Southern Africa's biggest tourist attraction - the V&A Waterfront - was three decades ago a 'far sighted' idea but as it celebrates its 25th anniversary, it has become a massive source of income and pleasure.
|The V&A Waterfront viewed from the Cape Town Observation Wheel.|
'The V&A Waterfront is a special place, where a centuries-old working harbour remains at the heart of a modern, cosmopolitan urban precinct. Built on layers of history and generations of Capetonians who have jealously treasured their links with the city's maritime heritage, the Waterfront has assumed a special place and significance in the hearts of our community,' V&A chief executive David Green said in the foreword a book entitled V&A Waterfront 25th Anniversary which is to be launched on Wednesday.
From humble and somewhat optimistic beginnings, the V&A transformed from a tentative construction site with a single tenant in 1989 to a property that contributed R198 billion to the national gross domestic product between 2002 and 2012.
Economic opportunities MEC Alan Winde said: 'The V&A Waterfront has been an income generator in our region (province). The V&A was bought by an international company during the recession yet it still made income. It's also a massive contributor to our national economy.'
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said: 'Just like our Natural World Wonder Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront is one of the places that attract the most visitors in the city. For 25 years the V&A has been a place where the world meets Cape Town. After so many years it still brings people together,' she said.
The V&A Waterfront was constructed in six phases with the first completed in 1990, two years after it was originally opened. In December 2002 phase five was completed and two years later, the first residential property - V&A Marina - was completed in 2004.
In 2007 the second phase of V&A Marina was completed.
Between 1988 and 2006 the V&A Waterfront Company was run as a subsidiary of Transnet Limited.
Dubai World and London & Regional bought the V&A Waterfront from Transnet for $1bn running the company from 2006 to early 2011.
Later that year, Growthpoint Properties and the SA Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), represented by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) bought the V&A Waterfront for R10bn.
Cape Town's original harbour played an instrumental role in shaping the Waterfront.
Developing the V&A Waterfront posed several hurdles, as it was difficult to see the derelict, historical dockland in any other way. Over the years, several people had proposed doing something with the docklands, but had failed.
The harbours and railway land belonged to the state and not the city, meaning the area had to be rezoned which was consuming.