Property Flash


Boxwood Property Fund’s conversion of the Picbel Arcade, a former mall, on Strand Street Cape Town, has proven to be a strong success, CEO Rob Kane says.

The shopping centre is now a multi-use building called the FELIX which fits in well with modern commercial property trends. As South African landlords battle to attract large multinationals and to get sizable companies to rent swathes of rentable area especially in offices, many buildings are being converted to be mixed-use focused.

The FELIX is bordered by Strand Street and Waterkant Street, in the heart of the Cape Town central business district (CBD), and is the latest node to experience regeneration, says Kane. 

The building comprises 10 000 m² of office space, 5 000 m² of retail convenience space and 882 parking bays. It also has an atrium, a boxing gym and braai facilities. It is expected to become a 4-Star Green Rated Building once it has operated for a few months.

“The upgrades we have done are attracting tenants. After many years of neglect, the revamp of Picbel, now renamed The Felix is complete. The work included all facades, the three office towers, two large atria and all common areas. The redeveloped building offers vibrant, tasteful space. Since its completion in April, we have signed 2 tenants for 700 m² and 300 m². We track traffic volumes into the city and clearly tenants are now coming back to their offices. We have noticed that they are looking for something out of the ordinary, and a softer environment that is more comfortable for their worker,” says Kane

The Felix has also been lauded for the murals used in it and its aesthetic design. The building has enticing on street views which add to the rejuvenation of the CBD.

Head of asset management, Sarah Divaris, says that each art piece has a different story behind it.

“We generally provide the artist with a colour palette and preferred artistic style. Beyond that, we believe in the artist having artistic licence when it comes to their murals,” says Divaris.

“Boxwood has worked with a number of artists. Our two latest developments, The Felix and The Box, have murals by created Ashwin Peterson. Every year we hold a student design competition with interior design school, Design Time. One of the competition winners created a design for the Felix that incorporated a five-story high mural on one on the internal walls. This sparked the initial inspiration for the mural. The final design was a collaboration between myself and Ashwin, created using a colour palette and style that complements the building’s bold new look and feel,” she says.

Signage is also highly important for Boxwood’s buildings and brands.

“At Boxwood, we take pride in turning tired existing buildings into modern spaces with bold and quirky design elements. A large part of this involves changing the perception of the building and this starts with the first impression – the name, the façade and streetscape. This is why signage, branding and modernization of our streetscapes is high on our priority list,” Divaris says.

Alistair Anderson

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