Building Dreams into Reality: The Hein Ehlers Story with Devmark Property Group

Hein Ehlers

In the first article of this three-part series, we traced the inspiring journey of Hein Ehlers and the establishment of Devmark Property Group. Ehlers’ story, unfolding in the bustling corridors of Pepkor during the 70s and 80s, is a narrative of adaptability and visionary insight.

His early interest in retail and Shopping Centre development drove his venture into property development, initially on a part-time basis. This pursuit soon evolved into a full-time ambition, leading to the formation of the renowned Devmark Property Group. Ehlers’ transition from a corporate employee to an entrepreneur was marked by resilience and strategic insight, as he navigated through economic downturns and a global pandemic.

His story serves as an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs, exemplifying the power of perseverance and innovation – essential qualities in today’s dynamic and challenging world of property development.

In this second part of our series, we focus on Devmark Property Group’s defining projects, which have significantly influenced the South African property market. Devmark’s diverse range, spanning residential, retirement, and commercial sectors, underscores Ehlers’ talent for seizing varied opportunities. Notably, Clé du Cap Retirement Village and Camps Bay Residential Development exemplify his blend of visionary ideas and practical execution, showcasing innovative design and his commitment to elevating community living and property development standards.

Clé du Cap Retirement Village

Clé du Cap Retirement Village

Developed in the early 90s, this pioneering project is one of the first successful retirement villages, situated in the southern suburbs. Located on a former drive-in site opposite the Blue Route Mall, Clé du Cap has impressively maintained its contemporary appeal nearly three decades later. Reflecting on its enduring quality, Ehlers remarked, “It is now almost 30 years later, and if you walk in there today, it looks like it was built yesterday. It has not aged.” This development not only showcases Ehlers’ ability to identify and capitalize on unique development opportunities, but also underlines his commitment to enduring quality.

Camps Bay Residential Development

Camps BaySituated in Camps Bay, the site was a steep embankment and formed part of the property of the Camps Bay high school. This project faced unique challenges. Accessing the site without disrupting school activities required an ingenious solution: navigating partly beneath the rugby field. The steepness of the embankment also demanded sophisticated engineering, resolved by constructing a robust retaining structure. This luxury development is notable for its innovative engineering, overcoming logistical and structural challenges, with Hein Ehlers playing a key role in its transformation into a desirable residential area.

Building on the momentum of past successes, Devmark Property Group continues to expand its impressive portfolio with a series of current residential projects. These include Langebaan Manor in the seaside town of Langebaan, Helderberg Manor in Somerset West, Plettenberg Manor set in Plettenberg Bay, The Glen located in Bellville, and Klein D’Aria, nestled in the Durbanville area. Each of these projects reflects Devmark’s commitment to quality and innovation, tailored to meet the unique needs and character of their respective regions. Among these noteworthy endeavours is De Zwartland Werf, a monumental mixed-use development which is transforming the town of Malmesbury, and stands as a testament to Hein Ehlers’ ambition and proficiency in handling large-scale projects.

De Zwartland Werf Mixed-Use Development

De Zwartland Werf Mixed-Use Development

De Zwartland Werf, strategically located, will span 46,000 sqm in Malmesbury upon completion. It involved a significant soil relocation process, moving and compacting approximately 220 thousand tons of soil. Remarkably, this task was executed with such efficiency that no soil needed to be carted away.

The development’s scope is extensive, featuring a diverse array of facilities including, a modern 15,000 m² shopping centre, a state-of-the-art sub-acute hospital scheduled for completion by March 2024, modern office buildings, and a mix of residential and retirement apartments. Complementing these facilities is a smaller 1,800 sqm Shopping Centre, further enhancing the convenience and accessibility of the development.

De Zwartland Werf stands out not just for its size, but for its transformative effect on the local area. Redefining Malmesbury’s entrance with an architecturally significant design, it connects five roads through a striking circular structure, and introduces new retail experiences previously unavailable in the area.

Ehlers’ vision for De Zwartland Werf was to create more than just a building complex; he aimed to establish a landmark that would uplift and redefine the community. This vision was actualized through meticulous planning, reflecting the careful consideration of the site’s challenges and the seamless integration of various components. Under Ehlers’ guidance, a site once overlooked has been transformed into a thriving hub of activity. Reflecting on the project’s impact, Ehlers said, “This development is going to make an architectural statement.”

Commitment to Social Sustainability and Community Impact

Hein Ehlers’ strategy transcends traditional methods by emphasizing social sustainability and community welfare. Devmark’s social housing initiatives, particularly Glenhaven, underscore their commitment to societal improvement for South Africa’s lower-income groups.

The project’s success lies in its comprehensive approach to tenant integration and management. Devmark’s strategic handling, through rigorous tenant screening and educational programs, ensured the successful integration of informed and responsible residents. This led to remarkable outcomes, including a near-perfect collection rate, minimal vacancies, and low bad debt. Glenhaven has been recognized as one of the country’s best social housing developments, reflecting Devmark’s blend of physical development and social responsibility.

Devmark’s journey, led by Hein Ehlers, exemplifies the impactful fusion of visionary planning and community commitment, reshaping South Africa’s property landscape. Ehlers’ story is a testament to how innovation and social responsibility can redefine property development.

Next Month: Stay tuned for Part 3, where we delve into Hein Ehlers’ insights on the current trends in the South African property market. Additionally, we will gather Ehlers’ advice for young entrepreneurs in property development and investment, offering a glimpse into the strategic thinking that has driven Devmark’s success.

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