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Old Mutual's Midrand project gets kick from 2010 World Cup

SA's successful 2010 Soccer World Cup bid is expected to have a positive effect on Old Mutual Properties' plans for 200ha of land in Midrand as the Gautrain rapid rail project gains momentum.

The property giant has also said the core parts of its planned retail and mixed-use development, Zonki'Zizwe, in Midrand, could be completed sooner than expected.

Old Mutual Properties MD Ian Watt says SA's hosting of the tournament has already started to have positive spin-offs. The most significant has been the announcement that the planned Gautrain rapid rail link between Pretoria and Johannesburg International Airport will be brought forward to ensure it is available in time for the World Cup.

Watt says the Gautrain will link major central business districts in which Old Mutual has substantial property investments, as well as other locations such as Rosebank, which houses The Zone@Rosebank, an Old Mutual development.

"Even more important is the fact that there is to be a station in Midrand on part of the 200ha of land owned by Old Mutual and proposed as the location for the Zonki'Zizwe development."

With the World Cup adding impetus to the Gautrain project, Old Mutual can now put time frames to the Zonki'Zizwe development.

But Watt says the timing of this development has to be linked to the upgrading of the N1 highway and the Gautrain project because the additional movement of people will increase traffic up to 30% above present levels.

The Zonki'Zizwe project is worth more than R5bn and Watt says it will have a "very strong component" of high-density housing such as apartments and medium-density housing such as cluster homes. The project will also include a large retail component and Old Mutual's aim is to bring major retailers to Midrand.

Watt says delays in the planned development have been due to the need to wait for the necessary transport infrastructure.

He believes an accelerated road programme will not only benefit the business community, but will improve road services in many poorer communities.

Watt says the first step is to build the water retention dam needed on the Zonki'Zizwe site and to begin with the roads surrounding and giving access to the site.

"A project the size of Zonki'Zizwe could take five to seven years to complete because of phasing. However, the core parts could be completed in three to four years."

Jul 21 2004 - Business Day Reporter - www.sapoa.org.za