Urban outfitters and developments
With businesses, creative communities and property developers all taking cognisance of a global trend towards a renaissance of inner-city living, we’re seeing exciting developments cropping up in South Africa’s major cities. And the investors who are putting their money behind their belief that this trajectory will keep on going, are setting an example for others to follow.
‘With re-urbanisation comes new business and campus locations, and innovation districts, and the redevelopment of old industrial locations into corporate and enterprise hubs’ – Emily Moir and Greg Clark, The Business of Cities, Foresight Future of Cities Project
Case Study | National Bank House
In a smart move that has set it apart from its competitors, the Red & Yellow School of Logic and Magic recently opened a new campus in Simmonds Street in Johannesburg, in the iconic heritage building known as National Bank House (the entrance is in Albertina Sisulu Street). The historic site is owned by Urban Ocean, a contemporary property developer with a purpose: to enrich South Africa’s cities by reinventing the culture of true inner-city living and working.
‘What’s exciting about this new campus is that Red & Yellow made a conscious decision to place its school in the CBD in support of inner-city revival, and to ensure that it’s representative of and accessible to Johannesburg’s people,’ says Lyndi Lawson-Smith, head of the campus. The school has a track record of supporting urban regeneration: its relocation a year ago to Durham Avenue in Salt River, Cape Town, added new energy to the area.
‘The school hopes to help attract creative industry back to Joburg central and is making a bold statement about its position as a truly world-class, Africa-focused school in a cosmopolitan city. Situated on a major transport route, the campus immerses students in a vibrant and fast-paced urban environment where they will be equipped to work in today’s creative economy,’ Lyndi says.
And future growth plans? A new campus is set to open in Lagos in 2016 and another in Nairobi in 2017/2018 as part of a strategic global partnership that intends to transform the industry in a meaningful way. Johannesburg, the economic heart of Africa, couldn’t be a better place to start.
Case Study | Triangle House
Signatura Development’s R1-billion luxury development of Triangle House – the former Safmarine building – into the Radisson Blu Hotel and Residence is a huge vote of confidence for downtown Cape Town. And if public response is anything to go by, it was on the money when earmarking this area as the next big thing – the majority of the apartments are already sold.
The brainchild of veteran developer John Rabie and property owner Shaun Rai, the project will comprise 12 hotel floors and 11 floors of luxury executive apartments, with one penthouse floor. With access to all the amenities of the hotel below it, from the restaurants and the bar to room service, the apartments offer a unique lifestyle right at the epicentre of inner-city life.
Signatura’s vision for this building includes viewing it as part of the surrounding area rather than as a separate entity. Chosen for its potential to engender a more community-oriented lifestyle, there are plans to open up the ground floor to give the building better street interaction.
David Cohen from Signatura cites the location and amenities as the Radisson’s two biggest strengths. ‘People want to live in the city – we’re answering that need, he says. ‘We’re hoping to catalyse a move by other businesses into the area, to create a knock-on effect that will effectually change the area.’ He applauds the CCID for its work cleaning up the area and showing people its potential.
Case Study | Hallmark House
Propertuity CEO Jonathan Liebmann launched Hallmark House with visionary ‘starchitect’ David Adjaye after meeting him at the opening of the Museum of African Design in Joburg. Jonathan led him outside, pointed at the building and said, ‘That’s my magnum opus and I’d like to work with you.’ Hallmark is being rebuilt as an inclusive residential and hotel space with a focus on high-level living – a first for Maboneng. The post-modernist 1970s structure will be transformed into a luxury mixed-use building that’s responsive to its community but also to ‘the more fluid approach to the way we inhabit cities,’ says David.
Reaching skywards, the plant-covered, glass-panelled tower will have 201 apartments, 92 of which will be boutique hotel rooms and 109 residential (now 75 per cent sold). It offers the opportunity to live a ‘curated’ and layered lifestyle – the building will feature an array of eateries including the Grand Café (its first Joburg branch).
‘This is my first big project in southern Africa and it’s really the vision Jonathan has for the potential of the city that I find stimulating,’ David says. ‘I think the building will give a lot of people a double take – they’ll look at it and think it’s in some other city and then they’ll realise that it’s in Johannesburg, in Africa. I really believe in this project – I’m going to live there.’
‘Twenty per cent of our buyers are foreign investors,’ says Jonathan. Like David, they believe that Joburg has ‘some of the most incredible real estate in Africa’. The refurbishment of the building will be completed in mid-2016.
‘In the latest cycles of globalisation, businesses are focusing on cities and city dwellers more than ever as a means of enhancing their growth and profitability. Cities are emerging as the key market for business…The importance of short travel times between work and childcare is encouraging inner-city living. Individual preferences have changed from favouring working environments in attractive “green” areas to those in amenity hubs, where restaurants, bars, coffee shops and public-transport links are all within easy reach. The net effect is that companies see re-urbanisation as the key to recruitment … of employees who are clustered in city centres’
– Emily Moir and Greg Clark, The Business of Cities, Foresight Future of Cities Project
Did you know?
If you’re planning on investing, here’s a snapshot of stats taken from The State of Cape Town Central City Report 2014 by the CCID,
- 91.3% of residents report being very happy living in the CBD, up from 87.9% in 2013.
- Rental vs ownership: 43% rent, 47% own (10% own but let out to tenants).
- Who lives here? 30% Cape Town locals; 12% from elsewhere in the Western Cape; 44% from elsewhere in South Africa; 14% from international destinations.
- 66% of residents live within 3km of their work or school. 80% said they walk, 63% own a car and drive, 37% take the MyCiTi bus, 17% use a bike, 3% use a skateboard.
- Lifestyle? 84% visit a coffee shop and 68% eat at a restaurant at least once a week. Residents have asked for more restaurants, and deli-type food stores, and longer retail hours.
- Red & Yellow: redandyellow.co.za
- Urban Ocean: urbanocean.com
- Signatura: signatura.biz
- Propertuity: propertuity.co.za
- David Adjaye Associates: adjaye.com
- Cape Town City CCID: capetowncid.co.za
Text: Michelle Snaddon and Julia Freemantle
Photographs: Adam Letch, Museum Africa and supplied