When planning the time frame for the refurbishment of the Randburg Waterfront, immediate consideration had to be given to completion of the project fast enough to minimize seasonal trade disruption, while slow enough to minimize residential and public inconvenience. The project management team appointed for the refurb BFH (Bovell, Freeman, Holley) knew then that their biggest challenge would encompass the vast scope of the work, the project civil works to be undertaken in a commercial site, and the sheer volume of material needed to fill the lake.
Sourcing fill material was the first challenge, after which it had to be brought to site. Fortunately approximately one third of the fill required has been excavated from the parking area on the East Side of the development which is being leveled to remove the currently unfriendly slope of the land and make it more consumer friendly. Construction began after the lake was drained in January 2003 and since then the continuos challenge facing the team relates to the execution of work with minimal disruptions; quite a restraint with trucks coming into site every four minutes.
The decision to create an underground culvert to facilitate the storm water system that currently feeds the lake, was one of the major design and environmental considerations of the refurbishment, the installation and diversion of which posed another possible issue. A large portion of the excavation is in the existing parking area, separating this from the back of the centre, with the final section taking place at the flea market entrance, all of which has had to be managed in limited sections to minimize public inconvenience. The hydrological design element of the culvert was quite complicated, requiring that a 1/10-size model be built to test the hydrology aspects of the water flow and energy dissipation, tested in conjunction with the CSIR. The Adventure Golf clubhouse has also had to be relocated to accommodate the culvert, and several of their holes realigned to accommodate the new entrance. In addition main gas reticulation and mobile phone towers have also been moved.
After applications to the council and traffic impact studies, a much-needed traffic light is being proposed for the Cross Street entrance to the development. When entering from Cross Street, a future shopper will be diverted to the top right hand side of the parking area, led down via slowing traffic circles to the parking bays, to finally intersect with the access from Republic Road.
The entrance from Republic Road past the back of Pick 'n Pay is being widened in order to visually enhance the access to this previously unutilized parking, while plans are afoot to provide a dedicated loading area to Pick 'n Pay to resolve the current interaction between delivery trucks and the public. Loading bays will be provided at the back of the restaurants, restricted and demarcated for trade only, designed to separate deliveries to existing tenants from public parking, thus camouflaging the current 'back of house' appearance.
The building work on the facades has been scheduled in various phases, the first being the North Western corner undertaken as a prototype facade for the rest of the scheme. According to Richard Bovell, project manager "The challenges of the actual construction are not complicated, what is more difficult is the interface with the available space, operating tenants and the public. Working in the tight confines of the existing boardwalk while the lake is being filled, you have to be aware of safety at all times and this requires continuos hands on supervision. The mindset of the contractors has had to be addressed with regard to their approach to general building sites, as this is in fact a shopping centre with a building component". Further facades are being treated in phases determined by tenant relocations, expansions and refurbishment's, with several existing tenants such as Pick 'n Pay, Scrooge Diner and Mr Price expanding their operations.
The construction programme is progressing according to schedule, with the central area scheduled for completion by the end of October 2003, excluding the relocation of the market and home zone, scheduled for completion by Easter 2004. "Our biggest challenge to date has been that this is not a green field site. The extent of the refurb is huge, nothing is out of public view and it is impossible to barricade the large areas off. The quantum of civil works and base infrastructure is extremely large compared to other projects, considering that the lake area is nearly as large as the entire shopping centre itself". says Richard. "Once the landscaping aspects start it really signifies the completion of this phase and will render a pleasurable environment. When planting begins it is instant gratification, and we look forward to commencing this in winter with the relocation of many large trees to the site and the main planting following in Spring".
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