We chat with Dimitri about his experience in developing the Acsiopolis Building, and @Sandton Hotel and @Sandton Apartments within.
Tell us a bit about your background?
I have a strong engineering background and graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1999 with a BSc focused in Electrical Engineering. I made a move into the real estate industry when I joined Acsion Limited in 2004 as I had always been passionate about property. Here I focused on leasing and development within the group and was an Executive Director for Acsion’s subsidiary companies as well as Anaprop Property Management, Acsion’s development arm. For the last two years or so, my role has been as International Operations Director, where I have been based in Cyprus, with a notable achievement that of opening Metropolis Mall in Cyprus.
Tell us a bit about Acsion Limited and Anaprop?
Acsion is a JSE-listed specialist property developer and property holding company. Its portfolio of properties have all been developed in-house in carefully chosen markets where there’s scope for high-growth. While most developments have been predominantly retail-focused in the past, our latest development Acsiopolis in Sandton is mixed-use, with a clever mix of retail, services, residential and leisure. Our differentiator as a company is that we believe in value engineering, where we maintain the highest standards while taking an innovative approach to realise effective cost-savings.
Anaprop Property Management focuses on the hands-on development and management of Acsion’s properties, taking a property from conception straight through to the day-to-day running. Anaprop provides a pivotal link between the developer Acsion Limited, the teams on the ground and tenants – essentially, they ensure that every aspect of the development is high-performing and managed correctly.
What, to you, is exciting about the Acsiopolis development in Sandton?
Without a doubt, it’s that the building houses absolutely everything under one roof. It can compare to the type of development that you see in Dubai and in other big cities, where people have full, busy lives and no desire to compromise on lifestyle. They still want to visit the spa, grocery shop, drop their kids off at the creche, enjoy a lovely meal and pop into the office to catch up on work – but they don’t want to waste time on commuting or accept sub-par services. Everything must be top-notch, effective, accessible and luxurious, and that’s what we’ve created at the Acsiopolis Node in Sandton.
Why is Sandton ideal for this type of development?
The suburb is still very much one of the busiest nodes in Johannesburg, and indeed the business hub of South Africa. While it is incredibly central and the base for key business and operation head offices, it’s also an area that is quite congested and often difficult to live in or to navigate. For us, it’s been massively worthwhile to develop a mixed-use high rise that will make life demonstrably better for those who live within the building, visit the hotel or want to make use of its facilities.
Can you share how the Acsiopolis model will be deployed into international markets?
We have not deployed the Acsiopolis model international markets yet, but will surely be taking the learnings and business model we have developed over the past 7 years to other countries. Certainly, other mixed-use lifestyle properties exist in other countries, as the work-live-play concept has been the trend for a few years now, due to the busy lifestyles and traffic densification of cities.
Internationally, we have opened the Metropolis Mall in Lanarca, Cyprus, which is a fully-enclosed single-level shopping and lifestyle centre that has a catchment area within a 40km radius. As with Acsiopolis in Sandton, customers will have all their needs met in one location and it caters for families, children, teenagers and adults. With a full retail offering, including a supermarket, major fashion retailers, branded and independent shops, services, entertainment, modern restaurants and cafes, kids play areas and free WiFi, it is Larnaca’s ultimate lifestyle and shopping metropolis! This project has given us the foundation and impetus for further developments in Europe, and we are currently assessing various opportunities.