Finance: Namibia set for first-ever large-scale R2 billion mixed-use
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In the first and largest development of its kind in Namibia, Windhoek will soon have its own mixed use precinct -- with retail, residential, hotel, entertainment and offices all interlinked in a single vibrant location. Freedom Plaza is designed to new-urbanist principals, similar to South Africa's iconic Melrose Arch in Johannesburg.
The premium quality, R2 billion, 80,000m2 precinct development is set to go ahead in the heart of the Windhoek CBD and will be developed by South African companies Madison Property Fund Managers together with Swish Properties. Redefine Income Fund, a leading JSE-listed property company, is the major shareholder with partners which include Namibian company United Africa Group.
Freedom Plaza is a project of the highest international standards and will transform the urban design and dynamic of Windhoek CBD. "We are secure that this world-class asset will add prestige to the city as well as become an interest point for locals and travellers alike," says Mike Flax of Madison Property Fund Managers.
"Africa remains underserviced by reasonable quality real estate to cater to the needs of a continent growing at a pace well ahead of that of the developed world," says Flax. He adds that Namibia is a natural first step for South African companies wishing to grow beyond the border of South Africa as a result of its neighbouring proximity, political stability and growing economy.
Redefine CEO Brian Azizollahoff has every confidence in property investment and development in Namibia. "Freedom Plaza represents an exciting opportunity for Redefine to expand its investment into Namibia. We are confident that it will enhance our property portfolio and contribute to growing income returns for our investors," says Azizollahoff.
Comprising four premium-grade office towers, a 6-star boutique African Pride Hotel, a 4-star Hotel for the Arabella Starwood Group, three trendy residential apartment blocks including airy lofts and exclusive penthouses, and convenient retail to meet the everyday needs of those living, working, enjoying and meeting in this top-notch cosmopolitan destination, Freedom Plaza is exciting, energetic and is set to be the heart of all that is trendy in Windhoek.
All this will be underpinned by a three-level super-basement which provides secure, weatherproof parking. Retail will be conveniently located at street level with the energy of pedestrianisation creating an exciting human-scale interaction setting on the tiered shopping podium, with vibrant open spaces and sidewalk café seating taking advantage of the gorgeous climate.
Superbly situated, Freedom Plaza is surrounded by the Namibian Reserve Bank, Namibian Supreme Court, Windhoek City Council and the important 'green lung' of a beautiful public park. It is located on Independence Avenue, the main road in Windhoek.
This five year project will culminate in two hotels with 350 rooms combined, 8,000m2 of retail floorspace, 180 residential units, 35,000m2 of office space and 2,000 parking bays, with the public space linking all these ingredients offering an unsurpassed social experience.
As specialist developers -- Madison has been behind some of South Africa's landmark properties such as iconic Convention Tower which stands at the gateway to Cape Town's illustrious foreshore and neighbours the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) -- Flax stresses choosing the right local partner is imperative. "We will be looking for a major contractor with an established base in Namibia which will ensure that Madison's expertise is applied correctly in a local context. It also facilitates the exchange of knowledge and skills," says Flax.
The construction phase of the development is going to create thousands of jobs and numerous opportunities for Namibian businesses, with the ongoing operations of the hotels, shops and restaurants creating sustainable economic advancement for hundreds of families within the community.
"It is our strategic goal to ensure that as much benefit as possible which flows from the development of Freedom Plaza should stay within the local economy," says Flax.
A third of Freedom Plaza will be dedicated to community facilities including an important bus terminus served by the main public transport routes, tourism kiosk, craft market, taxi rank, pedestrian walk ways and public squares. In addition it will be an asset to the business community with convention, conference, presentation and meeting facilities.
Flax explains that a mixed -- use retail, commercial, residential and recreational precinct encapsulates an ideal lifestyle. "It creates an environment where personal and business needs can be met with ease, without having to travel long distances," he explains. "You can live, work, workout, eat-out, relax, socialise and shop - all without leaving Freedom Plaza."
This, of course, means that it is also good for the environment as it is easy to get around on foot, instead of having to jump into a petrol-guzzling, carbon-emitting car. In fact, mixed-use developments like Freedom Plaza have powerful environmental advantage and can reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. "We use less energy living closer together, people walk more and take advantage of public transport, in addition to other benefits," notes Flax.
The developers will be applying the latest green building principles and techniques to Freedom Plaza, bringing with them the cutting-edge information, ideas and methods which they are privy to as members of the Green Building Council of South Africa.
The first phase of Freedom Plaza is due to commence in November 2008 and will comprise an impressive 32,000m2 including a hotel and office location. It is anticipated to take two years to complete.
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