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A NEW LEASE OF LIFE FOR HISTORIC LA CONCORDE

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A NEW LEASE OF LIFE FOR HISTORIC LA CONCORDE

An architectural grande dame steeped in history is getting a new lease of life in the Cape Winelands town of Paarl, where leading property developers Giflo Group have big plans to revitalise La Concorde, the one-time head office of KWV.

The KWV building, as it is still known, is a landmark in Paarl’s Main Road today, but when the site was originally chosen back in the 1950s, it was part of the farm Concordia, explains Michiel Scharrighuisen, director and co-owner of Giflo Group, which recently purchased the iconic building.

“The farm was across the railway line from the premises where the Kooperatiewe Wijnbouwers Vereniging had their first head office, alongside the cellar, laboratory and production facilities in Kohler Street,” says Scharrighuisen. When the company outgrew that original head office it commissioned a new, bigger building in 1953. La Concorde was completed in 1958 and came to represent the significance of the wine and brandy industry of the Boland.

When the Vasari group purchased KWV and all production facilities in May 2016, La Concorde was excluded from the sale and KWV remained in the building as tenants, says Scharrighuisen, “Giflo’s own head office has also been based in the building for six years, and transitioning from tenants to owners, we are extremely excited about the opportunity to restore La Concorde to the former glory of its heyday, preserving its heritage while updating it for a new era. It is fairly bubbling with potential.”

He confirmed that KWV will also remain as an anchor tenant, and that a new seven-year lease was recently signed.

La Concorde is situated on a large property of 25 000 sqm among massive mature oak trees. An imposing front entrance faces the street, and the façade includes three distinct gables designed by the Spanish sculptor Florencio Cuairan, adding a classical feel to the structure. Architecturally the building is characterised by long passages and higher ceilings than commonly found in modern-day buildings, with a domed lobby decorated with mosaic tile art. Copper hand railings and door handles are fitted throughout.

The building has space for more than 40 tenants in office offerings that range from 17sqm to 1 300sqm, with a total of 6 250sqm GLA. A fair bit of space is currently unoccupied.

In KWV’s heyday the property included staff sporting facilities such as a squash court and swimming pool which have fallen into disuse over the years, and Giflo is adding new, modern amenities as part of the redevelopment. “Due to the size of the building it made sense for us to include a variety of offerings to add to the tenant experience,” explains Scharrighuisen. The building has an existing cafeteria and coffee station, Team Café and Fleet Coffee, which will be retained for now, and the new plans will see the addition of a functional training facility, bicycle locker rooms, shower facilities and a roof-top braai area.

Since La Concorde is 62 years old with heritage status, all additions are being cleared by the local heritage association and the Drakenstein Heritage Council. “It is important for us to honour the history of the building while updating the user experience, so plans have focused on upgrading and revamping the internal offices, passages and lobby area while preserving the external façades,” said Scharrighuisen.

The renovation is scheduled to be rolled out in phases, and phase one is already underway, with the refurbishment of the vacant offices. New carpets, light fittings and blinds are being fitted, walls and ceilings are being painted, and air-conditioning units are being repositioned. The exhibition space which served as KWV’s art gallery will be redesigned to create new meeting rooms and additional offices, which will be completed by June 2021.

Prospective new tenants can find out more about leasing opportunities by contacting Collette at the Giflo head office, 063 695 1314 or colette@giflogroup.co.za.

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Giflo: Ten years of excellence in property development

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When it comes to property-development buzzwords, “mixed-use” is certainly one of the strongest. It is a characteristic of the era that we live in that people strive to simplify their daily routines, and having access to developments that offer office space, retail, medical and residential facilities in close proximity to each other, is often the dream. And it is this dream that Giflo Developments aim to facilitate, in a variety of locations, allowing a live-work-play lifestyle that ticks all the boxes.

This year, amid the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, the company celebrates 10 years in the business, having grown from a small concern focusing on office space, to a full-spectrum developer also experienced in residential, hotel, retail and medical developments countrywide.

During this anniversary year a lot of activity centres around the Centurion area, where the Irene Link precinct, in which Giflo is the major shareholder with partners Abland and SOM, is under development. The 75 000sqm precinct situated along the N1 highway between Johannesburg and Pretoria, includes the award-winning Barloworld head office, and a 12 000sqm retail and lifestyle centre that will open during 2021.

The company is also currently involved with two residential developments in Paarl in the Western Cape: Pearl Valley at Val de Vie and Paarl Valleij; as well as two in Gauteng: Little Falls in Roodepoort and The Woods in Kyalami.

“We don’t know what the world will look like post the pandemic, but there is likely to be reflection on how we live, and the lessons learnt during times when movement was restricted, and motor vehicle use was limited,” says Giflo founder and owner Michiel Scharrighuisen. “From that perspective we believe that people will increasingly choose living and working environments with lifestyle in mind, and that will certainly play a role in our decision-making as developers.”

The Scharrighuisen brothers, Michiel and Regardt, founded the company in 2010 and explain that the strength in partnerships is a core value of the company. “Identifying the right partners for any development project has always been a priority,” says Michiel. “We firmly believe in the wisdom that any chain is as strong as its weakest link, and at Giflo we aim to build chains of expertise, bringing the right people together for a project so that the end product benefits from the collaboration.”

Being awarded the Green Building Council South Africa’s five-star Green Star SA ratings in both the Design and As Built categories for the Barloworld head office was a definite highlight of the past year, and underlines the ethos of creating teams of the best industry professionals at the forefront of innovation. They are very proud of the rating, Michiel says, but what it confirms is even more important to the company. “It has shown that we have in our networks the skills required to create low-maintenance, highly functional, well-designed developments that conform to world-class green building standards. That is really exciting.”

The development and management of cutting-edge medical facilities is a further niche that Giflo specialises in. Regardt explains, “We formed Giflo Medical in 2016 when we realised that there were very few South African developers who operate in the world of medical development; which is highly specialised. And those who do have the skill tend to only operate in areas where they have a home base, whereas the Giflo Medical team operate across the whole of South Africa.” Another result of a strong partnership bringing divergent expertise together into a stronger whole, this division was formed with developer Ivan Makkink and architect Pieter Knoesen, and has developed acute as well as day hospitals, medical centres, clinics and similar purpose-created medical service spaces across South Africa. “We develop medical projects on a turnkey basis to deliver the final product at a fixed cost,” says Regardt.

Surviving and thriving to reach a tenth birthday in economically challenging times is a big reason for gratitude, and Giflo is deeply committed to its involvement with Community Keepers, a non-profit organisation based in Stellenbosch that looks after the welfare of learners from disadvantaged backgrounds. “The professional support services that Community Keepers provide at schools really make a difference in the communities they serve, and reaches beyond learners to parents, caregivers and educators too. We have seen them change lives since we first became involved in 2015, and it means a lot to be able to partner with an organisation that invests in the future of the country by investing in the youth,” says Michiel. Giflo are also proud sponsors of the first rugby teams of Paarl Gimnasium and Pretoria’s Afrikaans Hoër Seunskool (Affies).

Giflo has offices in Pretoria and in Paarl in the Western Cape. To find out more about the development pipeline and latest projects, visit www.giflogroup.co.za.