One of the most iconic attractions on Cape Point’s tourism route, Imhoff Farm’s renovation and restoration work on the 277-year-old farmstead is progressing well.
With several new retail offerings and attractions set for completion in Spring this year, the farmstead and its historic Werf (farmyard) are being sensitively revived to incorporate new additions which will position Imhoff Farm as a unique retail and commercial destination in the Western Cape.
The second phase of redevelopment – which started in mid-2019 – will introduce a goat tower, stables, a paddock, restrooms, ample parking, a relocated petting farm and a local craft beer taproom.
More than five years in the planning, the popular family and tourist destination has been refocussed as an integrated retail, leisure and work destination which offers a new customer-experience and tenant mix relevant and convenient for the South Peninsula’s locals and visitors.
Gerhard van der Horst, managing Director of Red Cliff Property, the owner-developers, comments:
“Rather than a touristic show farm or wine estate catering mostly for tourists and day visitors, that shuts down at night and low-season, we want to provide locals a retail destination which serves their daily needs and offers a contemporary and convenient hub for socialising and entertainment”.
The adaptive reuse of historic buildings is common in cities like Cape Town, but it is not easy to re-imagine a Cape farmstead to incorporate its historic buildings sensitively into practical retail spaces which are commercially attractive and viable. Requiring a long-term vision and innovation, it is something that is not new to the owners who are the custodians of Imhoff Farm and have been for more than one hundred years.
“We take our responsibility to retain the farm’s sense of place very seriously and have consulted with architects, historians, designers and local stakeholders to ensure that the farm can continue to grow with the needs of our community while meeting the necessary environmental and historical requirements,” explains Van der Horst.
The historic Werf remains at the centre of the commercial activity with new buildings sensitively complementing existing structures. Like the new restroom block which employs a simplified Cape vernacular in keeping with that of the original out-buildings. Situated just outside the farmyard, it seamlessly blends into the visual narrative of the old Werf and its buildings.
The architectural heritage components (including the original Manor House, Werf and some out-buildings) have all been carefully restored and freshly re-painted to highlight the heritage elements and architectural details with white-trim. The choice of lime wash used to paint the complex is a natural, biscuit colour and not the common white expected on a Cape Dutch fam.
Van der Horst says the reason for this is two-fold: “Firstly it is practical as it shows less dirt and dust and secondly some significant heritage buildings like the Castle of Good Hope are painted in a similar colour to reduce the glare and heat from the African sun. It makes for a softer and cooler Werf which on the coastline in Kommetjie can get blindingly bright in summer.”
Apart from the heritage implications, redeveloping a tourism-landmark comes with other challenges.
“As custodians of the property, we have to think about the commercial viability in the long term. It is simply not responsible to preserve it as a museum, heritage, or tourist destination – it has to be accessible and relevant to our immediate community and anticipate the needs of future generations. We are creating a commercial hub for local and entrepreneurial businesses which in turn will stimulate job creation, boost the local economy, and build a more sustainable future for Kommetjie and its sister villages”, says Van der Horst.
“Despite the current Covid-19 restrictions around travel we believe that multi-generational travel will remain a key trend in the next decade and Imhoff Farm remains the family-friendly destination it’s loved for – now just offering a wider choice of experiences.”
The existing restaurants have revived their offerings with new menus planned for the season. The new taproom – collaboration between Lakeside Brewing Co, a local craft beer produced in Kommetjie and Blue Water Cafe promises to be a first of its kind in the South Peninsula. With a shaded deck overlooking part of the Werf it is poised to become a hit.
Wine-lovers will have to wait for the 2022 season before sampling the first Imhoff Farm vintage from its recently planted two hectares of vineyards. Hopes are high to bottle a Methode Cap Classique which will capture the Kommetjie terroir of Imhoff Farm.
For those interested in browsing the shops situated in the old silo, blacksmith’s forge, and milking sheds, two new clothing and apparel stores have recently made the farm home.
The first of four office pavilions are currently being constructed with completion set for early in the new year. Once completed the office space will become home to Red Cliff Property and other local based businesses – offering A-grade offices with a unique rural aspect which should make going to the office post-Covid a pleasure. This part of the farm is adjacent to a site earmarked for residential development of which the public participation process kicked off in July this year.
“Our long-term vision for Imhoff Farm is to make it possible for multigenerational family interactions by having integrated work, live, “play” and retirement clusters. So your kids can visit their grandparents on the way home from school and parents can pop home from the office pavilion for lunch (or a surf), or pop into the office for a meeting. , Then visit the Werf for a drink after work and meet your family for dinner. The lifestyle we want to create is one of inclusion, family and convenience – all set within the rural environment of Imhoff Farm” concludes Van der Horst.