Consortium to spend billions on Waterfront

Posted On Friday, 27 October 2006 02:00 Published by
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THE London & Dubai Property Consortium, which acquired the Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront in a landmark property transaction worth more than R7bn last month, plans to invest $1bn - $2bn in developing the site over the next few years.

THE London & Dubai Property Consortium, which acquired the Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront in a landmark property transaction worth more than R7bn last month, plans to invest $1bn - $2bn in developing the site over the next few years.

The consortium includes UK property giant London & Regional Properties; Dubai World, one of the investment arms of the Dubai government; and local empowerment partners. It has almost completed a development master plan for the developable land at the V&A site and will roll out several hotels, a marina and a yacht club, among other developments.

James Wilson, CEO of Nakheel Hotels & Resorts, a Dubai World company, said yesterday that 55% of the 600000m² of developable land available at the V&A had been used, which left 45% for mixed-use development.

Wilson delivered an address at the fourth annual property investment conference hosted by commercial property association Sapoa and Investment Property Databank at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. After delivering the address he said that four or five new four- and five-star resort hotels were planned for the V&A, as well as a six-star hotel. “Dubai is based on the concept of, you build things, people will come. We are going to be building resort hotels for families and kids,” he said.

But Wilson said more flights from Dubai to Cape Town were needed. He said travelling to Cape Town was “very inconvenient” as visitors had to first take a seven-to-eight-hour flight to Johannesburg and then travel for several more hours before reaching Cape Town. Wilson said that more landing rights were needed at Cape Town International Airport.

He said that airlines from the United Arab Emirates — including Dubai — were “keen to fly direct to Cape Town”. “We have expressed our concerns to the provincial government. The most successful tourist destinations in the world have an open skies policy and tourism can solve a lot of unemployment problems in this country because it’s a huge job creator,” said Wilson.

He said the V&A had 800 direct employees, and another 9000 people who worked in its shops and restaurants. Wilson said that, potentially, 30000-40000 direct and indirect jobs could be created through further development at the Waterfront. He said the consortium wanted to develop a major marina and a yacht club at the V&A while “respecting the integrity of the existing harbour”. Wilson said the fishermen and the existing working harbour were “big selling points” for the V&A and that they wanted to create a fish market for the local fishermen.

“There is nothing better than the theatre of a fish market.” Other plans include the development of a “cruise terminal” somewhere within the V&A. “We get 50 cruise liners a year (in Cape Town) and one of the challenges would be getting the QEII (cruise liner) into the Waterfront. “It (the QEII) gets into the main harbour, but it’s too large for the Waterfront,” said Wilson. He said the developers also wanted to create a mixed-use development along the lines of Johannesburg’s Melrose Arch at the entrance to the waterfront

This would include offices and loft apartments. Wilson said they would also connect Cape Town’s central business district to the Waterfront. He said the regenerated central business district needed a better connection to the waterfront. “We want a more efficient pedestrian connection between the city and the waterfront. We want people from all parts of the city to be able to walk pleasantly to the Waterfront.” Wilson said that the consortium was looking at the 2010 Soccer World Cup as a “key target” for the completion of some of the development.  “But there is only so much you can build in three to four years.”

Wilson quashed rumours that the consortium’s Dubai representatives had bought out London & Regional’s interest in the consortium. “London & Regional are the consortium leaders and we have no intention to buy in their stake, and they don’t have any intention to sell.

“There is no truth in the rumour.”


Publisher: Business Day
Source: Nick Wilson

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