Monday, October 22

BUY HERE: Our insider’s guide to Irene

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Irene is an old area with a rural feel, but close to urban living

Irene is an established, wellplaced suburb with older homes which may be renovated to suit any buyer’s requirements and where the spirit of community is alive and well in a safe environment. 

“Homes are generally large on stands of 2 000m² or more. Irene is a beautiful suburb known for its trees,” says Elaine Haupt of Seeff Centurion, who alludes to the neighbourhood’s rich historical heritage. It was a site for one of the concentration camps set up during the South African War and has a memorial with the names of those who lost their lives. Former prime minister Jan Smuts lived in Irene.

Irene today is typified by a strong spirit of community, presided over by the Irene Landowners’ Association which is “managed and run by the residents for the residents”, says Haupt, who adds: “Irene is not a security estate in the true sense of the word, but safety of residents is priority.”

The underperforming economy has not spared Irene; like pretty much everywhere else, it’s a buyers’ market and Haupt has had a grand property marked at R9 million on her books for months. She believes after next year’s poll the market will bounce back, making it worthwhile to invest in Irene. Property prices here range from around R2m to R9m; buyers can purchase older properties and fix them up. At the other end of the spectrum is Cornwall Hill Estate.

Entry level homes are priced at around R3.4m. Haupt cites properties priced in the mid-teens (between R15m and R16m) currently listed in the estate. Estate agents make a point of telling prospective buyers that Cornwall Hill, home to the elite Cornwall Hill College, is just 20 minutes from OR International Airport, mindful of the probable jet-set ways of their well-heeled clientele.

Says Haupt: “You are among great schools. There’s Southdowns College and Cornwall Hill College; also Little Oak Montessori Nursery School and Irene Primary.” Irene Dairy Farm, which has since been rebranded Irene Farm, is a popular family outing venue. Other attractions are Irene Country Club and African Pride Irene Country Lodge, one of many lodges and guesthouses, including Greenlea on King Street and The Colonial, just opposite Irene Oval, a social cricket and soccer venue.

There is access to a nearby Gautrain station, which is a factor drawing in younger residents. “The trend I’m noticing is that the millennials, young professionals who have been to university and are working, including actuaries, are coming to live here in appreciable numbers,” she says. Property values here compare well with those in Brooklyn.

Robyn de Veer’s favourite places and things to do

Irene is a really beautiful older suburb with lovely trees and lots of nature. It is also centrally located. Everything is so near, including shops and hangouts. It takes only 15 minutes to
get to work in Menlo Park and my nearest shopping centre, Doringkloof Mall, is also
convenient. There are lots of great places to visit. – Resident Robyn de Veer Picture: Supplied

1 Irene Village Bistro

I like their pizza and pasta. They also serve eisbein and terrific lamb chops. 5, Irene Shopping Centre, Main Road and Nellmapius Drive, Irene. 012 667 6169

2 Irene Farm

It’s a great place to walk around. There are beautiful ancient oaks, a dam with swans and tractors for children to play on. Nellmapius Road, Irene. 012 667 4822

3 The Oval

We walk there almost every evening. There’s a spirit of community as one often meets the same people. Irene Security Estate, Irene

4 The Big Red Barn

This area has a forest and mountain biking trails and you can select nice roses at Ludwig’s; pizzas are also super. 7 Nelson Road, Olifantsfontein. 072 617 7667

5 Clay Café

Serves fine breakfast. Sunlawns AH, Olifantsfontein. 072 604 0090

6 Doppio Zero

Gourmet pizzas, Mediterranean dishes. 52 Southdowns Retail Centre, John Vorster Drive and Karee Street, Irene. 012 665 0784 

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