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Monday Mar 01, 2010

Cape Town's R20bn facelift

Cape Town is set to change dramatically according to a multi-billion urban regeneration plan to presented to the City's mayoral committee this week.

The project to revamp inner-city areas is worth at least R20 billion and would create about 500 000 jobs during the construction phase alone.

The plan includes:

# Sinking the railway lines between Cape Town and Salt River into tunnels so that the land above can be developed.

# Provision of housing for government and parliamentary officials, which in turn would allow the parliamentary village at Acacia Park to be upgraded and put to new use;

# Creating four distinct precincts.

# Providing cycling lanes and extra parking.

The plan, the brainchild of the railways' property arm, Intersite, has already attracted the support of Mansoor Mohamed, director of the City of Cape Town's department of economic, social development and tourism.

He said: "I am recommending to the council that this urban regeneration project be treated as a strategic project. I am very excited about it because there are a lot of economic, entrepreneurial and innovative opportunities with this plan."

Intersite, which said it had based its proposal for Cape Town on the same urban-regeneration model followed by Barcelona, has asked the city to award special status to the project and to facilitate the acquisition of rights.

Provided the city and Intersite's board approves the plan to construct a mixture of residential and commercial property on around three million square metres of land between Salt River and the city centre, it will go ahead in the next two years.

The development will include upmarket flats, museums, cinemas, art galleries, a health and lifestyle centre, tennis and squash courts, parliamentary loft apartments, daycare facilities, boutique hotels and informal trading space.

Between 10 and 15 percent of the land will be used for housing.

The plan is for a mixed-use precinct with economic innovation at its core, fast and efficient transport and a substantial contribution to the central city's housing stock.

The project will be divided into four "neighbourhoods" - in Salt River, Woodstock, the Foreshore and the Castle-Grand Parade area.

Intersite is the property division of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa.

Intersite's CEO, Cromet Molepo, said the first step was to get the city's approval before they presented it to their board and the Treasury, with a technical feasibility plan at the end of March.

Molepo was reluctant to put a figure to the project, but said R20bn would be a conservative figure.

"This is going to be a substantial project and we need the city on board before we present our board with a technical feasibility plan. We need Mayco to delegate resources and be clear about our zoning rights so we can start working together on this.

"The development is going to be dictated by supply and demand and will require public and private partnerships, so the Intersite board and the national Treasury must be involved," Molepo said.

Intersite is completing a R400 million upgrade of Cape Town Station, due to be completed by May.

Molepo said they were planning major urban regeneration projects for Joburg and Pretoria as well, but Cape Town had been earmarked to go first since the company was upgrading the station.

The urban-regeneration project is expected to take place over the next 10 to 30 years.

Molepo said a number of private-sector companies had already indicated interest in setting up head offices within the new development as this would benefit staff who used trains to get to work.

Vusi Nondo, former Western Cape chairman of the SA Property Owners Association and current fund manager for Old Mutual's Real Estate Fund said: "I have not seen anything like this and it is by far the biggest urban regeneration project in South Africa and even Africa.

"If it is approved it will be tremendous and will change the face of Cape Town."

Weekend Argus


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