A huge R80 billion regeneration project for the Cape Town Station precinct and more than 50 hectares of land between Woodstock and Culemborg is set to radically alter Cape Town's inner city and breathe life into a "dead area". Plans include the recovery of shipwrecks from below the Cape Town station and the dropping of the railway tracks between Cape Town and Salt River to allow for expanded terrestrial development.
The transformation will revive a "blighted" part of the city, marred by under-utilisation, crime and degradation. "This will change the face of the CBD," said mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith.
The ambitious inner-city facelift, unveiled yesterday at the City of Cape Town's mayoral committee meeting, is one of seven national transport orientated development projects being considered by Intersite, the property division of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA.
As about half of the city's commuters relied on rail transport, Cape Town's regeneration was a "high priority", said Intersite chief executive officer Cromet Molepo.
Intersite's technical manager, Mokena Makeka, said the project would reconnect precincts of the city from District Six, Culemborg and Salt River/Woodstock into an integrated East City space.
It would also form part of a sustainable economic strategy for the area.
But he said the development would need to work with the existing urban environment, and heritage aspects of the area would be preserved.
The rail corridors would have nodes and stations, each with a unique character and economic profile.
Makeka said there would be four neighbourhoods linked by a central spine or grand promenade.
# Neighbourhood A would be mixed-use with a cultural centre, museum and boutique hotels.
# Neighbourhood B would be a centre of technological research and education.
# Neighbourhood C would be a government services area with staff housing and parliamentary loft apartments.
# Neighbourhood D would be a health and lifestyle area with clinics, sport medical centres and a fitness park.
Intersite said the public investment alone in the project would be at least R20 billion.
Makeka said challenges included the zoning rights that would be needed to get a project of this magnitude off the ground, and the "substantial" amount of infrastructure that would be placed underground.
Intersite asked the mayoral committee to treat the project as one of "strategic importance".
Makeka added: "We need to collaborate with the city to realise the vision."
The city has been asked to provide resources so that Intersite can complete a feasibility plan for the project by 2012.
But members of the mayoral committee said they were concerned that Intersite could not confirm how much the project would cost the city.
"The city wants to be a partner, but there are concerns, such as the financial impact on the city," said Cape Town mayor Dan Plato.
Ward councillor for the area Belinda Walker asked Intersite for a more detailed plan with clear time targets.
Although Intersite's plan has the support of Mansoor Mohammed, executive director of economic development, the mayoral committee said there had to be wider consultation with the ward councillors involved for it to get the council's approval.
The committee has asked for a report on planning applications that would be needed for the project.
Intersite said it needed the co-operation of the city, and other spheres of government, as well as investors.
"The 2030 project is a catalytic project which will be the start of a long-term corridor revitalisation process that will act as a social, spatial and economic stitch at local and provincial scale," it said.