Mural marks start of redevelopment
The redevelopment of Cape Town’s last remaining city block has kicked off with the unveiling of a towering street art mural. Measuring a massive 6m by 10 storeys high, a surrealistic lighthouse fronts the vertical space on the corner of Strand and Loop Street, symbolically linking the city to the sea and its maritime heritage.
Renowned Ukrainian street artist Aleksandr Nikitiuk, 53, whose murals often mix realism and surrealism, took six days to complete the project with the help of Cape Town-based street artists Tatiana Hurn and Stephen Ajobiah.
Boxwood Property Fund owns the entire city block which fronts Bree, Loop, Castle and Strand Streets − comprising three separate buildings − which it acquired late last year for a total of R220 million.
This is the last remaining city block that can be redeveloped in the city and Boxwood plans to invest a further R800m to rejuvenate the existing buildings to create premium grade retail and offices with parking.
The fabric of the buildings will be retained while an emphasis will be placed on creating an interesting streetscape and incorporating exciting architecture.
Over the past 18 months Boxwood has invested around R1 billion in a number of older office buildings in Cape Town’s CBD and plans to invest a further R800m in rejuvenating these and other properties.
The company is currently awaiting planning approval to start the R130m redevelopment of The Box on Waterkant Street, one of the CBD’s tallest buildings (formerly known as Atterbury House or the old Shell House), which will see it being materially upgraded into a 4-star Green Building, with a gross lettable area of 25 600m² (3 543m² of retail space, 25 000m² of office space and 570 parking bays).
Boxwood Property Fund CEO Rob Kane says: “We have a passion for the city and its health and our aim is to promote a lively streetscape and create an environment that is exciting to our tenants. In cities like Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin, the street art and murals are an integral part of what makes those cities so vibrant.
“We teamed up with local NGO, BazArt, to help us find a suitable artist. We were also fortunate enough to have had the support of local construction company, R+N Master Builders who provided the scaffolding work at cost.
“We are grateful to the city for approving the artwork. Everyone involved has seen the value-add of the mural. The project has employed local artists, contractors, scaffold crews and the like. It is difficult to see a downside.”
Nikitiuk was originally selected to participate in the International Public Art Festival in Cape Town in February but was unable to attend at the time.
Baz-Art, assisted by the Ukranian Embassy, eventually succeeded in bringing the artist to Cape Town in June to begin work on the super-sized lighthouse mural.