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Urban renewal gets another boost as The Fields in Hatfield, Pretoria

17 Jun 2010
Urban renewal gets another boost as The Fields in Hatfield, Pretoria The face of Pretoria’s Hatfield node, once at risk of urban degeneration, is changing forever as Premium Properties Limited announces the second phase of The Fields mixed-use precinct.

Intended from the get-go as a precinct project with explicit urban revitalization goals, the R280 million second phase aims to complement the existing residential, retail and office development - and continue to build a vibrant, mixed-use community.

“A key outcome of The Fields is urban renewal, and we worked to ensure it would support the City of Tshwane’s Metropolitan Spatial Development Framework,” says Jeffrey Wapnick, managing director of developer Premium Properties Limited.

Premium Properties is a JSE-listed property loan stock company that owns assets exceeding R2,2 billion predominantly comprising a portfolio of sectorally-diverse properties, primarily located in the Pretoria CBD, Hatfield, Silverton and the Johannesburg CBD. The company is already strongly invested in Pretoria and has contributed to the upgrade and transformation of numerous buildings.
The Fields precinct, which was launched in 2008, consists of a consolidation of seven of Premium’s core properties, which are situated in the street block bounded by Hilda Street to the east, Burnett Street to the south, Festival Street to the west and the railway line to the north.

The properties were strategically packaged over time to create this renewal opportunity and it has been a catalyst for urban renewal already as a result of The Fields first phase. The node already offers apartments, shopping and prime-grade office space, as well as a Protea Hotel. It has already created one of the largest conglomerations of residential units in a single node in South Africa – all of which are occupied.

The location, as with all well-conceived developments, is superb and within easy walking distance of Hatfield CBD and Loftus Versfeld, as well as the future Gautrain Station.

“The precinct is already a firm favourite with visiting sports teams, while students and people working in Hatfield have snapped up the 700 first-phase apartments,” says City Property Administration’s Tom Burke.

The second phase will see a new 184-room City Lodge coming on-stream, plus some 7,000sqm of demand-led office space, which will offer branding opportunities to large or single users. An expanded parking super-basement will cater to the precinct’s parking needs.

The new hotel will share its building footprint with 5,700sqm A-grade offices located above vibrant ground-floor retail, anchored by a Spar of 1,325sqm which will conveniently meet the daily needs of The Field’s residents and visitors, together with Tops at Spar of 250sqm. A number of restaurants and line-shops will feature along a friendly colonnade, bringing the total retail space at The Fields to 4,800sqm.

The leasing of the apartments, retail and offices is being handled by City Property Administration, a residential and commercial property management company, started by the current Chairman, Alec Wapnick, some 40 years ago. Over the years City Property Administration has followed the ethos of ‘addressing the future’. Its managed portfolio comprises over 400 buildings, including more than 8,000 flats, with a combined lettable area exceeding some 1-million square metres.
“In addition to creating a vibrant space within the development, The Fields maximises the synergies to the surrounding areas, facilities and public transport routes, ensuring that the development is both connected and relevant,” explains Wapnick.
The developers and precinct managers are keenly aware that it takes more than just buildings to create a community.

Development is pitched at a human scale and urban planning is intentionally pedestrian-friendly. Social infrastructure and services are also key – in fact, the Department of Health building at 427 Hilda Street is included in the precinct as is a Virgin Active Gym.

“We’re always careful to assess development ideas through a community lens,” says City Property Administration chairman Alec Wapnick.

The Fields, for instance, will spotlight art as part of community-building.

“It’s critical to have pride in our environment and culture, and art plays a pivotal role in a complete society,” explains Wapnick, pointing out that art is also an important contributor to urban renewal.

To capture The Fields’ unique sense of place, a sculpture has been commissioned for the busy corner of Hilda and Burnett Streets. Entitled ‘Running Man’, the sculpture by Melville artist Marco Cianfanelli captures the animation of the precinct’s streets and spaces.

“The sculpture adds to the urban context by reflecting the youthful, bustling energy of the growing node. It is another way that The Fields can give to the community and create a sense of place,” adds Wapnick.

The new hotel building itself brings the flair of artistry into its design. It contrasts with, but complements, the existing buildings within the precinct. The building communicates its own strong identity through an unpredictable and contradictory pattern of vertical facade columns with coloured glass fenestration and panels in green, red and orange.
Architect Rufus Viljoen of Studio 3 Architects explains that this modern representation features crisp, clean lines expressed in face-brick, stainless steel, and an energetic combination of matt and polished porcelain to create a feeling of light and energy. The design also features signage opportunities for larger office users.
Sustainability, economy and energy saving has been given careful consideration in the design. “The building is well oriented to the sun and includes energy saving lighting. The coloured glass also acts as sun screen for the building’s interior,” notes Viljoen. Elevators have the latest specifications, which are increasingly energy efficient and landscaping includes indigenous planting.
Safety and convenience has been given high priority in the urban design of The Fields. Maximising the key pedestrian links, lighting, street furniture, planting and water features will enhance the experience for those accessing the buildings on ground-level, especially as the precinct is superbly served by public transport.
In addition residents and office staff with motor vehicles enter a safe environment where they can access the secure foyer to their buildings via lifts from a two-level super-basement parking area. There is also ground level access through a conveniently located central hub -- which sits on the crossroads of the energy axis of the precinct – from a beacon-like glass foyer.
Despite delays caused by unseasonal rains, completion for the second phase of The Fields is on target for end-November 2010.

The final element of The Fields’ second phase will be further offices to be developed in line with market demand. This separate building will either be development for one single large user or a number of tenants comprising some 7,000sqm over eight floors and, in keeping with the pedestrian-friendly precinct ethos, will also feature ground floor retail.
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