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Tuesday Nov 16, 2010

R28 billion Garden Route property development on hold

The global recession has forced a multi-billion-rand project for George, which was launched a year ago, to be put on hold.

Although the world economy is beginning to recover, the R28 billion Destiny Africa Ecosphere project, punted as being likely to transform the Garden Route town into a global business and eco-tourism destination over the next 20 years, stalled because of a lack of investors.

However, Fred Brown, an executive director of Destiny Africa, was optimistic. "There are positive signs and construction could start in the next 18 months. The project is still on - we want a mix of foreign and local investors."

The project will consist of a world-class conferencing hub, a business park and resort, a hotel, a university aimed at the arts, medical and biosphere tourism, and residential developments. In all, 2.5 million square metres have been approved for a project that developers say will take 15 to 20 years to complete.

When the project was launched last year, the developer said an estimated 50 000 direct and indirect jobs would be created. A "smart city" of this size could be found in high-growth economies such as Singapore and China.

But some George residents fear there is not enough water, especially as it is in the grip of the worst drought in 130 years.

Brown said the design was "green", and would feature sloping roofs to catch rainwater, and dams to capture the run-off, along with purification of "grey" water.

Alan Winde, the provincial Finance, Economic Development and Tourism MEC, said: "The SA property market has been depressed for over a year, leading to the scaling back of developments across the board.

"The effect of this on the Destiny Africa Ecosphere project is regrettable, but, as the market improves, which is likely within the next year-and-a-half, this project will no doubt attract renewed attention from local and international investors.

"Property ownership in the province is still viable, more so than other provinces because of its higher value."

Cape Argus


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