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Cape Town means business with urban regeneration project

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The city of Cape Town and the provincial government of the Western Cape’s announcement of the R 4.5 Billion urban regeneration and convention center expansion couldn’t have come at a better time.

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The city of Cape Town and the provincial government of the Western Cape’s announcement of the R 4.5 Billion urban regeneration and convention center expansion couldn’t have come at a better time. Not only will the expansion project unlock construction and development opportunities in the precinct, it will also have a multiplier effect on the economy, bringing much-needed regeneration to an area of the city that has been dormant for many years. The comprehensive redevelopment of the foreshore will go a long way to integrate the use of public spaces in one of the most picturesque and historically-significant parts of the city. The city’s current disconnect from the harbor, and the separation of public spaces on the foreshore especially, can be transformed through visionary urban planning and development.

The timing in terms of Cape Town’s brand positioning as a city beyond “beauty,” upon which we have become over-reliant, is good. Cape Town’s brand position must encompass business, study, and our contemporary, gritty and creative urbanism, among other things, in addition to simply leisure and beauty, which adds to our significant seasonality problem. The submission of Cape Town’s 2014 Design Capital bid and the announcement of the urban regeneration and convention center expansion are perfectly aligned.

The expansion of the CTICC will happen eastwards, not incorporating Customs House, as per previous suggestions and plans. The extension of the Convention Centre will include 10,000 square meters of retail space, a new Netcare Chris Barnard Memorial hospital, an office tower, numerous basement parking bays, as well as the regeneration of Founder’s Garden by the Province, which will connect the Artscape precinct with the new, larger CTICC. This reconnect is especially exciting news as the redevelopment will see a business, arts, and culture precinct on our foreshore, encouraging public engagement with these spaces – something dearly needed in that part of the city.

The CTICC is one of the major success stories of Cape Town. At yesterday’s launch of the redevelopment, Alderman Felicity Purchase, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Development and Tourism said: “When the CTICC was originally envisaged back in the 1990s, there was considerable scepticism about its success. That scepticism has proved unwarranted and the center has exceeded all expectations. CTICC has far outperformed expectations becoming a profit center in its own right. Both operating and capital costs are being recovered; it has paid rates and never needed any further funding from Council after the original investment. More importantly though is the finding by UCT Graduate School of Business through which the CTICC has created 3,076 direct and 4,004 indirect skilled and semi-skilled jobs. It is a wonderful example of a successful partnership between business and government.”

Cape Town leads the way in terms of urban regeneration. It is the only city on the African continent that has seen, and is continuing to see, a comprehensive and holistic regeneration of its inner city. The proposed expansion of the CTICC and other urban regeneration projects planned for the Central Business District is set to boost Cape Town’s reputation as a globally-competitive, multi-faceted destination and contribute to economic growth through driving job creation in the city and the province as a whole. It is our mission to position Cape Town as one of the top cities to live, work, study, invest, and visit. This redevelopment will enhance Cape Town’s liveability, workability, and walkability – encouraging 24-hour utilization of public spaces and buildings and linking the IRT public transport system directly with the new convention center and the arts and culture precinct around the Artscape Theatre Complex.

The expansion will contribute to the creation of more than 8,000 jobs annually by 2018, enhancing the economic spinoff of the center.

A recent feasibility report by economists from the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business that measured the possible impact of the expansion, revealed that the convention center’s contribution to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to increase from R 2.3 billion currently to over R 5.1 billion per annum. It is expected that during the construction phase, more than 1,000 direct indirect jobs will be created during 2011–2014 and more than 246 employment opportunities linked to the construction industry will be created.

The regeneration of cities internationally is key to transform urban spaces into nimble, diverse, technologically advanced, socially connected, and economically inclusive areas that provides a hospitable and inspiring place for citizens and visitors alike.

We applaud the city and province who has clearly indicated that the expansion and regeneration project is at the core of their economic development strategies. The CTICC is already the leading convention center in Africa, presently ranked 35th in the world. Cape Town is the leading convention and meetings destination on the African continent with almost every second meeting or convention hosted in the “Mother City.”

The project will commence soon and is expected to be completed at the end of 2014.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.