The multi-billion Rand Time Square development in the east of Pretoria – which will include a five star hotel and casino – is drawing negative feedback from the public, including a group of 22 residents’ associations, known collectively as the Joint Action Group.
But local property developers seem to disagree, including Org Geldenhuys, MD of Abacus DIVISIONS. An outspoken Geldenhuys said it is “very possible that the Joint Action Group does not understand the process of property development and approval of development rights – and is commenting without getting the proper information.”
“A traffic impact study and subsequent road upgrades that follow prior to proclamation of rights is usually the first thing that the Tshwane council would call for in an area such as Menlyn. No developer or land owner would be able to develop without contributing in a major way to the road infrastructure and other services infrastructure in an area of development – that’s part of property development 101. Most upgrades are entirely funded by developers of land and not by the city. The days when the municipality paid for infrastructure upgrades are long gone,” said Geldenhuys.
One of the major concerns of the Joint Action Group is that the piece of land where a casino will be built, as a part of the Menlyn Maine development has, as its background, only a line of trees separating the site from the Glen High School.
But Geldenhuys believes the multibillion-rand Time Square at Menlyn Maine in the east of Pretoria could very well have positive spin-offs for the government’s objectives of job-creation and black economic empowerment.
The development will include the biggest casino in Gauteng, with the developers, Sun International, claiming that as many as 10 000 jobs will be created during construction and a further 2 200 permanent jobs thereafter.
Time Square will tie in with other Sun International urban leisure destinations – Grand West Arena in Cape Town, the Superbowl at Sun City and Big Top Arena at Carnival City – to provide unique new facilities in Tshwane, the developers said.
The Joint Action Group, however, has expressed outrage with the City of Tshwane with what they referred to as “underhanded” ways in which the municipality dealt with the Menlyn Node Spatial Development Framework and developments in the Menlyn area in general.
“This could just be a lot of griping, without really investigating the facts. The City of Tshwane would have to act extremely transparently when it comes to a development of this magnitude,” said Geldenhuys.
“The City of Tshwane has an Integrated Transport Plan that covers all traffic and transport aspects – as well as the necessary upgrades to be done for the nearly 1.36million m2 of development that will make up the Menlyn node once fully developed. The Menlyn node has another total development potential of 940 000 m2 and 5200 residential units that is already planned for -and that will be rolled out over the next number of years, depending on the economy.
“The boost that Sun International’s development will bring to this area will mean that the City of Tshwane’s goal for the development of the Menlyn node will be brought forward from the planning of 20 to 30 years to within 15 years. It’s a welcome boost for the area,” Geldenhuys stated.
He said anyone saying that the City of Tshwane dealt in a “underhanded” way with the Menlyn Node Spatial Development Framework and developments in the Menlyn area is “simply uninformed”, adding that development is going to happen in the Menlyn area “whether people like it or not”.
Other developments at Time Square in Menlyn include Sun International’s proposal for a broad-based black economic empowerment component, with the development expected to generate considerable revenue for the government through the generation of taxes and gaming levies.
The proposed new development will comprise a five-star hotel, a casino, international conference centre, restaurant, bars, parking facilities and a retail precinct.
The casino, to be designed around a time theme, will have 2 000 slot machines and 60 tables to start with, possibly increasing by a further 1 000 slot machines and 40 gaming tables if the demand warranted it.
The luxury hotel, which will be situated adjacent to the casino, will have 110 rooms covering six floors, including 10 luxury suites on the upper levels. Additionally, an entertainment complex will accommodate up to 8 000 patrons for concerts, shows and exhibitions. A conference centre is also planned on the site which borders the Glen High School.