|This year, 2023, marks a significant milestone for St Francis Links because its property development period will come to an end at the estate’s next AGM on 11 January 2024.
Although all directors serving the estate have always been property owners as well, the boards of the Homeowners Association (HOA) and Club will no longer have any developer representation. The development period came as a result of all the remaining developer properties, some of which were purchased by the HOA, and which are now being sold.
So the next phase of this successful estate’s story gets even more exciting. Liezl Clause, operations manager of St Francis Links told St Francis Chronicle plans are underway to develop expanded family recreational facilities to cater for more residents who seek a full array of activities to entertain each member of the family, no matter their age.
Now in its 17th year, St Francis Links is booming. With a current shortage of property stock, the supply and demand chain currently have vacant land and completed homes at the highest pricing the estate has ever experienced. The entry level is now R550 000 for vacant land, while homes are nearing R18 million in price.
Before Covid, the estate had around 22 homes under construction at once. A post-pandemic boom in property sales and development of homes within the HOA’s strict design guidelines has led to more than 50 homes under construction consistently over the last two years.
It is interesting to note these homes are around 80% permanently occupied, as opposed to only 54% pre-Covid. In 2020/2021, there were 112, (including 17 homes), transfers of freehold properties that were registered. This climbed to 150 (including 41 completed homes) in 2021/2022.
Once considered to be a second home development with mostly holidaymakers visiting over seasonal periods, the estate continues to turn heads since it continues to prosper. When the estate first opened in 2006, it won an award as the ‘Best New Golf Course in South Africa’.
The estate then went on to climb the ladder further and it is now firmly established as the 4th Top Ranked Course in the country. The estate’s accolades in golf also include ‘The Best Golf Course in South Africa’, awarded in Dubai in 2021, plus numerous experience awards. The Club also won a number of ‘Best Wedding Venue’ accolades.
“We realise our estate is diverse and that not everyone plays golf,” Liezl says. “Young families, and grandchildren visiting their grandparents, need more amenities.”
She adds the Links is looking at establishing multi-sport and recreational facilities, in addition to the highly frequented Leisure Centre. This centre boasts an exclusive gymnasium and 20m heated pool with a retractable cover which opened almost 11 years ago.
“St Francis Links has earned the reputation of being a proven and unique destination for weddings, conferences and also first home residents” CEO, Jeff Clause, relates. He says the careful and responsible development of the estate contributed to the beauty of the celebrated fauna and flora enjoyed there. Indeed, since the estate is home to many species of birds, it is not unusual and it is a delight for visitors and residents to spot antelope, tortoise and other beautiful wildlife while enjoying walks on the estate.
With the acquisition of some 80 hectares of land by the HOA from the developer, Jeff also reveals that more hiking trails and mountain bike routes will expand the offering for outdoor enthusiasts. “Early foresight by our boards of directors, along with sustainable and responsible development, strict environmental protocols and building regulations has secured a vision which many from the metros in our country can only dream of.” Jeff points out that besides this pristine piece of land, the HOA also owns the Sand River Nature Reserve and is the custodian of its rich biodiversity since working closely with the Greater Kromme Stewardship Trust and Conservation Outcomes.
“In addition, the estate’s infrastructure is sound, well maintained and managed in-house – and this includes water and electrical reticulation,” Jeff says.
Of interest also, is that more than three years ago, the Links HOA invested in a large water treatment plant and now produces all of its own potable and non-potable water. Construction of new homes use only non-potable water delivered by the estate’s two water bowser trucks. These trucks have also been used during fires in Sea Vista.
Jeff also remarks: “A strong balance sheet with well managed reserves have ensured that property owners have never faced special levies. Comparisons to estates of a similar nature show the levies paid by Links owners are among the lowest in the country.
“And we as management of this lovely pocket of excellence are well aware of our social responsibility. Five of the most senior employees serve the Disaster Volunteer Group and the estate team members often help out wherever they are needed. They have assisted in maintaining the St Francis Community Gardens for years and also host many fundraising events for organisations such as the NSRI, Hospice and others.”
Together with their team, Jeff and Liezl Clause have built a culture of inclusiveness and they welcome local and international visitors as if they were members. “The recently renovated bar inside the clubhouse has been well received by everyone who frequents this beautiful building forming the heart of the estate. It features a new open plan pizza oven station and was recently a favourite destination to view the Rugby World Cup. This is phase one of clubhouse upgrades.”
Jeff and Liezl also reveal that Phase two plans are underway to upgrade the bar, furniture and event facilities. The Links’ new chef Pieter Germishuys and new food and beverage manager Garth Concar are breathing new life and service that one would expect of a destination such as this, into the club offering.
The new menu features scrumptious dishes, which several have vouched for and the Links team plans an exciting festive season programme which they will publish soon.
In hindsight it is important to add that St Francis Links is truly a close community within a community. It is a place where residents feel secure. One new resident told St Francis Chronicle they have never felt safer, nor lived in a more cared for, friendly environment.