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
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.