The last time I spoke with Murray Collins, founding director of KZN-based property developer Collins Residential, was in November 2018. Since then, a lot has changed in South Africa, KZN and the world.
Besides the Covid-19 pandemic that has accompanied us for about 20 months, most recently in July, we have seen unrest and riots in KZN and parts of Gauteng.
Despite Covid-19 and the July unrest, Collins Residential is continuing its development pipeline in KwaZulu-Natal, much of it on the north coast. The private developer is behind the resurrection of the equestrian-themed estate near Sheffield Beach which is now simply dubbed Seaton and is currently under development.
Next door is the luxury Zululami coastal estate. Together, these two developments are expected to result in an investment of over R10 billion over the next few years.
In this episode of The Property Pod, we chat with Murray Collins about the development of what is called “senior housing”. Collins Residential recently signed a partnership agreement with Rosebank-based Auria Senior Living which will see the development of a billion Rand senior community called Coral Cove within Zululami.
Highlights from her interview appear below. You can also listen to the full podcast above or download it from iono, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts.
We have heard about retirement homes. We have heard of retirement estates. But what are the domains or communities of “old life”? Isn’t that the same, just a fancier name?
“It could be classified like that. The phrase “senior living” is really just a modernized description of the US industry and, as Auria is a world class offering, they bring US standards to Africa. Indeed, retirement homes, retirement communities, retirement homes are all the same thing.
“It doesn’t matter what it’s called. I think the important thing is to worry about the continuum of care when you arrive independently, and in a retirement home with Auria you are taken care of until the end. The name doesn’t matter. What is really important is what is offered in the particular place where you choose to live.
The agreement with Auria Senior Living
“Auria bought land from Zululami. Essentially, that means they’ll be building 230 houses out of the 700 offerings we have in Zululami, making it a very multigenerational area …
“It is [the] remarkable thing about Auria. What they offer is simply world class. Apart from the Michelin-style cuisine that is offered to you, which is incredible, the experiential side is very important. Just because it’s a retirement home doesn’t mean people stop living and having fun.
“With Auria and Zululami, obviously, access to the beach is a wonderful thing; there are plenty of boardwalks, birdlife, reclaimed forests and golf courses literally nearby.
“Being on the North Coast allows people to have a wonderful standard of living and an experiential way of life…”
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“We are selling the land to Auria and they are developing it for their trust.”
“I think if you estimate 700 opportunities that we do [within Zululami], and the infrastructure and the quality of the clubs that we have set up, I think it goes over 3 billion rand once it’s all over, so it’s a huge injection into the north coast.
Collins Residential is still investing in Zululami and has several other developments up its sleeve. Do you have to be confident enough to still want to invest in the province, even after the recent turmoil in KZN?
“Absolutely… Yes, we are. As you know, we are investors on the North Coast, but also throughout Africa and abroad. We are really positive and passionate about the North Coast.
“Just to quote the percentages at Zululami and Seaton, when we started selling there was roughly a 50/50 split between the Gauteng and KZN buyers. But we are now 70% Gauteng and 30% KZN buyers. People buy for their lifestyle, and people are here to stay and people are positive. If you take our time and take our access and take our standard of living on the north coast, that’s really a no-brainer.
“It is not surprising that Club Med then took so long to choose a site, and they chose the north coast of Natal to develop the new Club Med which will hopefully be operational within the next two years. . ”
“So this is essentially a massive boost for South Africa – not just KZN but for South Africa – in the confidence that the world is showing.”
“I would also just like to say that we have sold over four houses to foreigners – Americans, Belgians, Germans and people based in the UK. So it’s not just about being positive, it’s about the world looking at us differently, saying, ‘There is a future in South Africa’.
“We just have to make it positive and keep going. All young democracies are suffering from setbacks, as we saw a few months ago. Obviously, we were very sad about it, but we have to move forward in a positive way, all together and make the most of where we are.
“We have completed the town planning in Seaton; all of our approvals are in place. We’ve had Rand 350 million in unique residential site sales so far – and we’ve only published one-third of those sites. Only a sixth of the PUD [planned unit development] sites were raised, and we broke new ground. So, effectively, the Seaton [development] is on its way.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to have a massive launch [for Seaton] because of Covid, but watch this space.
“We have yet to release the high-density enclosure or the advertisement [side]. So there is a lot to come. We are very excited about Seaton and things are getting better and better… ”
“At the Mount Edgecombe Retirement Village, we are closing some phase 2 sales, and we will also be launching phase 3, which is our last phase. Sales there were stable and constant.
“Our estate called Emberton, which is in Hillcrest, has pretty much completed phase 2, which has been sold. Again we will be launching phase 3 in the new year, with our ECD [early childhood development] school for 80 students, which is very exciting for the region. So basically we’re coming to the end of our development at Mount Edgecombe and Emberton, and our focus will be totally on the north coast. We are very excited about this.
“We’re going to be launching an estate inland from Seaton, which I don’t want to talk too much about now – but it’s going to be very exciting and it’s a 600 unit / house development. It will be at a very good entry level. It’s going to be at the beginning of the year, next year, so we’re going to launch that.
“Obviously our tourism business right now has had a terrible time over the past two years, [but] we are very excited about the rise in recent months in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Seychelles. ”
“I hope tourism will come… and, with Club Med in a few years, tourism will make a comeback, which is vital for this country, and we have to prepare for it. ”
In total, what is the rand value of Collins Residential developments across KwaZulu-Natal?
“It’s a difficult question to answer. I wouldn’t really know… Seaton is a huge project and we have been involved with the Royal Shaka Property Group, which owns around 4,500 hectares, to be developed between Sheffield [beach] and KwaDukuza.
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“So we have enough land and potential development to last us for the next 15 years. But to put a financial context on it would be impossible at this stage. ”
“I just think, you know, we always hear the negative in life and [on] social media; it is always the negative things that are reported.
“I think it’s time for South Africans, who are very resilient by nature, to become positive and make a difference because that’s what will move us forward.
“We know mistakes have been made in the past, but I think we have to look to the future and choose the leaders who are going to get us there.”