The Island Club, Rabie Property Projects 445-unit development at Century City, was voted the top residential development in South Africa for 2005, while Vangate Mall, which opened in Athlone last year, took top honours for innovative excellence in retail property development.
The awards were presented at the Sapoa annual convention in Durban last week. John Chapman, a director of Rabie Property Projects, which jointly developed the Island Club with Harries Projects and Nedbank Corporate Property Finance, said they were delighted with the industry’s recognition of the innovative excellence of the development, which they believed was of a world-class standard.
“In fact, we believe so much in the quality of this projects that we have also entered it for the Bentley International Property Awards which take place in London at the end of the year.”
The Island Club, which is set across the Grand Canal from Canal Walk shopping centre, was the first project to bring residential living to the central Century City site and has been followed by four other successful developments including Villa Italia, Knightsbridge, Bougain Villas and the Oasis Retirement Resort.
Chapman said the market had significantly endorsed the R450m project, which had sold out in a record two-month period with initial investors having enjoyed significant capital growth over the development phase.
Demand for apartments in the Island Club remains strong, with more than 130 apartments having been re-sold for initial investors. Owner occupiers now account for approximately 75% of the development.
He said the challenges of the Island Club, which is set around man-made waterways and islands, included responding to the striking architecture of Canal Walk and in particular its northern face to Half Moon Bay; ensuring that virtually all apartments and water frontage; creating a secure and luxuriously landscaped environment with running tracks, play parks, indoor heated and outdoor pools; producing buildings with movement and changing roofscapes so as to respond to the waterways and achieve visual interest and a human scale, and enabling a lifestyle of convenience where buildings and spaces were interconnected, safe and user-friendly.
The chairman of the Vangate Development Company, Mustapha Murudker, said Vangate Mall was honoured to have received the award and that it vindicated the development company’s steadfast adherence to the principles of empowerment and community engagement.
“Roughly 75% of the contractors involved in the construction of the precinct hailed from previously disadvantaged communities within the greater Athlone area, and almost 25% of the tenants within the centre were sourced via the local communities,” said Murudker.
Vangate Mall is anchored by some of South Africa’s leading retailers, including Woolworths, Pick n Pay, Edgars, Truworths and Clicks. The remaining 30% is made up of a host of independent and specialized traders from the area, the most noteworthy of which is Elite Supermarket. Having traded from its Gatesville premises for over 30 years, this local retail giant has joined forces with the Spar group to create and Elite Superspar which spans over 3000m².
Other local institutions such as Lady Bee Delhi Diner, Hilite Interiors, Sherezad, Tasneems and Fazlien’s sit alongside the likes of Cape Union Mart, Musica, Keedo, Zoom and Spitz to create and authentic and vibrantly South African mix.
The Souk at Vangate Mall provides yet another empowering opportunity for local budding retailers, and has been referred to as the “incubator” of the centre. Former informal traders – either from Athlone CBD or the hawker-type stalls flanking the centre’s activity spine – are able to graduate to the Souk, where they can trade from semi-formal retail premises and receive on-site training and mentorship, before graduating yet further into fully fledged retail premises within the main body of the mall.
“Vangate Mall proudly accepts this award on behalf the people of Athlone, for it is only with their ongoing support that we can call ourselves a true centre of the community,” said Murudker.