Harbour Arch development on hold

An artist impression of what Harbour Arch will look like once completed.

Housing activists Ndifuna Ukwazi have objected to the Amdec Group’s
R10 billion rand development, Harbour Arch.

Construction of what will arguably be the biggest development on the Foreshore, was set to start in the first quarter of 2019, but has not yet begun.

The development will be built on the corner of Christiaan Barnard and Heerengracht streets, and is expected to take five to 10 years to be completed.

Modelled on Johannesburg’s Melrose Arch, also developed
by the Amdec Group, the
Harbour Arch will be based on
the same model of an open “complex” which the developers described as a “live, work, play” environment.

Once complete, Harbour Arch will comprise six towers above a pedestrian walkway which will run throughout the precinct.

Called Central Park and situated on the eighth floor, the interlinked podium level will be tenanted by restaurants, coffee shops, cocktail bars, gyms, as well as retail and lifestyle outlets.

There will also be street level motor dealerships, retail space, boutique office space, upmarket residential apartments, and two Marriott branded hotels.

The initial development phase will comprise 432 apartments, two motor dealerships, retail, leisure, and commercial office space. In addition to a residents-only pool, exercise area, and terrace, all located on the 17th floor, the building will also feature a roof garden and viewing deck on the 24th floor; fibre to the home, waste recycling, water-saving facilities and rainwater harvesting; a centralised district cooling plant; low-energy LED lighting and extensive parking.

Whentheprojectwas announced in 2017, Ndifuna Ukwazi condemned the building, saying that Harbour Arch would be another “exclusive enclave catering for the super wealthy, who are mostly white” (“Mixed reaction to R10bn complex”, CapeTowner, October 26, 2017).

In a statement, the organisation said Amdec intends to use the rights to build the first phase of the Harbour Arch development, a large mixed use development precinct on Erf 178316, which is roughly 5.3ha in extent. Once complete, the proposed development will use 198 000m2 of approved development rights. In comparison, this is almost four times the size of the Portside building on Buitengracht Street which is currently the tallest building in the CBD.

“On all accounts, this is a colossus of a building. It’s location near the N1 and N2 at the gateway of the city, coupled with its substantial size, means that it will have a significant impact on the shape and future of the city.

“The Harbour Arch development is unashamedly exclusive and will entrench racial and class divisions that continue to suffocate Cape Town. The cheapest unit in Harbour Arch (a studio) will only be accessible to 5% of Cape Town’s population.”

The statement further says that developments like these entrench Cape Town’s position as one of the most unequal and racially divided cities in South Africa and the world.

“It is clear from Amdec’s development application that they feel entitled to use their property for whatever ends and dismiss and reject the obligation of the City of Cape Town to transform and redress spatial injustice.”

The Amdec group declined to comment, saying they will only do so after it has reviewed the objections.

Meanwhile, the City said they were still collating all of the comments regarding the development that were received, and thereafter an assessment would be done. The closing date for comments was on Monday May 13.

The mayoral committee member for transport, Felicity Purchase, said the original development application was approved in 2012. “The current application is to amend and delete various conditions of the 2012 approval. The application has not been assessed as yet and is currently still in the notification process, so, no timeline can be provided.”

Malusi Booi, mayoral committee member for human settlements, said an inclusionary housing policy is in the process of being developed. “Background feasibility work and other analysis is being done, after which a draft policy will be compiled for public comment. Key stakeholders are being consulted throughout the policy development process.”

He said the City’s first transitional housing site in Pickwick Street, Salt River, which was recently completed, will form part of a greater plan to unlock more than 2 000 affordable and social housing opportunities near the city centre.

“Going forward, the City will continue to assess City-owned land, including in and near the Cape Town CBD among others, to determine whether some of these properties could be developed for housing opportunities – be it for transitional-, affordable-, social housing, or state-subsidised Breaking New Ground housing.”

The City said they are also planning on implementing solutions that will assist to alleviate traffic congestion in the Foreshore freeway area. More information will be made available once the details have been finalised.