Cape Town - Capetonians are often scoffed at by the rest of South Africa for being a rather laid-back bunch. However, we're starting to think this is probably just a ruse to cover up the fact that the Mother City is undergoing a major face lift.
If the CBD's developments in the pipeline are anything to go by, Cape Town is set to become even more of a world class destination in the next couple of years.
Future Cape Town has been keeping tabs on a range of projects happening around the peninsula (and there really are many), making sure that locals and visitors are in the loop, especially as these sorts of multi-million Rand developments may go hand-in-hand with road closures and construction activities that could affect travel around the city.
So, if you've noticed a hustle and bustle happening around the CBD, it could well be one of the following five exciting new additions to the Mother City's landscape in the making:
A spunky new hotel
(Dexter Moren Associates)
Remember the Tulip Hotel? You know, the 'worst hotel in Cape Town' that was recently imploded and demolished? Located on the corner of Strand and Bree Street, the derelict landmark had taken up prime location, which the City decided could be used more efficiently.
Well, recent reports suggest that the site will soon give rise to a 500-room Tsogo Sun hotel complex, which will cost about R680m to build. The complex will comprise two sections - a 200-room SunSquare hotel and then a 300-room StayEasy hotel - which will each include conference facilities, shops, parking and dining areas.
Construction is set to start in May this year, with the aim of completion by September 2017.
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Welcoming cruise terminal
(Future Cape Town)
Cruise liners entering the Mother City are currently only allowed to dock at the distant, rather unattractive and highly industrial-looking E- and J-berths at Duncan Dock in the Port of Cape Town.
However, the Port Gateway Precinct plan, a brand new overhaul plan for the V&A Waterfront area, promises the construction a dedicated cruise terminal at the E-berth. The terminal is set to include arrival and departure facilities, and will allow much easier access to tourist attractions around the city.
The addition of a dedicated terminal will boost cruise tourism to the city, which currently brings more than 10 000 visitors to the province each year and generates an estimated R200m for the local economy.
World class train station
After a R126m upgrade, Cape Town station's parade concourse will reopen to commuters in only a few months' time. The refurbished section will feature state-of-the-art design and technology, including one-way escalators, ticket offices at both ends and speed gates. Hong Kong's central railway station served as a major design inspiration.
Apart from this, the upgrade of the concourse also has historical significance, as it was originally built in 1966 to serve as the 'non-white' entrance to the station. In many ways, upgrading this section of the station is reclaiming a painful part of the past and turning it into something beautiful to be shared by all.
Good Hope Centre as film studio
In the past decade or two, Cape Town has really exploded as a major film production destination. During summer months, the CBD, the beaches, the promenade, the mountain... even the tiniest little backstreets are taken over by cameras and crews, who flock to the city for the beautiful scenery and, of course, the relatively low costs.
So, it really comes as no surprise that the tortoise-shaped landmark could be converted into a film studio come July 2015. The City of Cape Town announced in a release earlier this year that the they were hoping to use the Good Hope Centre as a temporary or short-term film studio for three years, with a single tenant or combination of tenants from the film industry.
The decision to consider alternative uses stems from the fact that the repair cost for the facility is approximately R16 million. The land value is estimated at R145 million.
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Unfinished highway could become urban park
Cape Town's famous unfinished highway has long been an eyesore and a bit of a headache for the city. What to do with it?
The City of Cape Town recently allowed the CTICC to build a ramp and parking lot at one end, but long term plans for the removal/refurbishment could be decided by the end of the year.
One of the most exciting prospects is a proposal by postgraduate students from the UCT School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics. The Foreshore [Re] Action plan sees the two ends of the unfinished highway being linked by an urban park. According to the proposal, the “concrete jungle will be transformed into an organic, vibrant foreshore, where nature intertwines with concrete, that promotes the environmental sustainability initiatives of future Cape Town.”
Whether something like this could actually happen, remains to be seen, but we're all for more urban parks and recreation areas!