimes prove to be a hindrance to property developers across the country, where there is a lack of capacity to deal with every aspect of the challenges that a big city, like Johannesburg, brings. This, he says, results in unprecedented delays to a development.

“It does bring some huge risk for developers, as well as unnecessary inefficiencies. Hopefully, going forward, things will rectify themselves because, at the end of the day, time is money. There is also a skills shortage in the building sector. A lot of the talent has moved overseas and I hope that those people will find their way back to South Africa as the political landscape continues to change,” he explains.

Named Business Person of the Year at the Nedbank Business Excellence Awards 2017, an event hosted by the Italian-South Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industries last year, Plumari is driven by his sheer passion for every aspect of property development, from the challenges of pulling a deal together to the creativity that development requires.

“The result of all those efforts are cast in stone, and they can be viewed every time you go past your development. I started my career from very humble beginnings, starting with building garden walls, and then homes, luxury homes and later, more extensive developments. Today, I’m here at Steyn City and I’m still absolutely passionate about the creative side of things. I also think my ability to identify the right tracks of land in the right areas has helped but, ultimately, I’ve spent my life building just one brick on top of another, culminating in where I am today,” Plumari says.

A hands-on leader with an eye for detail, Plumari’s open door policy sees him dealing with everyone involved in Steyn City on a regular basis, a policy he is especially proud of.

“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in life is to never stop learning. I have an open door policy for everyone, providing a space to bring differences and challenges to the fore, and I try to deal with them in the most practical way,” he says.

“Steyn City will certainly see me through to the end of my career and this is by no means the end but just the beginning of what it is ultimately going to be,” Plumari concludes. 

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