The following is a list of projects we are engaged in under the various programs:

1. Sustainability

Green building


Team Leader: Associate Professor Francois Viruly

The focus of this program is on the sustainability and social factors of ESG. 


1.1 The Property Clinic

Researcher: Lesedi Kgaka

2. Public Land Development Research Program



Team Leader: Rob Mc.Gaffin


The Public Land Development Research Programme (PLDRP) was initiated in 2016 with seed funding from the Johannesburg Property Company. The objectives of the programme are to:

  • Undertake research to support public sector property development.
  • Build collaboration between entities undertaking public property development.
  • Build collaboration and understanding between the public and private sectors.
  • Build a body of knowledge for “best practice” in public property development.
  • Provide training and support for public property development.

A key initiative under the programme is the Public Sector Property Forum (PSPF) which has over 60 members from 18 public sector organisations (municipalities, national and provincial departments, and State-Owned Enterprises). The Forum meets once a quarter to discuss critical issues and lessons about public land development.

In terms of training, the first Public Sector Property Programme will be run in May 2022, which aims to equip participants with the key concepts and skills concerning Public Property Asset Management and Development.

Research undertaken to date under the PLDRP includes:

  • Reasons for success or failure in the delivery of public property development projects.
    • This research reviewed the factors determining the success of 72 public land projects undertaken by the Johannesburg Property Company between 2000 and 2016.
  • The development of a model determining the optimal term of a public land lease.
    • Municipalities and other public entities in South Africa often dispose of land they own to generate income for municipal purposes and achieve broader economic and social objectives. To date, the most common method to do this has been to dispose of the land on a freehold basis. However, this approach has been questioned. It is argued that the municipality may forego higher annuity income in the future, and the long-term assets are lost in infinity. Despite these concerns, there has not been a systematic assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of disposing of public land through leasehold versus freehold methods and how such disposals should be structured in each case. In response, the Public Land Development Research Programme in URERU developed a financial model to assess the optimum length of a public land development lease.
  • Legal considerations are about a leasehold structure for public land developments – The Waterfall Estate Case.
    • The Waterfall Estate is a successful development undertaken using a leasehold model between private parties. A leasehold structure has been designed to address the land-owner, developers, financiers and buyers and end-user tenants. Through this process, numerous issues and challenges have been resolved. The Urban Real Estate Research Unit examined the Waterfall Estate case to assess whether municipalities could dispose of their land using a similar leasehold model. A particular focus was placed on the security offered by the lease agreements, the sale, cession, and sub-letting conditions of the lease agreements and what happens at the end of the lease terms.

Past Projects

2.1 Leasehold Land Lease Model

2.2 Waterfall Estate Leasehold Case Study

2.3 Success Factors for Public Sector Land Development Projects

2.4 Public Sector Forum

2.5 Public Sector Training Program

3. Market Analysis and Performance

Home and keys


Team Leader: Rob Mc.Gaffin


Assessment of the structure, functioning, actors, and performance of commercial & residential markets as well as the Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental and Political (STEEP) forces that drive these markets.

Research undertaken to date under this programme includes:

  • The cost drivers of affordable housing delivery in Cape Town
    • Mapping the development process in Cape Town
    • The challenge of developing higher density, affordable housing in the inner city of Cape Town
  • Micro-developers in Cape Town
  • Inclusionary housing in Cape Town
  • A methodology of how to undertake housing market assessments.
  • An assessment of the location and performance of Cape Town’s housing market from 2012 – 2018
  • The development of a tool to assess the investment performance of housing in Cape Town
  • The use of land-based financing and value capture to finance infrastructure in South Africa
  • An assessment of where and why the different economic sectors locate where they do


3.1 Housing Data Analysis (the City of Cape Town)

Researchers: Lesedi Kgaka, Marlene Masvikeni and Rob Mc.Gaffin

3.2 Mapping the Development Process in Cape Town

3.3 Micro-Developers

3.4 Workspace Research

Researcher: Lesedi Kgaka

3.5 Cape Town Property Market Analysis

Researchers: Lucia Schlemmer and Rob Mc.Gaffin

3.6 Industrial Property Market Research

Researcher: Lesedi Kgaka

4. Urban Development and Management

City skyline


Team Leader: Associate Professor Kathy Michell


4.1 Value Capture Research

4.2 The Night-Time Economy in Cape Town

Researchers: Kathy Michell, Francois Viruly, Lesedi Kgaka and Luke Boyle

4.3 Neighbourhood Sustainability Framework

5. Finance and Investment

Finance tracking software


Team Leader: Frank


5.1 Green Bonds, Social Bonds, Sustainability Bonds