Arlington Racecourse
Arlington Racecourse, Gqeberha (Image supplied by Broll Auctions)
  • Arlington Racecourse in Gqeberha has been sold at auction for R25.7 million.
  • The abandoned track will be developed into a residential estate, with rezoning processes already underway.
  • Funds from the sale will be used to assist Phumelela Gaming and Leisure, the ground’s former owner, in its ongoing business rescue process.
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Arlington Racecourse in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) has sold at auction for R25.7 million to a “Durban-based” consortium. The land is expected to be developed into a residential area, while funds from the sale will go towards Phumelela Gaming and Leisure’s business rescue process.

The auction of the 62 hectares of land, dubbed as a “once-in-a-lifetime development opportunity” by Broll Auctions, was completed on Friday morning. Bidding started at R10 million and as the price rose to the upper teens, it was reported that a “bidding war” evolved between a Johannesburg-based investor and a Durban group. The latter ultimately secured the auction.

“It’s a prominent Durban consortium that bought it and they were competing against an investor from Johannesburg,” says Ismail Hendricks, group auctioneer for Broll Auctions, adding that buyer’s identity would likely be made public at a later stage.

“Their plans are to build a residential estate there.”

Situated between Walmer Heights and Milkwood Estate, roughly 7.7km from Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport, Arlington Racecourse hosted thousands of horse races since it was founded in 1950.

Support for Arlington began to dwindle in the early 2000s, as horse trainers opted for the better-equipped Fairview Racecourse, which is 30km inland. In 2007, Fairview completed the construction of a new stabling complex.

Arlington Racecourse
Arlington Racecourse, Gqeberha (Image supplied by Broll Auctions)

Phumelela Gaming and Leisure, the country’s largest horse racing and tote betting operator, owned Arlington but has its regional headquarters at Fairview. Arlington’s last horse race was run in 2013 and was preceded by Phumelela’s last-ditch attempts to offload the property to the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and Africa Race Group (ARG).

The latter resulted in a protracted legal battle, which ultimately led the Public Protector to investigate former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste as a key shareholder in Phumelela Gaming and Leisure. Costly court battles and dwindling revenue led Phumelela to enter voluntary business rescue in May 2020.

Arlington Racecourse
Arlington Racecourse, Gqeberha (Image supplied by Broll Auctions)
Arlington Racecourse
Arlington Racecourse, Gqeberha (Image supplied by Broll Auctions)

The historic auction of Arlington – noted as South Africa’s first horse racing track to go under the hammer, according to Broll Auctions – is part of this business rescue process.

The vacant land, which houses a pavilion, horse stables, paddocks, office, and staff accommodation buildings is currently zoned as “Open Space 2” with permission for a place of entertainment and place of assembly.

Arlington Racecourse
Arlington Racecourse, Gqeberha (Image supplied by Broll Auctions)

But the land is primed for residential development, with a rezoning application already submitted and received by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. The application process will, however, need to be finalised by the buyer.

“It is adjacent to the popular suburb of Walmer Heights and with easy access from Victoria Drive or Glendore Road, it is the last large piece of land within the hub of the main city, less than ten minutes from the airport, and making it ideal for residential estate development or an industrial park, subject to approvals from the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality,” explains Ismail Hendricks, Group Auctioneer for Broll Auctions.

Arlington Racecourse
Arlington Racecourse, Gqeberha (Image supplied by Broll Auctions)

The Arlington auction was held at Radisson Hotel in Gqeberha. Interested buyers will needed to pay a R100,000 registration fee which is refundable.

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