BlackBrick’s Cape Town launch set to disrupt the Mother City property development market with unique hybrid hospitality product Cape Town’s property development scene, still emerging from the slumber of the year-end shutdown, is about to be shaken up by the launch of the first BlackBrick development in the Mother City on 29 January.
Following the sell-out success of 208 apartments in the first BlackBrick development in Sandton, founder Moritz Wellensiek is bringing his dynamic work-centric apartment model to
Cape Town’s CBD in a near-complete development by Ryan Joffe Properties. The development, a remodelling of a classic 1950s Art Deco office block in the heart of the CBD, consists of 100 luxury micro apartments, along with a compelling mix of hospitality amenities, including cinema, workspaces, boxing gym, rooftop clubhouse, yoga boma, terrace and cafe, and will be run as a dynamic urban apart-hotel. With prices starting at a highly accessible R895 000, and with an enviable location at the Watercraft intersection of Cape Town’s two major pedestrian avenues, St George’s Mall and the Waterkant Street Fan Walk, the intrinsic fundamentals of the investment proposition look decidedly attractive in their own right.
But, according to founder Moritz Wellensiek, BlackBrick’s key innovation – the concept of creating a global network of ‘vertical villages’ – offers both investors and residents far more
value than any traditional bricks and mortar development to date. “What inspires us at BlackBrick is to create an integrated global network of vertical villages, each of which offers a combination of residential, hospitality and club membership benefits. We are likely the first developer in the world to combine these three interlinked uses in one building – but it’s when you factor in the exponential value-add of a global network of our developments that people really get behind the vision.” Moritz explained that the concept was born out of the need he himself experienced as a young, mobile, multi-city, digital nomad. “The concept came out of my own need to live a more fluid and mobile lifestyle,” he said. “I grew up in a family that was living between Germany, Italy and South Africa and later when we settled in South Africa I lived in its different centres – Joburg, Cape Town, Durban – for about ten years. So we’ve designed the network to, among other things, provide a solution for a multi-city lifestyle, which it turns out is a growing need in a digital economy.” Given the response BlackBrick has had in the launch sales and successful opening of their
initial Fredman Drive offering, it certainly seems to be an idea that resonates with a whole new generation of South African property owners.
Commenting on the impact of the pandemic on this dynamic new form of property ownership, Moritz was emphatic that the remote working trend – accelerated around the world by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic –will without question amplify the value of the network to young, mobile, work-from-anywhere professionals. “Now, more than anytime in history, people all over the world are able to work remotely. It’s actually become the new normal, and we don’t see the end of the pandemic changing that. Servicing this need with excellent technology, ergonomically designed workspaces and comfortable, contemporary meeting facilities was always a massive part of our value proposition to owners and residents.
“We believe that the opportunity this trend has created in the residential and travel space has simultaneously laid the foundation for a massive travel explosion that is just waiting to
happen when Covid-19 travel restrictions are removed. It’s a scenario where people will travel to places not just on holiday but to live for a period of time while they carry on earning
an income. We just have not seen the impact of this yet because of the travel bans. But it’s coming.” Does Wellensiek see BlackBrick as a disruptor in the real estate and lifestyle space?
“Yes, I do,” Wellensiek answers. “We’re operating in two normally distinctly different industries – residential property and hospitality – but we’ve seen the opportunity to exploit
the intersection of these two spaces, and to add a third, cultural component that promotes personal growth and positive resident interactions. So we take an end-to-end, vertically
integrated approach to the real estate value chain. The physical development is just the beginning of the customer journey, not the end. In fact, the life of the customer journey is
“Buyers in any of our developments are getting much more than they’re actually paying for –in essence, the ability to live and work freely between Cape Town, Sandton and Umhlanga,
with overseas options on the very near horizon. This could be hugely important to them in the acceleration of their careers and lives.” provides Moritz referred to the success of the original BlackBrick development in Sandton as having provided ‘proof of concept’ that is manifesting in a further two South Africa developments – a second one in Sandton and another in Umhlanga, both set for Q1 2021 – while the team actively pursues options in Los Angeles, New York and Lisbon.
“Our first development in Sandton was 95% sold out within 30 days of launch,” he said, “completely outperforming the market in this blue-chip area. We attribute this mostly to the fact that our offering appealed both to the established investor market and to a new market of emerging owner-occupiers. “We were able to offer investors an appealing price point and exceptional value for money – without sacrificing build or design quality – in a sought-after area. Investors were also strongly motivated by our rental management offering. This is a hands-off option for owners
to become either Short Stay or Long Stay partners. The cherry on top has been capital growth of over 25% achieved by our early buyers in as little as 18 particularly torrid months
for the real estate industry. “As far as the owner-occupiers are concerned, we succeeded in drawing in a new market: younger, upwardly mobile, flexible buyers looking for something new, for a property product that resonated with them as a brand and that offered them value beyond the bricks and mortar. We’ve attracted a huge social media engagement in the process, which confirms to
us that our model and our brand fulfils an innate need: a need to be included in a new kind of tribe, with 21st century ideals and 21st century benefits.”
Developer Ryan Joffe explained how the partnership with BlackBrick came about: “I went to visit their Sandton property and was very impressed by the concept and the way it had been
executed. I knew they were looking for a site in Cape Town and I thought we would be a good match. “Partnering with BlackBrick has brought a differentiating factor to the development and given
it an instant identity as part of the broader and growing BlackBrick network. This has allowed us to give buyers a far more comprehensive offering, with long and short stay rental options.
“As a result our offer is fundamentally different from most of the central Cape Town apartments on the market today because they are not only apartments: they offer a
compelling hospitality element that adds so much lifestyle value. “Buyers get the value of the rooftop clubhouse and bar, the resident DJ, the workspaces, the
boardroom, the cafe, the concierge, the security, and a host of other services and amenities you simply don’t find in a normal apartment block.
“We believe that Cape Town’s post-Covid travel boom will release huge pent-up demand, which will likely increase yields for our short-stay investors.” Describing the working relationship with BlackBrick, Joffe commented that “We have a complementary skill set that has made for a very smooth working relationship. If this development sells as well as we think it will, it will lead to other options in Cape Town, and we’d be happy to play the developer role again.”