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River Club development takes shape

WITH the first major high-rise blocks visibly nearing completion – windows installed on all levels and cranes and pile-driving machines now operating on a neighbouring piece of land, signalling the beginnings of another major building to be constructed – CBN requested a progress report on the River Club development in Cape Town.

The R4,3-billion development, being built in Observatory by Liesbeek Leisure Property Trust (LPPT), will have e-commerce giant Amazon as its anchor tenant on the 15 ha plot. Who the other tenants will be has yet to be revealed.

A legal battle to halt construction of the development ended in a settlement with the City of Cape Town earlier this year.

Asked for a construction update, Tracè Venter, the chief operations officer at public relations firm Resolve Communications (who are handling the development’s PR), provided an update across a number of areas in the development. Venter said construction work is well under way on the site.

“On Phase One, the developer work has been completed, with tenant internal fit in progress. Occupation is expected in the third quarter of 2024,” she said. “Due to confidentiality and the Promotion of Access to Information Act (POPIA), LLPT cannot share any information on prospective tenants and their plans for the development.”

“Phase two, the development of a retail shopping centre along with further corporate offices for blue chip tenants, is under construction and is expected to open December 2024,” she added. 

 “The residential component: including inclusionary housing units will be launched at the end of 2023.

“The Heritage Centre: construction will commence in January 2024 with the building plans currently with the City of Cape Town for approval. The plans were finalised following ongoing consultation with, and inputs received, from the Western Cape First Nations Collective (WCFNC) and a specialist architect recommended by the WCFNC. Leaders of the WCFNC are currently on a roadshow visiting First Nations groups who are members of the Collective (including leaders of the San and Bushman in the Northern Cape and Namibia) to update them on the development and plans.”

In terms of the gardens and ecological corridor, Venter said that over 1 million plants are currently under propagation with planting and landscaping expected to start in the upcoming drier seasons.

In terms of infrastructure: “Work on roads, water and electricity infrastructure is also well under way including the completion of a power substation with all sewerage works expected to be completed by September 2023. The new road and bridge linking Berkley Road in Ndabeni to Liesbeek Parkway will be completed in July/August 2024

Asked to elaborate on the residential component, Venter provided background on the current affordable housing policies governing the development and the plans for the residential units.

“The development is subject to agreed City of Cape Town Zoning conditions on Affordable housing.”

In terms of these conditions, at least 20% of the residential floor space should be set aside for affordable housing, as defined in the MSDF applicable at the time of submission of the building plans containing affordable housing residential units. 

The affordable housing component will be integrated with and constructed simultaneously with the open-market residential component. The scale of the total residential floor space is approx. 31 900 m² and as such that the residential units will be accommodated in one or more buildings which will be developed in stages. 

“The intention is to sectionalize the buildings in this Precinct into a mixed use scheme with residential, offices and retail buildings (to be built in phases). The Affordable dwelling units will be incorporated into the sectional scheme. Buildings Plans are almost completed with the intention to submit the 1st phase plans in September/October 2023 to the council for approval

“The phasing will be determined by the demand for the open-market units. The developer is going to the market in the last quarter of this year to determine market demand (pre-sales). Once pre sales targets are met, construction will proceed after building plan approval.”

Venter said that, at this stage it is projected that between 500 to 600 units will be developed. “As a result, approximately 100 to 120 units will be allocated as affordable dwelling units – based on the 80:20 ratio. The maximum rental per month for the Affordable Units will therefore not exceed R 8 160 p.m. (30% of R27 200) at 2023 pricing levels and will be annually adjusted.

“The affordable dwelling units will be let to any person who falls within the Affordable Housing target group definition. Preference will be given to qualifying tenants who are employed by any of the businesses within the development. Given the proximity to the Valkenburg, Groote Schuur and Vincent Palotti Hospitals, as well as the many schools and universities nearby, it would also be ideal accommodation for qualifying health care and education workers and support staff.”

Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town has welcomed the development of the property, saying it will hold huge heritage, environmental, economic, infrastructural and other benefits to Cape Town and its residents.

 The City has said, the benefits the development would bring include:

  • The rehabilitation of a portion of the Liesbeek River
  • The creation of a high-quality green open space
  • The establishment of heritage infrastructure in partnership with First Nations groups
  • The creation of 5,200 construction jobs and approximately 19,000 employment opportunities
  • The establishment of further public transport infrastructure
  • An R4.5-billion direct investment injection into the local economy; and
  • The delivery of new residential accommodation, including affordable housing
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