Many would say that Cape Town already is regarded as a world class city. However, the Western Cape province and the City of Cape Town, in association with the Cape Town Partnership,  believe that there is more work to be done to turn Cape Town into one of the top cities in the world, and to rezone the city into “mixed-use-zones that are lively, inviting, open and operate 24 hours a day” by 2014/2015, reports the Weekend Argus.

Driven by the MEC for Public Works and Transport, Robin Carlisle, Cape Town is to be divided into six ‘precincts’:

*   the Artscape precinct will connect Artscape with the new to-be-extended Cape Town International Convention Centre, to be doubled in size, to operate 24 hours a day, and to be completed by 2014, via the Artscape Gardens, to be developed as part of the extension.  The Gardens are to be raised to the height of the freeway, and parking developed beneath it.  Two buildings, one an hotel and another an office block with 30000 square meters of retail space, will be designed to act as ‘wind buffers’ against the south-easter, which affects the area close to the harbour badly.   The Artscape Gardens is planned to contain an amphitheatre seating 25000 visitors.  The Convention Centre expansion will include the proposed move of the Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital to the precinct too. 

*   the Somerset precinct plans have not been finalised, but include the Somerset Hospital, a part of the building having historical value.  A new casino is planned for this area, an attractive location for it, being adjacent to the V&A Waterfront.   One of the options is that the Gold Reef’s Mykonos Langebaan casino may move to this precinct.  This area is also planned for mixed-use zoning.

*   the Prestwich precinct will see high-rise buildings and another pedestrian bridge and Fan Mile, to ‘allow the city and the Waterfront to better complement each other’, and connecting these two popular areas.  Prestwich Street runs parallel to Somerset Road, and is the street in which The Foundry/Beluga can be found. 

*   the provincial government precinct around Dorp, Wale and Keerom Streets will see glass walls erected to block the wind from blowing through the arches of the provincial building.  A new high-rise building is to be built on the corner of Loop and Leeuwen Streets, to accommodate the office requirements of government departments.

*   the Government Garage precinct in the Roeland/Hope/Mill Streets area is to get a facelift, with retail, residential and urban spaces to be developed.   Entry-level housing is to be developed, to allow residents to work and live in the city without having to use cars to get to work.  “This precinct will focus on turning Roeland Street into a ‘boulevard’ leading down to the gates of Parliament, with shops and cafés at street level, and accommodation on the first floor, built around squares.  The Government Garage and ambulance depot are to be moved to the ex-abattoir in Maitland.

*   the Two Rivers Urban Park, including Oude Molen, Alexandra, Valkenberg and other government property, will focus on medical facilities, including the expansion of psychiatric hospital Valkenberg, an office park for ‘bio-medical engineering companies’, ‘compact hospitals at Alexandra’, and will expand the residential arm of Oude Molen.   A ‘water taxi’ is to connect Oude Molen and Athlone via the Black River.

Linked to the province’s bold city regeneration plans is the planned development of a second international airport near Saldanha Bay.  It is also planned to introduce ’130 new, quieter and graffiti-repellent trains, which could comfortably transport 550000 people a day…’.

The plans for the regeneration of the Cape Town city center sound exciting, and will lead other businesses to invest in the city centre.  For example, the section of Bree Street near Buitensingel Street is seeing a revival, with interesting restaurants and decor shops opening. One hopes that the DA will win the municipal election in May, so that these grand plans can be realised.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage