The R 9,7 billion V&A Waterfront sale, the largest property transaction in South Africa, by Dubai World to its new local owners Growthpoint and the Public Investment Corportration, has been signed and sealed, and work has already commenced on a R500 million construction project at the Clock Tower, reports the Cape Times.

The Clocktower area of the Waterfront does not attract as many visitors as other sections, as it is further away from the shopping malls, and is not immediately visible to tourists.  Users of the Robben Island ferry and workers in office developments close by are the main users of the shops in this section.  In a four-year project, the new owners of the Waterfront are converting some of the retail space into office space, to create a ‘professional business district’, paying attention to the heritage value of the Clocktower.

A new head office for Allan Gray is also being developed in the Clocktower precinct.  Further developments include the silo building adjacent to the Clocktower precinct, and the collier jetty alongside the Clock Tower retail centre, reports the Cape Argus.  A further R4 billion is to be spent in the next ten years to develop a further 220000 square meters of Waterfront land. No announcement has been made about any further hotel developments for the immediate future, which is good news, given the current over-supply of accommodation in Cape Town.

The V&A Waterfront has become a benchmark waterfront development for many similar projects around the world.  However, one hopes that the new owners will spare a few Rand for the improvement of visible security, and fixing its parking pay machines, which are constantly out of order!

POSTSCRIPT 27/6: The V&A Waterfront will also focus on how it can better be integrated with the city of Cape Town.  “One of the concerns of many Capetonians is that the Waterfront has disjointed itself from the rest of Cape Town.  Many locals see it as an island, where only the foreign tourists go” said Wayne van der Vent, PIC’s property MD.  The company has not revealed its plans in this regard, but it does want to make the link between the Waterfront and the city more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, reports The Times

POSTSCRIPT 7/7: Southern African Tourism Update reports that yet another hotel is to be built in the Waterfront, in the section undergoing renovation, in the Shosholoza Basin, which links the Cape Grace Hotel and the Clock Tower precinct.   Construction for the whole Clock Tower precinct is estimated to be completed by 2013.

POSTSCRIPT 20/7: The Weekend Argus has reported that 5000 Nedbank/BOE and Allan Gray employees will be accommodated in the Clocktower precinct once the construction work has been completed.  The retail outlets in that area of the Waterfront will be adapetd to suit the needs of the staff working there.

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