Developments that combine residential, retail and commercial office space are not only becoming more widespread in South Africa – they’re also springing up all over the African continent. While South Africa remains home to some of the foremost examples of these developments anywhere in the world, strong economic growth in a number of African countries is fuelling the drive towards mixed-use projects in different territories.
The International Monetary Fund lists nine of the world’s 15 fastest-growing economies as being in Africa: Ghana (8.8%), South Sudan (8.8%), Rwanda (7.8%), Ethiopia (7.7%), Côte d’Ivoire (7.5%), Senegal (6.9%), Djibouti (6.7%), Benin (6.5%) and neighbouring Niger (6.5%).
These are significant economic expansion rates. In the context of Africa’s climbing population, expanding working-age numbers and accelerating urbanisation, it’s clear why local governments and town planners are having to maximise every piece of available land. Mixed-use developments are some of the best solutions to this challenge. By 2034, Africa’s working-age population will outstrip those of China and India, according to the World Economic Forum, so the need for innovative urban-planning solutions couldn’t be more urgent.
“Technologically enhanced mixed-use developments can drive investment, improve the business climate and build infrastructure – factors that grow a city’s economy. Modern mixed-use developments support a high-quality urban lifestyle,” says Nicholas Stopforth, Managing Director of Amdec Property Developments.
In South Africa, the Amdec Group’s Melrose Arch has shown over many years how a mixed-use property can thrive by adapting to the times. It’s an established precinct that has been able to expand and grow, despite the economic slowdown.
Melrose Arch incorporates residential apartments, AAA-grade office space, luxury hotels, an events venue, scores of restaurants and coffee shops, high-end retail, including large national and international brands, as well as a flagship Virgin Active gym.
“Residents and working professionals have everything they need on their doorstep, without having to get into their cars, or worry about safety. This was one of the first developments in the area to achieve that. Melrose Arch has consistently been one of the safest public places in Johannesburg – something we’re very proud of,” Stopforth says.
Lagos in Nigeria is moving towards mixed-use properties, with locals and expats all looking for safe pedestrian-oriented spaces in the city, where all their daily needs are met without having to endure hours in traffic. Congestion on the roads and the negative impact on mental, physical and environmental health, have become major factors in urban development and design.
Analysts say that Westlands and Upper Hill in Nairobi also owe their origins, in large part, to traffic congestion, and Airport City in Accra, Ghana has similar roots. There is tremendous appeal in spending less time in traffic, and reducing the fatigue and frustration that comes with it. The desire for better quality of life is pushing purchasers and investors towards mixed-use developments because time poverty afflicts all of us.
The availability of hotels and hospitality within mixed-use developments, is another factor across Africa, with more and more business travellers flocking to major centres, because of the aforementioned economic growth.
“Our latest project, The Yacht Club in Cape Town, incorporates luxury residential apartments, premium-grade office space as well as Africa’s first AC by Marriott Hotel. Located within walking distance of the Cape Town city centre, it’s conveniently close to access points to both the N1 and N2 highways, it offers direct pedestrian access to the V&A Waterfront, and a lot more. A fantastic location to live, work and relax,” Stopforth concludes.
Mixed-use developments are clearly here to stay – not only on local shores, but abroad too. It’s a model that makes sense on a number of levels – for residents, tenants, office workers, business travellers and investors. A modern-day solution to contemporary challenges.