MORE than 100 years after Pretoria’s first sports fields were built in Arcadia, new life has been brought to the area with the official opening of Loftus Park.
The bright new mixed-use precinct adjacent to Loftus Versfeld stadium, has in its R1.45 billion phase one, offices, parking, restaurants and shops, hotel and Virgin Active gym all situated around a piazza with a “pool of light” water feature.
In the centre of the sunny piazza is an open air performance venue as well as an historic building housing Vovo Telo restaurant. This is the restored historic clubhouse which served the the city’s first organised sports events held at what was in the early 1900s known as the Eastern Sports Grounds.
The first concrete structure at the grounds, later renamed after Loftus Versfeld who organised the sports, went up in 1923, with the clubhouse built in 1929. The pavilions were constructed in the 1970s and 80s. Loftus underwent major renovations ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup when it was an official venue for six matches.
Some may remember the old clubhouse building from the days of the Loftus tennis courts and bowling greens while diehard rugby fans knew it as the infamous Sinbin pub, packed before and after Blue Bulls games. The building was protected by heritage legislation so the developers sought permission to dismantle and rebuild it on site.
Loftus Park is set to be popular with rugby and soccer fans attending games at the stadium, but it is also there to serve the community as a whole, adding a convenient lifestyle destination in the busy precinct with its schools, university, embassies, offices and residences.
The core component of Loftus Park, a joint development of Redefine Properties and Abland Property Developers, is more than 15 000m² of Green Star office space in the first phase, grocery and high-end shopping and service stores, and a Protea Hotel by Marriott with conference facilities.
Benefits of the precinct include modern security, integrated connectivity, green “pause” areas and easy access to major roads and the Gautrain. In collaboration with the University of Pretoria, Loftus Park will showcase local visual and performing arts.
Thinus Delport, a director at Abland, said at the opening that development had included a R50 million investment in upgrading public infrastructure and future phases (two and three) included a plan for a hospital.
Throughout there had been broad consultation including with the local community, the university, schools such as Pretoria High School for Girls, and the City of Tshwane.
Mayor Solly Msimanga praised those who had the vision to turn the iconic landmark of Loftus into such a development. He said now was a good time to invest in the city, and urged property developers to work together to build a capital one could be proud of, and which was prosperous.
Marc Wainer, the executive chairman of Redefine Properties, and Barend van Graan, CEO of the Bulls were among those at the launch to welcome the development.
The public event to celebrate the opening of Loftus Park is today (fri) and tomorrow (sat), with performances scheduled by Prime Circle, Wonderboom and local schools.