An eyesore. An impediment. A huge mistake. An unfortunate icon.
These are all terms that have been used to describe the three unfinished highways that have been synonymous with the city’s skyline on the western, central and eastern side of Cape Town’s Foreshore Freeway Precinct for the past five decades. And with good reason.
But of late, they’ve gained a new tag, one that carries a much more positive tone and inspires a measure of large-scale dreaming: opportunity.
Embracing the idea that these bridges hold the key to unlocking a whole new world of possibilities for the foreshore precinct, the City sent out a call for submissions in June 2016, asking the private sector to reimagine the 6ha strip below and between the existing unfinished highways on the northern edge of the Cape Town Harbour.
Of course, there were a few requirements:
- it must address Cape Town’s traffic woes;
- solve the city’s affordable housing needs;
- materialise the vision of transit-oriented development (TOD); and
- leave a lasting legacy – one that will add to the attractiveness of Cape Town as an international destination, and at the same time assist in addressing the challenges of a steadily growing CBD.
Well, a couple of months down the line, submissions have closed and contenders whittled down to six bidders, whose development proposals are currently on display at the Civic Centre for public viewing and commentary. The identities of the various bidders have not been revealed, in order to help viewers remain as unbiased as possible.
“I encourage our residents to view all six of the exhibitions at the Civic Centre and to tell us what they think. These comments will be collated by the multidisciplinary Bid Evaluation Committee (BEC) who will take the public comments into account as part of the extensive evaluation process that will result in the selection of the preferred bidder(s),” said Councillor Brett Herron, Mayoral Committee Member: Transport and Urban Development Authority, during the unveiling of the proposals on Monday.
Executive Mayor Patricia de Lille also encouraged active participation, saying:
I am very excited about the possibilities of this project and this exhibition will give all residents the opportunity to come and view the ideas we have received,
After the conclusion of the public viewing period on 21 March 2017, the BEC will assess and evaluate the six development proposals. This process will take approximately four months due to the technical complexities and scale of the development.
During this time, the bidders will be requested to present their proposals to the BEC where they will have to unpack all of their plans and respond to questions.
Once the presentations have been made, the BEC will deliberate and announce the recommended qualifying bidder(s). The qualifying bidder(s) will sign an agreement with the City of Cape Town which will set out the conditions and requirements of the rest of the process to be followed – including the technical parameters, the prerequisite financial guarantees, phasing, and investment plan.
So, what does the future look like?
All six proposals share the following strong elements:
- urban parks and green areas aplenty;
- a notable reduction in traffic – some through the completion of the unfinished highways, others through the implementation of park-and-ride facilities and bike-sharing initiatives;
- the expansion of public transport networks to include more MyCiti bus stops and express trains;
- inclusive housing – all the proposals have included at least 1/3 affordable housing options, in various forms; and
- mixed-use developments – the idea is to diversify the purpose of buildings and public spaces as far as possible, making them more accessible to all.
Ideas that stood out:
Iconic residential tower
Cape Town S – extending the Sea Point promenade to Milnerton beach
Demolition of bridges
Inclusionary housing in suave new buildings
Public space, sustainability and increase in tourism
Be sure to head on over to the Civic Centre before 21 March 2017 to get a glimpse of the city’s future and, more importantly, have your say about it.