Qual­ity of life key to suc­cess of Cen­tury City

Growth at mixed-use de­vel­op­ment in Cape Town ac­cel­er­ates to new lev­els, writes Anna-marie Smith

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GROWTH at large-scale de­vel­op­ments na­tion­ally, is fol­low­ing de­mand for se­cure ur­ban liv­ing. In­creased mo­men­tum dur­ing dif­fer­ent mar­ket con­di­tions at mixed-use de­vel­op­ments high­lights the com­plex work­ings of di­verse in­vest­ment over long pe­ri­ods. It il­lus­trates the fine tun­ing of re­duced risk, the re­sult of re­ly­ing on more than one mar­ket sec­tor, as well as dif­fer­ent prop­erty cy­cles.

This de­spite per­ceived in­creased risk at the other end of the scale, when dif­fer­ent types of properties are in­te­grated.

Typ­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics of suc­cess­ful mixed-use de­vel­op­ments glob­ally, are cen­tral lo­ca­tions of­fer­ing leisure, re­tail, work and res­i­den­tial so­lu­tions.

Ex­am­ples are seen at Cen­tury City, al­though off to a slow start in 1997, large-scale de­vel­op­ment by the Ra­bie Prop­erty Group has con­tin­ued at a marked pace ever since. De­mand for so­phis­ti­cated ur­ban liv­ing at vary­ing lev­els is seen both at Mel­rose Arch in Jo­han­nes­burg and at the V&A Wa­ter­front in Cape Town, where the in­te­gra­tion of skilled town plan­ning, zon­ing, de­vel­op­ment and prop­erty man­age­ment is most ev­i­dent.

Ra­bie Prop­erty Group di­rec­tor, John Chap­man says de­vel­op­ment mo­men­tum at Cen­tury City con­tin­ued through the down­turn of the past five years, with the precinct con­tin­u­ing to out­per­form all other res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial prop­erty nodes in the Western Cape. He says there was a grow­ing cross pol­li­na­tion be­tween the res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial com­po­nents of Cen­tury City.

“They feed each other. As more busi­nesses are at­tracted to Cen­tury City, more peo­ple are look­ing to move here ei­ther buy­ing or rent­ing and many liv­ing here have tended to seek work op­por­tu­ni­ties within the precinct closer to their homes.” Chap­man said.

Fea­tur­ing many sim­i­lar­i­ties to its US name­sake in Los An­ge­les, the “city within the city” com­prises a 250ha mixed-use de­velop- ment, cur­rently hous­ing an es­ti­mated 55,000 peo­ple who live and or work there.

As the city grows, so do the chal­lenges for the Cen­tury City Prop­erty Own­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion, where ac­cel­er­a­tion of sup­port ser­vices is al­low­ing growth to a mini-mu­nic­i­pal­ity, through co­op­er­a­tion be­tween stake hold­ers, res­i­dents as­so­ci­a­tions and bod­ies cor­po­rate.

Chris Black­shaw, CEO of Cen­tury City Prop­erty Own­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion says the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of both the com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial ad­dresses is due to a num­ber of fac­tors.

“Firstly, there are the en­vi­able life­style ben­e­fits of liv­ing in an en­vi­ron­ment where ev­ery con­ceiv­able amenity is right on your doorstep or at least in easy walk­ing dis­tance.” Black­shaw says qual­ity of life and con­ve­nience un­doubt­edly play a ma­jor role to peo­ple who live and work here, through a well-planned in­te­grated mix of busi­ness, re­tail, recre­ation and en­ter­tain­ment fa­cil­i­ties. In ad­di­tion, he says, its prime loca- tion and ac­ces­si­bil­ity are im­por­tant — it is al­most equidis­tant from north­ern and south­ern sub­urbs, the At­lantic seaboard, the CBD, the West Coast sub­urbs and Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Wide-rang­ing mar­ket choices are avail­able at nine precincts, where more than 3,000 res­i­den­tial front doors range from stu­dio apart­ments, to su­per lux­ury pent­house apart­ments and free-stand- ing homes, with prices rang­ing from just un­der R1m to about R15m. Ra­bie Prop­erty Group has re­cently sold out its three most re­cent res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ments – Crys­tal Tow­ers Res­i­dences, com­pris­ing 90 lux­ury apart­ments, and Quay­side and Quay North com­pris­ing 63 and 28 apart­ments re­spec­tively. Ten­ants, res­i­dents and vis­i­tors all en­joy ac­cess to ameni­ties rang­ing from trans­port, re­tail, en­ter­tain­ment, and recre­ation at the Cen­tral Park, Cen­tral City Club House, Canal Walk Shop­ping Cen­tre, Vir­gin Ac­tive Gym, five ho­tels, and a num­ber of schools.

Black­shaw says ex­po­nen­tial growth of Cen­tury City’s com­mer­cial com­po­nent shows growth in of­fice space to have tripled in the past eight years. To­tal of­fice de­vel­op­ment rights at Cen­tury of ap­prox­i­mately 700,000m² puts it on a par with the Cape Town CBD. Of­fice rental area built to date mea­sures 250,000m², with a fur­ther 81,000m², show­ing va­can­cies at a his­toric low of 2.9% de­spite new space com­ing on­line.

In ad­di­tion is ac­cess to pub­lic trans­port he says, see­ing ex­pan­sion with the Cen­tury City rail­way sta­tion, des­ig­nated bus lanes and planned Bus Rapid Trans­port Sys­tem to in­te­grate bus and taxi routes, serv­ing Cen­tury City’s two model Pub­lic Trans­port In­ter­changes.

Tak­ing pride of place in the over­all de­vel­op­ment is the city’s pro­vi­sion of a “green lung” at In­taka Is­land, a haven for bird and na­ture lovers. Lo­cated on 8ha of eco­log­i­cally sen­si­tive land, are eco­log­i­cally sen­si­tive sea­sonal pans, among the last re­main­ing of their kind, where eight re­con­structed wet­land ar­eas now pro­duce clean wa­ter in the 8km of nav­i­ga­ble canals.

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