BEE led consortium launches R11billion mega settlement

Reggie Kukuma, CEO of the Vaal River City Development Company, at the Vaal River City Launch

Vaal River City Development Company recently announced the launch of the Vaal River City Development. This R11billion mega settlement on the Vaal River is one of five ‘corridors’ where housing and other economic development will be intensified.

The Vaal River City Development Company (PTY) Ltd is a special purpose vehicle established in 2008 by a BEE led consortium involved in property development and property holding. Headed up by Reggie Kukama, the company has established significant skills base in the areas of real estate development and investment.

There are five new economic corridors that have been initiated by the Gauteng Provincial Government and the private sector will invest multibillions into these new cities and mega settlements to ensure that these regions receive long overdue economic boost.

The new Vaal River City Development will see the regeneration of a key industrial node in the south of Gauteng which was once a thriving hub of the steel industry and burgeoning towns of Vanderbiljpark and Vereeniging.
The Vaal River City will be a blue print for future cities with visual and economic orientation towards and along both banks of the Vaal River. Offering a six kilometre river front expanse, Reggie Kukuma, CEO of the Vaal River City Development Company said, “When we first viewed this unique site, it was our vision to provide a river city complex where the public will have access to magnificent water frontage amenities and enjoy an unparalleled lifestyle.”

“Most major cities are on a river and this was a huge opportunity as most other waterways in South Africa are privatised but this precinct model meant the general public would have greater accessibility,” said Kukama. “Offering cycle tracks, pedestrian pathways, a Metropolitan bus system, civic centre, medical and educational facilities, this development will cater to a variety of individuals and the broader communities.”

The BEE consortium acquired the land from Steyn City Properties, who saw the potential in Kukama and his partners. Plumari has subsequently retained an interest and is a shareholder in the development company.

“We identified that the unique position of this land central to three urban centres and in the middle of a major route network, with waterfront accessibility is a prime location for development. It was a case of identifying a BEE consortium with the right vision and skills set that could deliver, and Kukama had these credentials.

“The new development company owns the land outright and has the commitment of government to partner with them towards contributing services and infrastructure. This new mega settlement is an excellent opportunity for investors who want to assist government in their development criteria for future generations,” said Giuseppe Plumari.

The Vaal River City development company has engaged with government to transform this asset that will create a new economy for the people of Sedibeng. There has been a critical lack of investment in the area so private companies stepped up.

At the sod turning event of the Vaal River City Development on 6 May, Premier of Gauteng David Makhura said that, “We take this opportunity to thank our private sector partners for walking with us on this important journey. We assure our partners of our ongoing support on this and many other projects. We reiterate that Gauteng is open for business and that this government regards the private sector as a partner in development.”

A unique mixed use development, Vaal River City will house 400, 000 m² of commercial office space, 60,000 m² retail and leisure component, 20 hectares of park areas including a bird sanctuary and 5000 residential units. The developers will issue notices for the basic services infrastructure which is scheduled to commence within 2015/2016 financial year.

The Vaal River City Development has been split between residential and commercial components. The residential section is envisaged to be about 20% to 25% of the development, while the commercial and retail segment will be 75% to 80% of the overall site.

The development is strategically and centrally located with access to key roads that link up to Sasolburg, Vanderbijlpark and Vereeniging other parts of the country. The development concept allows for the opportunity to integrate all these communities’ development that caters for everybody including the two universities that are within the area.

The special integration will allow for area that is very friendly for the population of the Vaal area and will have a Government Precinct that allows for a centralised servicing of the respective areas. The government precinct will have municipal offices, the court of law, government departments and other services to address various housing developments’ needs.

A requisite of the southern corridor is that it must be environmentally sustainable and promote the creation of liveable cities.

Vaal River City will have green buildings that are designed and constructed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment. They will be designed to efficiently use energy, water, and other natural resources, protect occupant health, improve employee productivity, and reduce pollution.

The Vaal River City Development company aims to incorporate energy-efficient heating, cooling, lighting, and water systems, including high-performance insulation, windows, doors, and appliances; sustainable construction materials such as those made from recycled and recyclable materials with reduced-emissions; and water-saving site design and landscaping.

This development will capture the historical legacy of South Africa, through cultural themes, historical artwork, cultural sites and architecture that represents this heritage. The unique location will offer a lifestyle experience near the water through bird parks, vast walkways and picnic spots accessible to all. It will bring a distinctive residential and commercial development, with road infrastructure and investment that will capture economic value and stimulate economic activity.

Nishal Mistry, one of the DBM architects working on the project said that, “The architectural intent for the Vaal City Development is to create a thriving Metropolitan Centre with wholesome, safe, family orientated living that is properly integrated into the existing neighbouring communities. Provision has been made in the master planning throughout the commercial, civic, and residential precincts for social, recreational, play and private spaces with a special emphasis having been placed on the need for pedestrian access in connecting these elements – not just to each other, but also to the neighbouring communities. The architecture is intended to be uncluttered and contemporary with no unnecessary or gratuitous references to any particular regional style. Work precincts must be functional yet not sterile or devoid of social interaction; and equally residential precincts must be wholesome places where families can enjoy rich, colourful and interactive lives with each other.”

Premier Makhura stated that, “The provincial government and municipalities must do their part to ensure that the rebirth of Sedibeng into a new economic giant in the south of Gauteng succeeds. The private sector has also done a lot by catalysing this development of the Vaal River City using their own land and own resources. We must crowd in more private and public sector investment leveraging state-owned land – municipal, provincial and national government land.

“The era of random sale of government land must come to an end. We need to use our own land strategically for industrial development and mega human settlements.”

The Southern Corridor will encompass the economy of the Sedibeng district and the creation of new industries, new economic nodes and emergent cities. To reignite the economy in southern Gauteng, the “Vaal River City Metro” will capitalise on its potential for water-linked industries and transform itself into a logistics and heritage centre. Shifting the economy of this corridor away from its overreliance on the steel industry, it will diversify to include entertainment and logistics and anchor itself around river tourism and agro processing.

To revive, modernise and re-industrialise the southern corridor and in order to build a seamlessly integrated, socially cohesive, economically inclusive City Region, the development of the new Vaal River City (hydropolis) aims to unlock the potential of the waterfront developments in the Emfuleni and Midvaal areas.

The vision of transforming Sedibeng Region into a single Metropolitan City is an invigorating initiative in the Gauteng Province and this vision emanates from the view that many of the region’s apartheid legacy problems, particularly those of a socio-economic nature, will best be tackled by one large and cohesive institutional body.
The establishment of the Greater Vaal Metropolitan River City will have many benefits, including but not limited to: geographic consolidation of highly urbanised areas of rapid growth and development; large scale residential development projects; and mobility of people, goods and services into and out of the new metro.

Already the private sector is planning to invest more than R4 billion into this development, which will stimulate much needed economic activity in this corridor. The development is estimated to be worth between R7 and R11 billion, and will create up to 7 500 jobs in the construction phase alone.

The development promotes the linking of different main roads, particularly the intersection of the R59 and the R42 and resultantly promotes mixed-use high density development. The interchange at R59 and R42 will have a slipway into the development and promote the promoting high density development along the public road transport link.
R500m is estimated for the bulk infrastructure which includes a new on- and off- ramp linking the R59 from Alberton into Sharpville for commuter ease, roads, water, and sewer pump station.