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Balwin to build man-made beach lagoons at Waterfall, as its Blyde estate lagoon nears completion

By Suren Naidoo

JSE-listed residential real estate developers, Balwin Properties, have bought into the man-made beach lagoon concept big time, as it plans to roll-out more lagoons at several of its developments across South Africa, including two lagoons in Gauteng’s Waterfall mega development node.

Steve Brookes, Balwin’s founder and CEO, revealed to SA Property Insider that the group had plans to have about six man-made beach lagoons operating within its flagship residential developments over the next few years. He said The Blyde Riverwalk Estate, being developed by Balwin in Pretoria, would be home to SA’s first-ever Crystal Lagoon. Construction on the lagoon and club house, to the tune of R100 million, at the estate was nearing completion and would be officially launched in September.

Brookes was speaking to SA Property Insider at an event to mark the filling up of the lagoon at The Bldye on Friday. The 1.5ha lagoon is a central feature of The Blyde Riverwalk Estate, Balwin’s pioneering R4.2 billion residential property development in Pretoria East. Balwin have partnered with US-based multi-national water innovations company, Crystal Lagoons, who are behind the man-made lagoon concept that is growing globally.

Steve Brookes, Balwin’s founder and CEO

“The Crystal Lagoon at The Blyde Riverwalk Estate development is not only the first of its kind in South Africa, but also in Sub Saharan Africa. It’s a ground-breaking project, that we are proud to partner Crystal Lagoons on. I was not convinced at first, but later was mesmerised by what they did in Dubai. It is great to see it come to life here at The Blyde, but what’s even more exciting is our roll-out plan to other developments we have around South Africa,” said Brookes.

“We have plans to build two such lagoons at our Waterfall developments. At about 3.5ha each, the lagoons at Waterfall will be more than double the size of the one in Pretoria East. Other development sites we are looking at, include the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast and the West Coast of Cape Town. In Crystal Lagoons, we have found a partner that shares our vision of striving for innovation in giving our clients a complete lifestyle,” he told SA Property Insider.

Balwin Properties, which has a market capitalisation on the JSE of R3 billion, is the largest residential sectional-title developer in South Africa. It currently has about 18 projects nationally, with an average of between 3000-5000 apartments per development and a 15-20 year development pipeline.

The Blyde Riverwalk Estate will have over 10500 units upon full completion, with about 3600 units at The Blyde itself, which surrounds the man-made lagoon and beach. The balance of the units will be within the larger Riverwalk Estate that borders Abland’s planned new Hazeldean regional shopping centre and development node in Pretoria.

Balwin has several developments in Johannesburg, with three within the burgeoning Waterfall node that is anchored by Attacq’s Mall of Africa and Waterfall City developments. Balwin has plans for more than 15000 units around Waterfall, with The Polofields being its most high profile development, while Kikuyu Waterfall has also been launched. In the Western Cape, Balwin currently has developments at Paardevlei, as well as The Sandown and De Zicht, while in KwaZulu-Natal it is developing Ballito Hills.

Brookes said Balwin was in talks with Tongaat Hulett Developments about a site in northern KZN, which has been identified as a good location for the Crystal Lagoons concept. He would not give further details.

Alastair Sinclair, Regional Director for Sub Saharan Africa of Crystal Lagoons, said the group was excited to have Balwin Properties as its preferred partner in South Africa in rolling out more lagoons within Balwin’s residential developments around the country.

“As our first venture in Sub Saharan Africa, The Blyde development is our showcase project in the region and highlights what Crystal Lagoons is all about. We can bring a beach and water lifestyle to almost any location and it’s a world-class, hi-tech innovation that’s more sustainable from a water and energy side, compared to regular pools. It also requires lower maintenance,” he said.

“Crystal Lagoons has several projects in Egypt, but we are seeing growing demand in Sub Saharan Africa, driven by South Africa. There has also been interest in Mauritius. Globally, we now have more than 600 projects in our development pipeline. The Crystal Lagoons innovation has also been patented in more than 180 countries around the world,” added Sinclair.

He said Balwin had great vision in deciding to bring in the Crystal Lagoons concept into its residential developments, which would “power its developments” by increasing demand and adding a unique differentiation factor.

“We are looking forward to the opening of The Blyde later this year, but also rolling out other lagoons in South Africa. There are a number of other developments being planned with Balwin in the country, and we hope to launch our next project with them before the end of this year,” added Sinclair.

Meanwhile, Brookes said some 261 units have been sold in The Blyde and he expects around 300 families to being living in the estate by the time the lagoon is officially launched in September.

“We have about 50-80 sales a month at The Blyde, but once the lagoon opens, we expect sales to double. The partnership with Crystal Lagoons has moved quickly, since inception less than a year ago. It’s no doubt exciting times for Balwin’s Blyde estate development. We are even working with Abland to build a bridge, that will give the estate better access to the Hazeldean development and the Lynnwood area,” he said.