The legacy of community, family values and upliftment

When Giuseppe Plumari sat down with his friend and partner, Douw Steyn, to create the concept of Steyn City, they had a grand vision, a plan to change the concept of gated living in South Africa

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Plumari is now the CEO of one of the most unique developments in the country—a lifestyle resort that combines the finest in green spaces and a multitude of residential options for the discerning investor.

And it was a dream built on the foundation of reintroducing a sense of community to the family sphere, creating a space where families can not only live, but enjoy their surroundings and grow in a safe, friendly space.

Lifestyle environment

“This is the country of Douw Steyn’s birth. He has been a very successful entrepreneur here and overseas and he has decided to believe in the future of this country and invest in it,” Plumari explains.

“He wanted to do so not only in an upmarket, safe environment, but also a lifestyle environment. If you look at the big cities today, the sense of community living has disappeared because you live between four walls and then get in your car, take the kids to school and wave to your neighbours.

“That’s what we have tried to do away with here, we’ve brought in the pathways. The idea is that if you want to go for a run, you go out your backdoor onto the promenade and there, you bump into your neighbours and you get to know them. You don’t have to worry about the traffic. The kids use the same pathways and go to school and on the pathway, they’re going to meet other kids. They will be able to go to school safely, whether by bicycle or by walking. Likewise, if you live on the estate like I do, and you work here, you bump into a lot of people a lot of the time. It’s really to reinstate a sense of community living and to promote that lifestyle,” he says.

Steyn City was not created to simply develop something special within its borders, the development was also designed to uplift the surrounding neighbourhoods as well through job opportunities and other possibilities.

“If you look at the infrastructure that we have developed, we’ve tried to bring in as many activities that we can think of—from soccer fields to outdoor gyms. We have about 10 outdoor gyms. We have many parks where the children can play. We have stables and a new indoor aquatic centre. That, from a lifestyle perspective, makes it easy for people to be active and meet their neighbours.

Creating jobs

“Our biggest achievement is that, living so close to our neighbours at Diepsloot, we have created thousands of jobs. We have created over 13 000 jobs to date, and that is extremely important for that community. It is not so much the job, but the fact that you can walk to work, thus saving a big percentage of your salary that would have been spent on transport.

“More importantly is the amount of time these people have to spend travelling. Two to three hours each way, they can easily lose four to six hours on travel a day. Here, they save those hours, which, I’m sure, will impact tremendously on their family lifestyle. They can invest that time in their children. That is the way we have impacted on our communities.

“Additionally, we’ve invested billions into bulk infrastructure and private-public partnerships with government. Outside of our obligations, we’ve upgraded William Nicol Drive and Cedar Road. We’ve upgraded sewerage and water reservoirs that benefit the greater community. We are still committed to developing even more. Part of the growth and development that you’ve seen in Fourways is due to the investment we have made in bulk infrastructure.

“I think the greater community in this area has profited tremendously. We really believe in the future of the country, and we have chosen to hold hands and look to the future. You can see by what we have achieved, that the way forward for the country is to hold hands and move forward. We can’t keep on looking over our shoulders and backwards,” Plumari explains.

Challenges and delivering up front

Building and managing a development of this size hasn’t been an easy endeavour, however, and there have been many challenges.

“We started the development in trying economic times—we had the economic financial market collapse. But in spite of that, we have done rather well,” Plumari says.

What sets Steyn City apart from other estates in Gauteng is its ability to deliver what is promised up front, rather than through vague future promises.

“We have done well because of our determination and belief in the future of this country. How many people would have done what we have done and put their money where their mouths are? We have delivered to all the potential investors up front. Investors see the value in a community living and lifestyle estate, and they see the security aspect as well. They can see all that up front, they can come here and look at it, they can see it won’t be just another empty promise. We have done what we promised to do and there is still more to come, this is just the beginning,” Plumari explains.

“Potential investors can take comfort in the amounts we keep investing in the lifestyle resort. In these economic times, we have proven the value of the properties here. Since we first launched, we have steadily been going up in value,” he says.

And Plumari doesn’t believe anyone else will be able to create a development of Steyn City’s magnitude any time soon. This, he feels, strengthens the investors’ belief in the development.

“What we have done is invested in all the infrastructure up front. The residents don’t come and buy and in three years we put in a clubhouse—we’ve already done it. The economic state of affairs in the country, the politics and the dysfunctional municipalities have presented challenges but our perseverance and belief have overcome that red tape and here we are today.

“The key lessons are to remain focused and to be committed. Don’t listen to the critics, rather, listen to your heart and what you believe in. Be bold and remain optimistic, believe in the future of this country. I think President Cyril Ramaphosa and his team are working very hard. I believe they will succeed and, hopefully, we will get back to the high road,” he elaborates.

Hands-on management

Plumari’s passion for his project is boundless, so much so, that he lives on the grounds with his wife, Sharon, of 42 years, while his children Leigh, Daniela and Dino, their spouses and children are all within walking distance on the estate. Plumari can often be seen walking the grounds, checking that every minute detail is met.

“I see myself as a member of the team. I am out there every day on my motorbike, I interact with everybody and I am very hands-on in terms of designing the concept. I think the people who work with me see that and, hopefully, they take some inspiration from that, that it is important to own your job.

Above all else, it is important to be passionate, so that you can be motivated and love what you are doing,” he says.

When talking about his inspiration and role model, Plumari looks no further than the former State President, Nelson Mandela.

“I think my biggest role model was Nelson Mandela. The reason for that was his ability to forgive—after being incarcerated for such a long time, he came out and forgave. Essentially, he recognised the value of looking forward and believing in the good side of people. He didn’t dwell in the past, he looked forward and I think that is what we are missing dearly now,” he says.

Plumari also describes Warren Buffett as being an inspiration due to being successful and achieving so much in his life, yet always remaining humble and giving away his wealth.

“He makes a difference across the world and his objective has been to give away his funds. Those two individuals are the people who inspire me the most,” he says.

Balancing work and play

Plumari finds the Steyn City environment the perfect place to keep his life balanced, especially owing to no commute time and an abundance of green spaces, which keep him in touch with nature.

“I’m a hard-working person and I think a lot of us hard-working people in the world know you have to balance it with a bit of exercise, meditation and peace of mind. I think living the lifestyle in this parkland residence as I do makes it easy for me. That is the beautiful thing about living in Steyn City, I manage to exercise almost every morning. I get up early and get on my bicycle, I go for a walk, I do some birding and play some golf. Not having to be in the traffic and staying on the estate gives me that time that I can dedicate to clearing my mind and soul a little bit. That is how I cope,” he says.

Plumari isn’t just the Steyn City CEO, he is the heartbeat of the unique city and his passion fuels and drives Steyn City to be what it is today. 

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