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JOHANNESBURG: BUY HERE: Our insider’s guide to Observatory

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This suburb in eastern Joburg is close to the city’s main airport, shopping malls and good schools. Its older homes on large properties have been secured in boomed-off areas

If your workplace is in the Joburg CBD or surrounds, Observatory would be worth considering as your place of abode.

“Observatory is centrally located for easier access to main highways, major shopping centres and the Joburg CBD,” says Gavin Chimes, an Observatory area specialist for Vered Estates.

Aside from proximity to essential amenities such as schools, a host of landmarks and main centres, Observatory is also worth considering for other reasons, says Chimes. He says properties are relatively well-priced and built on huge stands; in some cases as big as one hectare.

Chimes lists the views over Joburg and Observatory Golf Course as another bonus. The suburb also fits the bill when it comes to security, thanks to boomed-off secure areas and 24/7 manned patrols.

He says: “Properties which afford great views and are in boomed-off locations tend to be more popular.” Resident Kim Bricknell draws attention to the fine heritage homes in the old Observatory area and some excellent modern architecture quality homes in Observatory Extension on the northern side of the golf course, built in the 1930s and ’40s.

She also enthuses about the hidden treasures and abundant beauty spots one finds. These include the Cecil Skotness mural in Mons Road, evidence of early geological formations and magnetic rocks on the Observatory Golf Course, the miniature train society on the edge of the golf course, Herbert Baker architecture in the original library of the meteorological/ weather observatory point, and the ornate entrance gates at Sacred Heart College on Eckstein Street.

For prospective investors, the good news is sales are picking up as the area appears to be emerging from a trough it entered in 2014.

“There has been a decline in sales from 2014 on a gradual basis, with the exception of 2018 where there was an increase over 2017,” says Chimes, who notes freehold property prices declined from an average R2.1 million in 2017 to about R1.5m.

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Properties which afford great views and are in boomed-off locations tend to generally be more popular. – Gavin Chimes, Observatory Area Specialist, Vered Estates Picture: Supplied

He says properties advertised at the top-end of R4m have been slow to sell and include a few commercial properties marketed between R19m and R22m. In the past year, over half of new home buyers in Observatory were aged between 18 and 49, says Chimes, citing Lightstone data.

He says data also shows 62% of residents have lived in Observatory for at least 11 years. “This is an indication it is a stable area,” says Chimes.

He advises prospective home buyers to ascertain their affordability thresholds and associated hidden costs. “Buy long term and buy for proximity to your place of work/ lifestyle,” advises Chimes. He says homes in De Wetshof are slightly more affordable. Observatory was established in 1903.

Kim Bricknell’s favourite places and things to do

Observatory is a green suburb with large value-for-money properties and proximity to the Observatory Golf Course and parks. The area has one of the lowest crime rates in Joburg. It is close to OR Tambo International Airport, Joburg CBD, Rosebank, Sandton and lots of schools. – Kim Bricknell, resident Picture: Supplied

1 Observatory Sports Club

Offers sporting group meets, exercise classes, beach volleyball, karate, dancing, gymnastics and more. 59 Frederick Street, Observatory. 0845477711

Observatory Sports Club. Picture: John Makoni

2 Sylvia’s Outdoor Market

At Observatory Sports Club on a Sunday with live music, food, crafts, a book market and children’s farm. 59 Frederick Street, Observatory. 0733970140

3 Culinary delights

Favourites are O’Chefe Restaurant (excellent Portuguese cuisine) at Observatory Sports Club (0736836841); Kung Fu Kitchen for delicious chow mein (35 Friedland Avenue, Cyrildene, 0116166484); and Anong Thai Restaurant (20 Hettie Street, corner Derrick Avenue, Cyrildene, 0742406712)

4 Observatory Golf Course

Reputed to be the oldest municipal golf club in Joburg, founded in 1913. Good Sunday breakfasts overlooking the greens. Steyn Street, Observatory. 0116489579

5 Harvey Nature Reserve

Great for a group walk. 59 Beryl Street, Cyrildene 6 Scenic walks On Kallenbach Drive, Hannaben Street or along Klip Street from Aida Avenue to Innes Street.

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