Inside Anfa, the Casablanca Neighbourhood Attracting Multimillion-Dollar Home Buyers
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Inside Anfa, the Casablanca Neighbourhood Attracting Multimillion-Dollar Home Buyers

The historic area has long been the city’s most exclusive residential enclave, offering a choice of French colonial homes, traditional Moroccan villas or new builds with plenty of land

By INDIA STOUGHTON
Mon, Jun 3, 2024 8:39amGrey Clock 5 min

Offering a beguiling blend of rich history and cutting-edge modernity, the seaside neighbourhood of Anfa is where Casablanca’s most exclusive and luxurious residences are located.

The historic Moroccan neighbourhood still bears the original name of the port city, which was called Anfa from the time it was founded around the 10th century B.C., up until the 15th century, when its name changed to Casablanca.

“In the 7th century, Anfa was home to a fishing port. It then lost its influence until the period of the French Protectorate,” said Marc Leon, CEO of Christie’s Real Estate Morocco. The French ruled over Morocco from 1912 to 1956, after which Anfa “became one of the most emblematic districts of Casablanca due to its rich and fascinating history, its colonial and Art Deco architecture, its green spaces and the presence of the Royal Golf Anfa Mohammedia, as well as the royal residence,” he said.

The largest city in Morocco, Casablanca is the country’s economic and business capital, but the peaceful residential streets of Anfa offer respite from the hustle and bustle of big city life. The neighbourhood is set between the beachfront and the modern city centre and is known for its historic sites, its hundred-year-old racetrack and its nine-hole golf course. Together with the neighbourhoods of Racine and Gauthier, Anfa forms part of Casablanca’s “Golden Triangle,” offering a mixture of historic and modern homes, primarily villas set amid lush, spacious gardens.

Boundaries

The Anfa neighbourhood runs from the ocean to a small inland hill. It is bounded to the north by the Atlantic Ocean and to the east it extends as far as the city’s railway line and Avenue 2 Mars. To the south, it is bounded by Boulevard Al Qods, and to the west it encompasses the newly developed Casablanca Finance City, extending along the coastline as far as Madame Choual beach.

Price Range

Luxury properties in Anfa range in price from 17,000 Moroccan dirhams (US$1,705) per square meter to 35,000 dirhams per square meter, said Vanessa Bouskila, sales manager at Kensington Luxury Properties Casablanca. The larger the property, the lower the price per square meter, she added. Prices are primarily determined by the property’s location and its views, she said, with seafront properties commanding a premium.

“The most expensive villa currently on the market is listed at US$80 million,” she said, adding that the trophy properties in the neighbourhood were built by famous architects, such as the private Anfa villa designed by French icon Jean Nouvel or the circular Villa Camembert, which was designed in 1962 by German architect Wolfgang Ewerth. Properties with a famous former inhabitant are also in high demand, she said, citing Villa Bolloré, formerly owned by French industrialist Vincent Bolloré.

Housing Stock

Anfa offers a diverse selection of luxury residences, “a combination of old French colonial buildings, traditional Moroccan villas and new modern constructions on large plots of land, most of which have swimming pools,” Leon said. The neighbourhood is also famous for its experimental Art Deco and modernist villas, designed by prominent Moroccan and international architects.

Anfa is divided into four sections, according to Leon. The most exclusive and sought-after residential district is Anfa Supérieur.

Most of the neighborhood’s new homes have swimming pools.
Courtesy of Kensington Luxury Properties

“Located on a hill near the golf course, the royal residence and the homes of Moroccan notables, it is the most popular area and properties for resale are very rare and therefore very expensive,” he said. The district offers very high levels of privacy and security, he added. “There are no nearby commercial amenities. The area is only residential and isolated from the city. You will not find a single traffic light there.”

Another popular residential area is Anfa Inférieur, “a privileged district at the foot of the hill, delimited by Boulevard André Masset and Boulevard Kennedy,” he said. The neighbourhood also encompasses Anfa Raha, an extension of Anfa which was integrated around 15 years ago and offers properties with particularly large areas of land, starting at 2,000 square meters.

Residents who prefer a more modern milieu are most likely to be drawn to the former site of the city’s old airport, which has been reimagined as a business district called Casablanca Finance City, offering high-end contemporary apartments.

What Makes It Unique

With its easy access to both the seafront and the city centre, Anfa is ideally placed.

“The sea and the corniche with its attractions are a few hundred meters away on foot,” Bouskila said.

Anfa’s Arab League Park is centrally located.
Hans Lucas/AFP via Getty Images

Alongside its uniquely leafy and calm residential streets—where residents can often be seen out for a jog—the neighbourhood offers plenty of green space, including the more than 100-acre Anfa Park, located in Casablanca Finance City, and the centrally located Arab League Park, with its stately row of fountains. The historic Hippodrome Casablanca Anfa was built in 1912, and horses still race along its sandy track.

Historic landmarks include El Hank Lighthouse, which offers spectacular views of the city and sea, Hassan II Mosque, one of the largest in Africa, with space to host over 100,000 worshippers, Mohammed V Square—affectionately known as Pigeon Square in honour of its abundance of the birds—and Casablanca Cathedral, which was built in 1930 and today serves as a cultural centre hosting art exhibitions and events.

Luxury Amenities

“Anfa borders the Atlantic Ocean and the numerous restaurants and private clubs of the Corniche,” Leon said. “On the city side, multiple ultra-modern private medical clinics have been established, which attract local and international patients.” The area also offers some of the city’s finest luxury shopping opportunities, with a wide range of upmarket international brands available in Morocco Mall and the Anfaplace Mall.

“The most popular sport is golf,” Bouskila said. Royal Golf Anfa Mohammedia is popular not only for its rolling greens but also for its restaurant and bar, where club members meet in the evenings, she added.

Who Lives There

With its opulent homes, a high level of security and an emphasis on privacy, Anfa is most popular with business people and politicians, Bouskila said. Over the years, it has served as a meeting point for influential decision makers.

Hassan II Mosque is one of the largest in Africa.
Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

“The neighbourhood’s history is marked by major international meetings, most notably in 1943 when Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and the French generals Henri Giraud and Charles de Gaulle outlined the Allied strategy for the post-World War II era,” Leon said.

Notable Residents

Current notable residents include former Minister of Industry, Trade and New Technologies Moulay Hafid Elalamy and his family; President of the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises Chakib Laalej; and Steve O’Hana, president of the Morocco-Israel business council, according to Bouskila.

Outlook

Anfa has long commanded high prices thanks to its exclusivity, but in recent years the cost of homes in the historic neighborhood has soared.

“Since the Covid-19 pandemic, prices have increased—they have never been so high,” Bouskila said. Strong demand for the limited housing stock in Anfa ensures that prices remain elevated in comparison with other areas of the city.

“Luxury products behave the same way around the world,” she said. “Crisis does not impact the price of a Hermès bag or a Ferrari.”



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The two Australian states where it’s a buyers’ market

Property values have experienced strong growth around the country, but there are two highly desirable areas where oversupply is putting downward pressure on sales

By Bronwyn Allen
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While property values are rising strongly in most markets across Australia, it’s a vastly different story in Victoria and Tasmania, new data from CoreLogic shows. Over the 12 months to May 31, the median house price lifted just 1.8 percent in Melbourne and fell 0.6 percent in regional Victoria. The median dipped 0.1 percent in Hobart and ticked 0.4 percent higher in regional Tasmania. This is in stark contrast to Perth, where values are up 22 percent, and regional Western Australia, up 14.8 percent; as well as Brisbane, up 16.3 percent, and regional Queensland, up 11.8 percent.

CoreLogic Head of Research, Eliza Owen says an oversupply of homes for sale has weakened prices in Victoria and Tasmania, creating buyers’ markets.

On the supply side, there has been more of a build-up in new listings than usual across Victoria, even where home value performance has been relatively soft,” Ms Owen said. Victoria has also had more dwellings completed than any other state and territory in the past 10 years, keeping a lid on price growth. The additional choice in stock means vendors have to bring down their price expectations, and that brings values down.”

Melbourne dwelling values are now four percent below their record high and Hobart dwelling values are 11.5 percent below their record high. Both records were set more than two years ago in March 2022. The oversupply has also affected how long it takes to sell a property. The median days on market is currently 36 in Melbourne and 45 in Hobart compared to a combined capitals median of 27. It takes 55 days to sell in regional Victoria and 64 days in regional Tasmania compared to a combined regional median of 42 days.

Changes in population patterns have also contributed to higher numbers of homes for sale in recent years. Since COVID began in early 2020, thousands of families have left Melbourne because working from home meant they could buy a bigger property in more affordable areas. While many relocated to regional Victoria, a significant proportion left the state altogether, with South-East Queensland a favoured destination. Meantime, Tasmania’s surge in interstate migration during FY21 was short-lived. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows the island state has recorded a net loss of residents to other states and territories every quarter since June 2022.

Record overseas migration has more than offset interstate migration losses, thereby keeping Victoria’s and Tasmania’s populations growing. However, the impact of migrants on housing is largely seen in the rental market, so this segment of population gain has done little to support values. Growth in weekly rents has been far stronger than growth in home values over the past year, with rents up 9 percent in Melbourne and 4.8 percent in regional Victoria, and up 1 percent in Hobart and 2.7 percent in regional Tasmania.

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