16 February 2007
The British- and Dubai-led consortium that bought Cape Town’s landmark Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront for US$1-billion has indicated that it will spend at least a further $1-billion on the development of “Africa’s Riviera” ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
The V&A Waterfront, a world-class mixed-use development near the heart of Cape Town’s central business district, attracts up to 22-million visitors a year. Set against a backdrop of sea and mountain views, its mixes shopping and entertainment venues with offices, luxury hotels and exclusive apartments in a residential marina.
In September, Istithmar, the private equity arm of government-owned Dubai World, partnered with UK-based London and Regional Properties and a local black empowerment grouping in a successful bid to buy the Waterfront.
Only 45% of the 603 000 square metre property has been developed, and the consortium immediately announced plans to drive the further development of the V&A Waterfront as “a world-leading shopping, leisure, business and luxury waterfront destination”.
London and Regional Properties director Richard Livingston said in a statement following the sale that the most important thing the V&A Waterfront offered the consortium was “opportunity”.
“It sits in a magnificent location with significant allowable development, giving us the chance to create a truly world-class resort, which can be a focal point for the Fifa World Cup 2010,” Livingston said.
“The existing waterfront development consistently attracts a high volume of tourists annually, and our proposed enhancement of this exceptionally unique location will further the growth of Cape Town as a leading lifestyle destination.”
James Wilson, CEO of Nakheel Hotels and Resorts – an Istithmar subsidiary company appointed, along with London and Regional, to manage the development – confirmed the link with the 2010 World Cup, saying in the same statement that they aimed to ensure that the Waterfront “links seamlessly” both to the central business district and the new stadium to be built for 2010.
In a recent interview with Engineering News, Wilson said that Dubai World would spend at least $1-billion on developing the Waterfront ahead of the World Cup, and was considering the part funding and construction of a new boulevard between the Waterfront and the still-to-be-built Green Point Stadium.
According to Engineering News, potential new developments at the V&A include a new yacht club and further marina development, a cruise ship terminal, a train station and improved connections to Cape Town International Airport.
The consortium is also looking to build a number of new hotels, including a 250-bedroom luxury hotel and a resort hotel. “We have already had every top-ten hotel group in the world approach us over opportunities at the V&A,” Wilson told Engineering News.
Other investment possibilities
In a separate interview with Business Day during a conference in Cape Town in November, Wilson said that Dubai World was looking at possible investments in a number of other sectors in South Africa.
He said Dubai World disagreed with the high risk rating assigned to SA by international raging agencies. “There is a crime issue [in South Africa],” he said, “but employment will solve that.”
South Africa, he told Business Day, had a sophisticated economy backed by a sound legal system and a banking system comparable to that of the US or UK. It also boasted some of the best tourism assets in the world – and offered excellent returns on investment.
“The costs of entry are lower here than in the rest of the world,” Wilson said. “With the price of entry being low, obviously the investment return is higher for us.”