A modern gem in Victorian Cape Town

Situated in the heart of Observatory, Mitra Mews merges history with contemporary design in a beautiful, privately developed small mixed-use precinct, with a retail shop and short and long-term accommodation rentals.

Owned by the husband and wife architect duo Alastair Rendall and Gita Goven, construction of Mitra Mews was completed at the end of last year. The precinct features a complex that offers both short-term and long-term rental options – with nine fully furnished units, including fibre Internet connectivity and smart televisions. Four of the units are duplexes with four-bedrooms and a bathroom on each of the two levels, and five of which are two-bedroom units both with en-suite bathrooms.

The 840sqm site has parking for 11 cars and includes a convenience store, a music studio, letting office, and laundry, as well as a completely refurbished Victorian house which is part of the Observatory Heritage protection Area containing many of the remaining Victorian and Edwardian architecture buildings in South Africa. The precinct is also within walking distance of more than 20 different restaurants and bars as well as the metrorail station, bus stops, and two shopping centres.

Alastair Rendall says, “My wife and I have been in the rental business for 26-years and were looking for an investment that would ultimately allow us to reduce our dependence on our professional service business and generate an income from the rental property. This would free us up in generating innovative solutions to mixed income inspiring settlements. Considering this property was in front of our home it made sense for us to purchase it when it came on the market. It was also small enough to make the development manageable for us without requiring the services of a massive third-party developer.”

Both Alastair and Gita are passionate about designing everything using sustainable materials and making their developments as water and energy efficient as possible. To this end, the complex has been constructed using eco-friendly green-lite concrete blocks, and water supplied by a borehole that is fully filtered and purified on-site. For energy, the development relies on a photo-voltaic water heating and electricity generation system, with heat pump back-up, to help make it as eco-friendly as possible. There is also a predominantly edible urban courtyard landscape with 24 fruit trees and medicinal, herbal and culinary plants. We are also building relationships with our local community to bring events and opportunities that our guests can enjoy as a distinct OBS experience.

“We both feel it is important to build something up in the city without taking it outside of Cape Town. Because Observatory has a high density of Victorian houses and falls in a protected area, it was quite a challenging process to get all the required approvals for the renovation of the house and the construction of the units. The shop front had a canopy over the sidewalk which I wanted to retain as it is quite a feature on the street,” adds Alastair.

Even though Mitra Mews was receiving good online reviews and started building momentum on the rental front, the recent lockdown as part of the COVID-19 containment measures has meant that the owners required to rethink their short-term plans.

“While there is still a lot of uncertainty in the market, we are exploring making the units available to health professionals as we are within walking distance of a hospital. There is also a possibility of continuing with the long-term rentals targeting foreign and local students, but with the second half of the year is difficult to predict as universities will likely continue with online education we are keeping all options open at this stage,” indicates Alastair. Mitra Mews received R11 million in funding from TUHF.

“It has been a great experience working with committed clients like Alastair and Gita. Not only have they followed through on what they promised to accomplish, but they also produced quality work in the development of Mitra Mews. This goes a long way in establishing the foundation of a strong client relationship,” says Anne Meiring, Credit Analyst at TUHF.

“From our side, we are heavily invested in this project on a personal level. My wife and I had to furnish all the units ourselves. Our youngest son is a photographer, so we printed some of his photographs to put in the units as well. Our older son is a musician and is using the music studio to produce his music. He is getting ready to launch his first album globally soon. This adds to us being embedded in the project and doing everything we can to manage the short-term complications of the lockdown by taking a more long-term view of its potential,” says Alastair.

Given the picturesque location and the quality of the development, it certainly does bode a lot of potential that will benefit its owners and tenants well into the future.

“TUHF has created an impact in Cape Town by giving great attention to the Bellville, Parow, Observatory, Goodwood and areas within the Voortrekker Road corridor. Through providing financial backing to private developers, TUHF has assisted in uplifting these formerly neglected and under-invested arears which were regressing rapidly, by improving safety, quality of life and the socio-economic situation,” says Dihedile Mphachoe, Portfolio Manager at TUHF.

Facts

  • Location: 31 Station Road, Observatory, Cape Town, 2935
  • TUHF Product: Mitra Mews
  • Original configuration: Victorian house with old sheds and a shop
  • Configuration upon completion: Green townhouse security complex with nine apartments (four 4-bedroom apartments each with two bathrooms; five 2-bedroom apartments each with en-suite bathrooms), shop, music studio, and refurbished Victorian House that contains a 2-bed ground floor apartment, letting office and laundry

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