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Thursday Apr 10, 2014

Construction to start on 'new city to rival Sandton'

The construction of a 'new city to rival Sandton' in northeastern Johannesburg kicks off early next year with Shanghai Zendai Property's R84 billion development of the Modderfontein property it bought from AECI.

It will include the building of schools, a university and a contemporary African art gallery.

An artist's impression of Shanghai Zendai Property's planned R84bn 'new city' in north-eastern Johannesburg.

Dai Zhikang, the founder of Shanghai Zendai Investments, said the group planned to build a 'new city' over the next 15 years that would focus on the retail and residential sectors.

The development will house about 100 000 people, focused mainly on international residents, the local middle class and pensioners.

The housing complex and schools form part of Modderfontein's nine functional zones, which include services ranging from a central business district to an international conference and exhibition centre.

About R3bn has been committed to develop infrastructure over the next three years, and a Gautrain station is planned for the next four to five years.

'Our vision that the new city will become a unique landmark that will transform Modderfontein into an international cosmopolitan asset with a cultural and art element,' Dai said.

Another artist's impression of the proposed developent.

About 50 000 jobs would be created and 1 000 firms were expected to become tenants on completion. An application for the area to be declared an economic development zone had been lodged with authorities.

Chinese banks have made funding available to the project, and the group aims to approach local financial institutions for further funding.

The Gauteng government has endorsed the plan, with Premier Nomvula Mokonyane suggesting that it would benefit neighbouring residents in Alexandria and Tembisa townships.

She noted that Chinese investors would comply with regulations, and locals would be consulted on the development later this week.

  • Gauteng premier sings praises of China's Zendai

    Shanghai Zendai Property, which plans to build a new city in Modderfontein, Johannesburg, has learnt its lesson after its luxury apartment complex in Luanda, Angola went wrong. The upmarket flats are standing empty because locals cannot afford them.

    Zendai will build homes for the middle class, a retirement village and a complex for international residents as part of its R84 billion development in north-eastern Johannesburg over the next 15 years. This follows thorough research of the South African market.

    Zendai purchased the Modderfontein property from chemical and explosives company AECI for R1bn in November. AECI tested its explosives on the 1 600 hectare property until the advancement of explosives technology made it redundant.

    At the stakeholders' briefing on the development yesterday in Modderfontein, it was interesting to see how Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane and MEC for Economic Development Mxolisi Xayiya sang the praises of Zendai.

    Mokonyane said the government was rallying behind Zendai simply because the project would eventually improve the lives of children from the neighbouring Alexandra and Tembisa townships, who were living in poverty.

    She has called for locals to give Zendai a break from the negative misconceptions of Chinese investors.

    However, all stakeholders would still have a responsibility to keep Zendai or any foreign investors in check.

    'We are excited about the project. It is not all about job creation, but extending ownership of property and business to black people who were previously marginalised,' Mokonyane said.

    Mokonyane will consult with Alexandra residents and is expected to speak to them on Friday. She said since the sale, no jobs had been lost on the property.

    The company has committed to creating 50 000 jobs in the next 15 years. This is a significant number and will certainly help to ease the high unemployment rate in South Africa.

    Business Report

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