After a delay of more than a year, contracts have been signed for Cardiff's showpiece city-to-waterfront Bute Avenue boulevard, masterplanned by David Mackay's Barcelona-based practice mbm.
Work on the planned tree-lined dual carriageway has been held up by protracted negotiations between Welsh government officials, Cardiff Bay Development Corporation and Railtrack over the proposed light-rail link that formed an integral part of the original concept. These talks have been discontinued, until such time as the National Assembly can decide on a way forward.
The £55 million project is being undertaken by Citylink (Cardiff), a pfi joint venture between property company mepc and construction engineers Norwest Holst, with debt financing from Japanese and Scottish banks. Under the contract signed last week, Citylink will receive twice-yearly payments from the government over 25 years. Originally intended to be completed in time for this autumn's Rugby World Cup games in Cardiff, the road is now expected to be finished in early 2001. It will connect the city centre's St Mary Street with the waterfront, ending at a piazza housing the Rogers- designed National Assembly building and the ptp-designed Wales Millennium Centre.
Described by cbdc's chief executive Michael Boyce as 'a continental-style boulevard on the grand scale', the mile-long scheme will include 50,000m2 of offices, shops and restaurants around a new public square and 300 new houses, to be built along Bute Avenue by Wimpey Homes and Beazer Homes, both already committed to housing developments on several sites at Cardiff Bay.
The first phase will include the building of the road and Bute Square, together with construction of a new office building on the square and some 40 new roadside houses. Later phases will include leisure and retail developments and further house building and are forecast to bring in investments totalling £65 million. Design work for the first phase of the commercial development is being undertaken by Nicholas Hare Architects, instructed by mepc.
Bute Avenue represents the final significant act in cbdc's life; it is to be wound up next April. Boyce says that the new road will complete the corporation's mission to reconnect the city and its waterfront. 'It will be one of the key landmarks underlining Cardiff's status as a maritime city of international importance.'