Cape Quarter 'extension' opens

09 Nov 2009

The Cape Quarter "extension", a 50,000sqm lifestyle development comprising retail space, offices, 14 luxury apartments, a gym, health spa and parking, was officially launched in the trendy De Waterkant area of Green Point, Cape Town, on Saturday 7 November 2009.

The new development – to be known as "Cape Quarter, The Square", distinguishing it from the original Cape Quarter centre, which will henceforth be known as "Cape Quarter, The Piazza" – spans an entire block, with its frontage on Somerset Road, Green Point's main thoroughfare, and Dixon, Jarvis and Napier Streets forming its other borders. The Jarvis Street precinct, which is cobbled and landscaped, serves as a link between the two Cape Quarter buildings.

In constructing the new development, at a cost of about R400m, partners Ross Stegmann, Bob Knight and Paul Moxley have striven to create a unique environment that will appeal both to "city-livers" in this historic part of the city and tourists who want to visit the places that local people frequent. The partners have created the Cape Quarter brand under the auspices of their property investment company Propfin Trust.

While the interior of the new building has sleek, modern lines, the company's design team, working in conjunction with external consultants, have incorporated the facades of historic buildings, such as the former On Broadway Theatre and Glassfit premises, which originally stood on the site, into the architectural design. On Somerset Road the exterior of the development relates to the existing streetscape, suggesting individual buildings as opposed to one monolithic block, while the back of the building reflects the character of the De Waterkant area onto which it faces.

Some of the walls of the original industrial buildings and warehouses, some more than 180 years old, have been retained as part of the internal structure of the development. Much of the original building material, including wood, trusses and steel, has also been salvaged and reused to add character.

In the gourmet Spar at the Somerset Road entrance, for example, the ceiling features exposed wooden beams reclaimed from the historic buildings, and in the bakery section a plastered wall has been taken back to the natural stone, revealing an attractive original wall arch that has been retained.

"The Spar is a combination of the historic and very modern. We've put granite on the floor, installed modern lighting, and used lots of stainless steel and glass, but we've also tried to preserve the character of the old building which stood there, for example, by using a special white mortar in the walls we have built to blend in with the appearance of the old walls."

The attention to detail in designing the building can be seen in features such as the "bridge" made of recycled materials, which is mounted above the Somerset Road exit, Art Deco lintels, sash windows, and raw brickwork. Stegmann says that an upstairs section, which has not yet been opened, will feature a walkway through some of the original buildings.

The design of the new building is also linked to that of the original Cape Quarter through features such the wrought-iron balustrades, which have been individually designed and made by a blacksmith, and shop fronts and planters.

Stegmann says his company bought the block of properties that stood on the site about a year after completing the original Cape Quarter development in 2002, with the intention of creating a "boutique environment that offers a different shopping experience."

After three years of planning and going through the lengthy process of obtaining permission from the relevant authorities, the company started demolition in June 2007 and completed the excavation in February 2008. The building now stands six levels above the ground on Somerset Road, and four levels above ground from Jarvis Street, following the pitch of the site which rises towards the back, with retail space on the lower levels and 780 parking bays provided underground.

At the heart of the 10,000sqm of retail space is a European-style square, which is surrounded by restaurants and shops, and has an entertainment podium. The atrium area has a retractable roof structure to protect it in inclement weather. An attractive feature of the building is that the atrium, roof garden at the top level and the open sky are all visible when looking up from street level at the Somerset Road entrance.

The retail section shows a creative use of light and space. "Enhancing the area has been at the core of all design decisions, and we're under bulk in terms of the building," says Stegmann.

"While it costs from a developmental point of view because you have space you can't rent out, it's important to get the balance and the feel right."

The anchor tenant is the gourmet Spar, which occupies 1,600sqm of space. "The only store that is part of a chain is the Spar food store, and it is unlike any other Spar," he says. "The other tenants consist of individual, independent retailers and restaurants whose characters fit into the building."

The upmarket boutique stores focus on décor, design, furniture and fashion, and are grouped together in the appropriate areas. In addition, there are 12 restaurants, including coffee shops and winebars, a liquor store, a boutique gym, a health spa, as well as art, curio, and health and beauty stores.

The development also has 8,700sqm of office space. Accounting firm Deloitte has relocated its head office there, taking a lease on 5,000sqm of space.

In addition, 14 fully-serviced, luxury apartments have been built on the top floor to serve as short-term lets for business executives or holidaymakers who want accommodation just minutes away from the city centre, V&A Waterfront and the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Cape Quarter Living, as this section has been named, is administered by African Elite Properties.

This section, which is screened off for privacy, comprises 10 one-bedroom, three two-beds and one three-bed apartments. Furnished in chic, contemporary style, complete with mod cons such as flat screen TVs, each apartment is self-contained, and includes a kitchen. The layouts are open-plan, with elegant timber sliding screens to provide privacy.

Full-height glazed doors and private balconies maximise the views of Table Mountain, Signal Hill and the harbour which can be seen from every unit. The apartments lead out onto a communal roof garden, where a swimming pool, putting green, and little boule area have been provided.

Stegmann says that in constructing Cape Quarter, The Square, he and his partners have been passionate about implementing their vision, while taking the village environment into account. He believes that by bringing "classy retail" into the area, property values in De Waterkant will be enhanced. – Impti du Toit

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