Cape Town -
More than R4 billion is being invested in developments at Century City, just 12km from the city centre, which when finished will bring the capital value of projects in the precinct to R21bn.
“This is investment in brand new bricks and mortar construction,” says John Chapman, a director of the Rabie Property Group, which has been responsible for much of the development.
The mega project includes a R1bn mixed-use development, called The Square, that will include a 900-seat conference centre, a 125-bedroomed hotel, residential units, an office block with ground floor restaurant, and a parking garage.
“This is the largest development undertaken to date by the Rabie Property Group at Century City, and brings to more than R21bn the value of development which has taken place in the 250ha of mixed-use precinct since the first sods were turned in 1997.”
Work is under way between the Colosseum building and the Ysterplaat side of Century City to create what will be the largest “green building” precinct in South Africa.
In years to come, Ratanga Junction theme park will make way for additional development. Two of the rides have already been retired to make way for The Square.
Planning for the rest of the Ratanga site is still in its infancy, says the Rabie Group, and Ratanga Junction will stay open for about four years.
Less than 20 years ago, the vacant land was covered in alien vegetation. Today, it is a sprawling “mini city” where many of its tenants can live, work and play in one precinct.
Cranes criss-cross the view of Table Mountain, with the construction of several buildings and commercial and office blocks well under way for completion by the end of 2015.
When Rabie became involved at Century City, about 80 percent of the site, initially known as “sewe pannetjies”, or seven pans, was undeveloped. Now there are more than 500 businesses and 3 000 residential units with about 50 000 people living and working in the area, says Chapman.
When fully developed, Century City will comprise 1.25 million square metres of bulk – of which just over 1 million has been built or is imminent.
“So there is still some way to go and, as with development to date, the rollout of the balance of the rights will be driven by market demand.”
Chapman says Century City has withstood the economic recession to reflect a relatively low office vacancy rate of six percent. Demand for residential space has shown no sign of abating and the rental demand “strongly” outstrips supply.
The City of Cape Town allows Century City to put in services as needed and R130m is being invested in new infrastructure for projects already under way, or in the pipeline.
This includes the construction of R45m worth of roads and canals in the Bridgeways precinct and an R18m upgrade of Sable Road.
Chapman says connectivity is a key drawcard for many tenants and R16m has been spent on the rollout of Century City Connect, an open-access fibre optic network. Public transport to the precinct is convenient with rail, taxi and bus services. The MyCiTi bus service was extended to Century City last year and a further R36m will be spent shortly on a trunk terminus. Chapman says at least 8 000 people cross the bridge daily from the Century City station to work or shop.
He says several commercial developments are under way or imminent. These include the Bridge Park office development, a joint venture with Growthpoint, which cost R375m, the new head office for Chevron, which will cost about R200m to build to international standards, and a R120m sectional-title development called Grosvenor Square. The R250m Canal Plaza, on the water’s edge, will offer 11 000 square metres of prime offices.
About R110m is being spent on a day hospital and three office buildings for Central Park, while two additional office blocks are being built in The Estuaries at a cost of R42m.
Aurecon will expand its footprint with a R70m office block, while Canal Walk recently undertook a R45m expansion with additional retail expansion on the drawing board.
The Oasis Luxury Retirement Resort’s third block of apartments, Palm Royale, is almost complete. The R270m project will provide an extra 58 units. More work is planned for Oasis, and another block with 45 units, costing R220m, will be launched before the end of the year.
Mayfair, another mixed-use development, will be launched within six months.
Recently completed commercial developments include a business centre and Phillip Morris offices, each developed at a cost of R85m, six office blocks in Park Lane at a total of R83m, sectional-title offices for R82m and an office block in The Estuaries for Old Mutual Private Wealth.
The Century City Property Owners’ Association (CCPOA) functions as a “mini municipality” and is responsible for the day-to-day management of the entire Century City precinct. Tenants pay a levy, which is used for security, cleansing and other services.
CCPOA chairman Chris Blackshaw says the safe and secure environment, well-maintained landscape and accessibility makes Century City a popular attraction for businesses and families.
In 1995 the site “lacked soul”, but now there is a palpable sense of community, he says.
The new developments are improving the value of the investments of existing property owners.
Although developing into a thriving mini city, Century City should not be seen as competition to other business nodes, such as the central city or the Waterfront. Rather, it is a complementary hub that will contribute to a better city as a whole.