Two hundred prospective home buyers attended the launch of the magnificent R150-million 1000-hectare Olivewood housing and golf estate in the hills overlooking Chintsa on Tuesday night.
It was bought out of insolvency from the Chintsa Golf Estate by London-based property magnate and friend of the British royals, Kuldip “Mr Singh” Dhillon, and Chintsa developer Tim Davidson.
Dhillon told the guests that after the first golf estate deal “with a crook” crashed, “being an Englishman” he wandered over to the five-star Prana Lodge in Chintsa East for “a cup of tea”.
There he met the owner, dedicated golfer Tim Davidson. Davidson, speaking with emotion from a massive deck under the umbrella of a huge Bolivian tipuana tree, said that after much talking, the two men came up with the Olivewood concept and went for it “on the basis of a handshake”.
The friendship was based on Davidson supplying the ideas and Dhillon supplying the cash – a deal which both men warmly described as rambunctious – “At one point I thought I would just give him a good klap and get it over with”, Davidson said to laughter.
After praising their achievement, the two men embraced to applause.
They had produced an 18-hole golfcourse and clubhouse rated fourth best in the Eastern Cape by Golf Digest – even though it only officially opened last weekend, and an environmentally self-sufficient largely indigenous estate offering 550 lifestyle plots and homes for young and mature buyers, for singles and larger families.
An entry level home and plot costs R2.5-million. Architects AJ Corbett and Erik Orts-Hansen, of TCN Architects in East London and Knysna, said their designs were modern and light on the earth, picked up on the character of the Eastern Cape and took into account the prevailing weather. Homes would have their own rain tanks and solar panels, which would be tied into an internal estate power grid.
Davidson showed the Dispatch the main complex’s sewage system, where treated effluent flows through two dams down a stoney stream with ponds all of which will soon be thick with reeds. This cleaned grey water would be used for the golf course and grounds.
The estate and it’s bent grass fairways and greens had survived the drought using the estate’s own water from dams, springs and boreholes.
The plots, of which 18 were purchased before the official launch, and two are under construction, will plug into shared sewage “pods” and will then be gravity fed into a large still-to-be built treatment plant lower down.
Davidson gave the Dispatch a tour of the transformed 1920s farmhouse and sheds, which have become a gracious clubhouse, large bar, handcrafted wooden locker rooms with leather couches and art, a pro shop, all framed by huge lawns and indigenous plants.
The plants came from his son Nicholas Davidson’s on-site nursery, which has 50000 plants.
Dhillon told the guests he was expecting investment of R5-billion to come into the estate in the next five years, but said only investors’ money would be going into the business.
“There will be no banks because we believe in what Tim Davidson is able to do.”
He said East London was a prudent, conservative market but “under those plains, lands there is a lot of gold”.
The city had “a lot of financial ability”, and investors would be attracted to the “visionary” Olivewood offering created by Davidson, whom he called a development “artist”.
Davidson thanked his team, and said it made him proud to be able to employ 200 people in the area.
He said: “We will revolutionise living in the Eastern Cape. This will be the first proper housing estate in the Eastern Cape. Homeowners would see an “unprecedented increase in value” in their investments.”
Great Kei Municipality mayor Loyiso Tshetsha said: “This is the first time I have been here. It is beautiful.”
He said the development was part of putting Great Kei on the path to a “brighter future”.
“This is about the potential of development and it is good for jobs.”