Mixed reaction to R10bn complex

A R10 billion mixed-use development is on the cards for the Foreshore.

A major new mixed-use development, which, once completed, will probably be the biggest on the Foreshore, was announced last week.

The R10 billion 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.

The first phase of the project, however, is anticipated to be complete by 2018. The announcement was made last Thursday by the Amdec Group, the developers of Harbour Arch, with Mayor Patricia de Lille, Wesgro CEO Tim Harris, and a number of other officials.

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.

The CEO of the Amdec group, James Wilson, said: “Cape Town is the place to be. It is good value for money. Many people are interested in Cape Town. It’s really becoming a destination that is globally recognised.”

Harbour Arch, once complete, 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, 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.

Mayor Patricia de Lille said the development came at an exciting time.

“We want to build a 24-hour city, and in order to do this, we need to bring more people to the city. This development will do just that.”

She said the development would also bring much needed jobs.

“The City of Cape Town welcomes any form of job creation. This development will create 2 500 construction jobs.

“Meanwhile, the two Marriott branded hotels will secure approximately 350 permanent jobs, with additional opportunities in the various retail spaces.”

Head of development at Amdec Group, Nicholas Stopforth said, “New urban architecture has become a global phenomenon – where you live, work, play, relax, and stay in a safe, convenient, sustainable and community-focused environment.

“As with Melrose Arch, we are using international best practice to design these new urban spaces that will redefine city living.”

Asked about incorporating affordable housing, Mr Wilson said: “The property was always zoned commercial, so we are not taking any housing away, we are just adding some property.”

He also referred to the 15 sites the City had recently released for inner city housing.

Meanwhile, social housing activist group Ndifuna Ukwazi condemned the development, saying that Harbour Arch would be another “exclusive enclave catering for the super wealthy, who are mostly white”. “What Amdec is proposing is utterly shameful and unacceptable. The city is in the grip of a housing crisis… Hundreds of thousands of poor and working-class families are still living in shacks and backyards. Tenants across well-located areas are being evicted and displaced.

“We can no longer tolerate these wealthy enclaves. It is unthinkable and immoral, that in 2017, a development proposal like this would even be considered without including a large proportion of decent affordable housing,” the group said in a statement.

In response to Mr Wilson’s statement about social housing, the group said: “Mr Wilson cannot simply build what he wants. Any land-use application must advance spatial justice.

“The fact is, to build this, he requires rezoning. Currently, he does not have the rights to develop what he wants to develop. He must request those rights and it is the City’s obligation when granting these rights to ensure affordable housing is included.

“Mr Wilson is attempting to deflect from the injustice of this building. “The fact that the City is building some housing does not mitigate the fact that this development is totally unaffordable for the majority and will be an exclusive, mostly white enclave that is intolerable and untenable. Each new development must provide access to poor and working-class; black and coloured people in this city.”

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