Chartered waters for V&A Waterfront
Cape Town’s iconic harbour hub is a dynamic landscape rooted in and around a natural working dock. Its rich history is interwoven into a phenomenally successful commercial, retail, residential and tourist destination.
With more than 24 million visitors annually, Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront is one of the most visited sites in Africa — in peak season, foot traffic nudges up to 100 000 daily. By global standards this mixed-use destination is an extraordinary success story, thanks to its operational model from day one, starting by appealing to Capetonians and retaining a sense of authenticity by repurposing historical buildings and incorporating the harbour.
‘Development at the V&A is market-led in response to a demand for commercial offices and urban residential space with harbour and mountain views,’ says David Green, V&A Waterfront CEO. The V&A not only responds to but also reinvents itself as community, country and global needs shift.
An example of this fresh perspective: the R50 million Watershed development, completed in 2015 and replacing the Blue Shed Craft Market and Wellness Centre. It also incorporated the Workshop17 space and Red Shed tenants. The Watershed was designed to move away from tourist souvenirs and curios, instead focusing on iconic African craft and design, with small business development a priority. With more than 1 500m2 of trading space, the Watershed’s tenant product-offering focuses on the best artisans and designers.
The historic Silo District is the V&A Waterfront’s current area of short-term development focus. Complete are No 1 Silo occupied by Allan Gray and No 2 Silo’s 31 sectional-title residential units. There are four current developments of more than 35 000m2 in progress: No 3 Silo’s 78 sectional-title residential units, No 4 Silo’s Virgin Active Classic Club – and in No 5 Silo, a multi-tenanted commercial development including new corporate offices for PricewaterhouseCoopers and Werksmans Attorneys. No 6 Silo is destined to be a new-concept Radisson RED mid-range hotel, with more than 1 050 additional parking bays. It’s expected that about 2 500 people will work at the Silo District every day.
At the heart of the Silo District, the extraordinary Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Mocaa) promises to be one of the world’s top art museums. To be housed in the reinvented historic grain silo circa 1921, it is due for completion in 2017. The not-for-profit museum is a partnership between Jochen Zeitz – who has committed his art collection in perpetuity – and the V&A, which is funding the R500 million redevelopment and gifting the use of the building at no cost. Spanning more than 9 500m2, it will be spread over nine floors, of which 6 000m2 is dedicated to exhibition space. The cherry on the top, literally, will be 5 500m2 of The Silo, an exclusive 28-key hotel to be managed and operated by The Royal Portfolio. A new central pedestrian plaza, Silo Square, will surround Mocaa.
The final phase of the V&A Waterfront’s Silo District is on track to be completed in early 2017 with a R1.5 billion investment, bringing the total investment by V&A Waterfront shareholders to more than R2.5 billion.
Corporates and cruises
In close proximity to the Silo District, the Cape Town Cruise Terminal is also undergoing redevelopment. The V&A Waterfront won the initial two-year redevelopment contract and considers the terminal as an extension of their footprint. The vision will include scaling retail up or down in response to demand, with a completion date of December 2017.
Forming the gateway to the V&A, centred on Dock Road and the Roggebaai Canal district, will be the new mixed-use, commercial office-dominated Canal District, with a R700 million investment in phase one. A corporate head office for British American Tobacco (BAT) SA is the first project. Totalling 75 000m², the district straddles both sides of Dock Road. The building currently named Amsterdam House is divided into two, with BAT’s offices occupying 8 000m² in the south wing. Completion of this building and car park is expected in November 2016. The district includes a new urban park, incorporating the remnants of the historical Amsterdam Battery.
The V&A Waterfront was originally granted development rights of some 600 000m2, of which about 140 000m2 remains available for new project developments. The V&A’s in-house development department is responsible for the expansion of the existing portfolio. The company retains ownership of all properties within the precinct, overseeing as landlord post-completion. There are 169 commercial tenants, plus multi-tenanted buildings such as 7 West Quay, 19 Dock Road, the Clock Tower and Granger Bay Court. Tenancy agreements and deals are structured differently between a multi-tenanted commercial building such as Granger Bay Court and a sole tenancy such as Allan Gray. Current commercial rentals range between R170m2 and R220m2 depending on the building.
The past few years at the V&A have not been static – new districts emerge with each phase of the V&A’s expansion. With that in mind, in 2015 a document was compiled around the naming of districts and buildings, the rationale being that each district has is own identity without losing its place as part of the V&A Waterfront. The 11 districts are Granger Bay, Pierhead, Quays, Portswood Ridge, Dry Dock, Marina, Clock Tower, Silo, South Arm, Dockside and Canal.
The first V&A Waterfront-owned residential rental accommodation complex began with Ports Edge on Portswood Ridge, 109 units varying from 30m2 to 100m2. Its success fast-tracked the four-storey The Breakwater, with 150 apartments of 30m2 to 120m2. ‘We want to attract long-lease tenants with a desire to live in the V&A Waterfront all year round,’ says Green.
They’ve achieved just that. At Breakwater, rentals for a studio range from R7 020 to R10 260, a one-bed fetches between R9 720 and R20 520, and a two-bed from R18 360 to R32 400. At Ports Edge, rentals range from R7 100 for a studio, tenants pay R10 250 to R15 650 for a one-bed, and R27 000 for a two-bed.
And the V&A’s long-term focus? Granger Bay. It is estimated that this phase will be unveiled within the next five years. Meanwhile a recently released independent economic impact study on the V&A Waterfront shows how the positive reach of the area extends beyond its boundaries into the City, province and national economy, contributing an estimated R33.4 billion of GDP in 2014. The projected nominal contribution to GDP from future V&A Waterfront developments is R28 billion by 2027.
Since 2012, the V&A has implemented a state-of-the-art fibre optic network for both tenants and residents. To date they have supplied and installed more than 20km throughout the precinct. In all developments, the V&A Waterfront strives for green construction and sustainable design practices.
Footprint of the V&A Waterfront
Spread over a 123ha site, the V&A Waterfront includes 10 hotels, more than 450 retailers, 80 different restaurants and eateries, and 69 commercial tenants. It stretches from City Lodge Hotel Victoria & Alfred near Buitengracht Road on its southern border, along Dock Road, to its northern boundary at Grand Cafe & Beach in the Granger Bay district. In the middle, Dock Road snakes around a marina, The One&Only Cape Town and residential developments. It incorporates the aquarium, leisure attractions, indoor markets and the V&A’s retail heart. Extending west, the development backs onto Helen Suzman Boulevard with UCT’s Graduate School of Business. Eastward it wraps around historic harbour workings along South Arm Road to Shimmy Beach Club. E-berth, home of the Cape Town Cruise Terminal, will be managed by the V&A for an initial two-year period.
Who owns the V&A?
The V&A Waterfront was developed in 1988 by the state-owned corporation Transnet Limited and currently, is jointly owned by Growthpoint Properties Limited and the Government Employees Pension Fund, represented by the Public Investment Corporation (Pic) Limited.
V&A Waterfront in numbers
• 123ha Current footprint
• 24m Visitors in 2014
• 23% International visitors
• 63% Local visitors
• >R800m Victoria Wharf’s retail sales December 2015
• 181 Small business tenants by end of 2014 financial year
• Nearly 20 000 Estimated people employed in 2014
• R33.4bn Contribution to GDP in 2014
Living the Waterfront life
Basil Moraitis, Pam Golding Properties area manager for Atlantic Seaboard and City Bowl, on V&A Waterfront residential sales:
Previously the area was regarded as a pure investment vehicle, but there has been a shift to buyers acquiring accommodation for permanent residence, coupled with sound investment potential over the medium to long term. The V&A Waterfront is the biggest individual ratepayer in the City of Cape Town.
The average selling price of V&A Waterfront apartments (this excludes the Granger Bay area) increased to R10.496 million for transfers registered during the first six months of 2015. This compares to a 2014 average of R7.459 million.
Historically, sectional title average prices (there is no freehold) peaked at R7.25 million in 2009, before reaching a low of R4.959 million in 2013. Prices have since accelerated sharply.
In terms of units sold, there were 54 sales in 2008, decreasing to a low of 15 sales in 2011. Sales rebounded strongly in 2013 to 41, stabilising at 36 sales in 2014 and about 35 sales last year. The V&A’s sought-after residential status has been further boosted by the development of the cruise terminal.
Text Anne Schauffer
Photographs Heatherwick Studio, supplied