Johannesburg – The construction of Modderfontein New City, north-east of Johannesburg, a rival future city to Sandton, has gained further momentum with the launch of the first phase of a residential development in the precinct.
The massive 1 600 hectare site was acquired by Hong Kong Stock Exchange listed property developer Shanghai Zendai from AECI 2013 for the planned R80 billion-plus mixed use development.
Anthony Diepenbroek, the chief executive of Zendai Development South Africa, said this week that more than R400 million had been invested in roads, electrical, water and sewerage infrastructure on the development site in the past 12 months, a 200-bed hospital was nearing completion adjacent to Linbro Park and they had commenced designing the planned Gautrain station.
Diepenbroek was speaking at the launch of the about R25m first phase of The Centenary, a block of 54 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments located on a site at the corner of Antwerp Road and Centenary Way, close to the proposed Modderfontein Gautrain station.
He said The Centenary was being developed adjacent to Modderfontein Golf Course and Flamingo Dam, which would eventually comprise six apartment blocks that would provide a total of about 300 apartments.
Diepenbroek said construction on the first phase of The Centenary would commence early next year with the apartments available for occupation in 2017. The timing of the construction of future phases on The Centenary would be market demand driven.
Diepenbroek said 70 percent of the development site was earmarked for residential, and there would eventually be about 70 000 apartments in higher density four- to five-storey blocks when it was completed.
But Diepenbroek said there would be almost 500ha of “green space” in the development, which would be developed over the next about 20 years.
The Centenary features modern amenities, such as acoustic solutions to soundproof windows, biometric access to each building, high speed internet and fibre optic points in every apartment, as well as back-up generators to common areas and lifts providing safety and comfort in the event of power outages.
Apartments at The Centenary range from R1.15m for one-bedroom, R2.2m for two-bedroom and R2.8m for three-bedroom apartments, including VAT, transfer duty and parking.
Diepenbroek said Zendai Development SA had to build the proposed Gautrain station at their own cost. He said the platform and underpasses were built at a cost of R55m when the property was still part of AECI and the agreement with the Gautrain Management Agency was that the developer would build the station.
Based on the cost of the Midrand Gautrain station model, it would cost about R250m to build the station, he said.
“We have commenced the design of the station and anticipate that if everything goes well construction will probably start in early 2017, with the station opening at the end of 2018,” he said.
Diepenbroek said they had already upgraded the main substation that fed the Modderfontein area at their own expense to ensure the future supply of electricity to the area, and would be establishing the entire “ring main” to take electricity on to the site.
However, Diepenbroek said they were not under any false illusions about the ability of Eskom and the new city to provide sufficient electricity to site and the objective was to be at least between 30 percent and 50 percent self sufficient for the new city’s power needs.
Diepenbroek said this would be achieved through the “smart city concept” they were focusing on, which opened the door for the use of solar and other energy alternatives.
He said there would not be any impediment in the short term to the speed at which the new city could be developed, but the fully completed development would eventually require more than 800 megawatt of power, which was one of the modules of the new power stations.
Diepenbroek said other elements of the project they were focusing on included the 180ha of developable land immediately behind Linbro Business Estate.
“It is for a mix of warehousing, residential and offices. We don’t believe there is going to be demand for offices in the short term in this area. With all the office vacancies in Sandton, decentralised offices are certainly not something we are focusing on.
“We will focus on warehousing and residential. There is an opportunity for 3 000 residential units immediately behind Linbro Business Estate overlooking the lake,” he said. Diepenbroek rejected suggestions that the slowdown in the Chinese economy would have an impact on the roll-out of the development.
“Chinese people by their very nature are long-term thinkers and the events in the Chinese economy are short-term events that clearly have an impact on the global economy.
“But they have very little impact on long-term decisions, which is what this development in Modderfontein is,” he said.
The coming months should see construction start in earnest on the R84 billion Chinese-driven “smart city” project, on Johannesburg’s East Rand, which will be completed over a 15-year period.
Anthony Diepenbroek, CEO of Zendai Development SA – the local arm of Hong Kong-based Shanghai Zendai Investments – says the “smart” concept for Modderfontein New City, as the development is known, is not limited to ICT services such as connectivity and fibre-to-the-home.
“We envisage that once the new city begins to take shape, smart systems will not only provide world-class ICT infrastructure, but also enable efficient use of resources and provide services that are responsive to people’s needs. The smart city elements will be all pervasive and not limited to ICT functions – but also cover energy, healthcare, water, waste and education.”
He says the new city will embrace smart technology to aid in the administration of city services, as well as reduce congestion, pollution, and energy consumption through sustainable development practices.
“Modderfontein New City is expected to be the first smart city in the country with services and systems designed into the fabric of the built environment from the outset.”
Zendai Development SA notes, once completed, the planned development is expected to infuse an additional employment boost in the Ekurhuleni metro, generating up to 200 000 white- and blue-collar jobs.
The company also expects the smart city development will create a significant amount of jobs and contribute billions of rands to the economy during the construction phase. According to an economic assessment, prepared by the Bureau for Economic Research (BER) in March last year, “there may be significant economy-wide benefits stemming from the Modderfontein development”.
The BER assessment – based on the 15-year development period and data supplied by the developers – indicates an annual contribution to the economy of R13.5 billion and the creation of more than 21 000 jobs a year.
Diepenbroek claims the project will see some of the biggest construction activity since the country hosted the soccer World Cup in 2010. “The model is skewed towards partnerships with local developers and/or the on-selling of parcels of land to independent developers. We expect the project to create significant downstream opportunities for even students in artisans’ institutes in the vicinity.”
He adds skills and knowledge transfer is an imperative to a project of any size. “Given the footprint of Modderfontein New City, we trust we will be able to run a robust knowledge transfer programme in project management and engineering, safety, sustainability, project controls and other specialties.”
Diepenbroek also allays fears that skills for the construction of the smart city would be resourced mainly from China, meaning the local labour force would not benefit. “As an organisation, we will seek to attract and develop the right mix of skills to support the development. To ensure a flow of the right talent to grow the business over time, we will be looking at hiring both locally as well as globally to build our talent pipeline.
“We seek to make a direct and meaningful contribution to economic and social inclusion by employing local talent. If certain skills are not available in South Africa, we would look at the global pool for such skills. However, we will have a programme to ensure these skills are transferred to South Africans. As a business, we are committed to meeting the prescribed employment benchmarks.”
Diepenbroek points out the development will be managed by Zendai Development SA, which will ensure contracts awarded to suppliers – both local and international – will follow due process and comply with regulatory and local government requirements.
He further notes the technology components for the smart city development would be sourced both locally and internationally. “The city will be rendered ‘smart’ through a collection of technologies cutting across many industries – transportation and traffic management, energy, telecoms and IT, electronics and surveillance, etc.
“To manage this torrent of information on a project the size of Modderfontein New City – we will have to rely on both local, as well as international suppliers. No one firm can cover the entire industry chain, in our opinion.”
The proposed development has also raised concerns among the Wetland Society of SA. According to environmental consultant and Wetland Society board member Paul Fairall, the extended seeps and wetland systems that straddle the Modderfonteinspruit are classified by Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development as irreplaceable.
Fairall says he will approach Zendai Development SA to discuss the company’s environmental impact assessment permits. However, Diepenbroek says all relevant clearances and regulatory approvals will be sought before any project starts. “Applications for environment clearances are sought on a project basis.
“These include detail related to wetlands, planned public/private open space, and the full spectrum of development parameters. All applications are subject to scrutiny and ultimately approval by the relevant authorities and departments therein.”
He points out Zendai Development SA previously planned and implemented projects such as Modderfontein Reserve and the rehabilitation and restoration of the Westlake wetland, in Modderfontein.
Source: IT Web
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