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Zimbali Lakes to get R3 billion Evergreen retirement village, as IFA Hotels & Resorts secures J/V with Amdec Group

By Suren Naidoo

The multi-billion rand new Zimbali Lakes Resort – being developed by Kuwait’s IFA Hotels & Resorts on KwaZulu-Natal’s booming North Coast – has secured a landmark joint-venture deal with Cape Town-based Amdec Group to establish a R3 billion Evergreen Lifestyle retirement village within Zimbali Lakes.

This represents a major coup for IFA on its relaunched 300ha Zimbali Lakes Resort mega development, located on a prime site adjacent to its Fairmont Zimbali Resort and the N2 highway near Ballito. Evergreen Lifestyles is the Amdec Group’s retirement lifestyle business and is touted as South Africa’s leading retirement brand.

IFA and Amdec announced the deal last month, saying Evergreen Zimbali Lakes would be “unsurpassed and provides the launch pad for Evergreen’s expansion plans into KwaZulu-Natal”.

Evergreen has apparently also secured a site in the KZN retirement hotspot of Hilton, in the Midlands, but, the new Zimbali Lakes development is its first officially announced retirement village in the province.

An artist’s impression of the entrance to the planned new Zimbali Lakes Resort on the KZN North Coast.

Evergreen and Amdec have been eyeing the KZN property market for a while and have had talks with Tongaat Hulett Developments, who are the master-planners behind the property development boom around the Gateway/uMhlanga node and along KZN’s northern growth corridor. Tongaat Hulett initiated the development of Zimbali more than two decades ago, and in 2003 secured IFA as one of the largest foreign direct investments into the KZN tourism and property sector.

The Amdec Group – noted as one of South Africa’s leading privately-owned property developers and investors – owns the iconic Melrose Arch mixed-use precinct in Johannesburg with Liberty Group, and is leading multi-billion rand developments such as Harbour Arch and The Yacht Club in Cape Town, and Westbrook in Port Elizabeth. Amdec also owns stakes in the renowned Pearl Valley and Val de Vie estates in the Western Cape, in addition to its Evergreen Lifestyle brand, with six retirement villages currently in South Africa.

In a major boost to its Evergreen Lifestyle retirement business, Amdec secured a R675 million deal with JSE-listed PSG Group in September last year. The deal saw PSG acquire a 50% stake in Evergreen Lifestyle, via its investment subsidiary PSG Alpha. The investment will see the Evergreen Lifestyle brand expand to 3,000 homes over the next three years. Evergreen’s six retirement estates currently have a combined total of 500 retirement units in operation.

According to IFA and Amdec, the new Evergreen Lifestyle Zimbali Lakes development will have around 750 retirement units. Set within the ground-breaking new Zimbali Lakes Resort, Evergreen Lifestyle Zimbali Lakes will include sectional title apartments, to be sold on a Life Rights basis. It is geared around the retirement market’s demand for secure retirement living for over-55’s and will provide a dedicated on-site Healthcare Centre, assisted living facilities, frail care and an array of luxury lifestyle amenities.

“We are delighted to have partnered with a brand that shares in our vision, which is to revolutionise retirement living. More significantly, this agreement means that we now have the necessary capital to ensure that all facilities within Evergreen Lifestyle Zimbali Lakes will be 100% complete before the first resident moves in,” said Phil de Sylva, IFA Hotels & Resorts Senior Vice President Operations.

Phil de Sylva, IFA Hotels & Resorts Senior Vice President Operations

He said the retirement village will also give residents access to Zimbali Lakes Resort’s wide array of amenities, including a new 18-hole championship design golf course, its signature 30-hectare lake, sporting facilities, and routes to accommodate mountain bikers, runners, or those retirees just looking for a stroll. The Zimbali Lakes mega project is set to have more than 2700 residential opportunities (including the retirement village, luxurious homes and apartments), in addition to new hotels and retail offerings as part of the overall 300ha mixed-use development.

De Sylva added: “This is a major coup for the overall Zimbali Lakes Resort development as we have now concluded over R650 million in land sales, enabling us to commence construction soon, with the first transfers expected to take place by the end of 2018 and occupations earmarked by end 2019”.

James Wilson, CEO of the Amdec Group, said he was thrilled to be merging the Zimbali and Evergreen brands, to create Evergreen Lifestyle Zimbali Lakes.

“Evergreen have always positioned themselves as creators of great lifestyle experiences, instead of being just developers. Every Evergreen village is different, and our core focus is to create retirement opportunities in safe, idyllic settings, situated in popular suburbs close to amenities, hospitals, and sports and leisure facilities. Zimbali ticks all of these boxes,” he said.

James Wilson, CEO of the Amdec Group.

“Going forward a big focus for Evergreen will be to better educate the KZN market about the life-right model. Although this is the chosen model in North America, Australia and New Zealand, South Africans are still new to the concept. Essentially, buying into a life-right in a retirement village means you are buying a total retirement solution. It is like buying a carefree retirement product with built-in insurance when you get old and may need someone to care for you,” Wilson explained.

Meanwhile, Keller Williams Realty (KW) which has been appointed as the official sales and marketing entity for the Zimbali Lakes Resort development, is set to increase its team of sales agents significantly this year, as Zimbali Lakes takes off.

Werner Burger, CEO of IFA Hotels & Resorts, said: “The KW team comprises 48 sales agents, with plans to increase their agent count to 80 by the end of 2018… KW will be responsible for bringing more than R10 billion to market over the next 10 years, giving the brand a significant foothold into Northern KwaZulu-Natal. This will make it the leading Real Estate Agency in this area and the largest in the North of KZN.”

Burger added: “We are extremely proud of this partnership with Amdec and Evergreen Lifestyle, and know that together we will be able to offer one of the most sought-after retirement lifestyles in the country.”