Development at the V&A Waterfront has shifted into high gear with construction under way at 14 sites around the property, says chief executive David Green.
All developments, either in progress or in the pipeline, form part of the Waterfront’s 15-year expansion plan and 400 000m2 of the available 600 000m2 have been allocated for various projects.
But Green said this apparent development boom was also in response to the slow pace of development before 2006. The previous owners, Dubai World, completed projects but did not initiate many new ones, he said.
“So there’s a bit of catching up to do.”
Now jointly owned by Growthpoint Properties and the Government Employees Pension Fund, represented by the Public Investment Corporation, the revitalisation of the Waterfront to create a place where people can work, live and play is firmly on the agenda.
Upcoming projects include a R43 million investment in the upgrading of the Two Oceans Aquarium, the completion of Pick n Pay’s flagship store, the mixed-use development of the Silo Precinct and the Gateway Precinct near the entrance.
More people had been walking around the site and on to the city centre since the 2010 World Cup, Green said. Plans included the development of corridors, at sites such as Portswood Road, to create seamless pedestrian connections with the city centre and Green Point.
Green said the demand for office space at the Waterfront had strengthened as the inner city was deemed to be ageing: “We want to be the first choice for international companies (looking for offices).”
Work is under way on a mixed-use development at the historic Grain Silo site. The Silo 1 building, home to the Allan Gray headquarters, is already complete. It is one of the most advanced sustainable buildings in the country. It uses seawater to cool the building and has a double-glazed glass façade to let in natural light and keep out heat. Silo 2 is a residential development with 31 units.
The Granger Bay Precinct plan is expected to develop in phases over the next 10 years. A draft scoping report outlining the possible reclamation of land to protect the vulnerable coastline and provide 2.5 hectares of land for development, has already been released for public comment.
Green said this project would require an extensive environmental assessment and work was unlikely to begin within the next five years.
The Waterfront would retain ownership of about 270 rental flats at the Portswood building. These would be more affordable than the high-end flats at the Marina, and would provide a new source of revenue for the Waterfront.
But it’s not just about buildings. Green said the Waterfront “activated spaces” by creating opportunities for buskers, pop-up shops and other attractions. Despite the recent acceleration in development, the premise was still to create an accessible entertainment area that respected the harbour’s unique architecture as well as the importance of the fishing industry.
“There are not many places in the world where you can watch a waterfront at work. It’s gritty, but its real.” - The Argus