George, on the Garden Route, is set to become the film mecca of Africa. Chinese investors have come on board to fund a multi-million rand development, known as Sallywood City.
It will boast a massive film studio to rival those in Hollywood, a Creative Arts university, a conference centre and business and residential premises. The developers say the new smart city will create thousands of jobs and attract even more business opportunities to the area.
The project was supposed to start 10 years ago, but with the recession at that time, the plans collapsed. It’s now been revitalised with a multi-million rand investment. Developers have already broken ground on the over 400 hectare property.
Projector coordinator, Fred Brown, says that the area will also be an educational, distribution and production site.
“This project was originally ‘Destiny Africa’ and we got to know the film industry people and they put us onto some developers that are very interested in developing the film industry in this area. At the moment; we are starting with the film industry, going up and constructing with the film industry. So it will also be the educational side, distribution and production side.”
With George being one of the fastest growing areas in the country, this project is envisioned as a futuristic smart city. Brown says that Sallywood City will be an area where one can live, work and play.
“Sallywood City would be an area that you can live, work and play in one specific area. Traditionally, George is a city where a lot of people work outside George. Many have clients overseas. If you look at George geographically, you just see residential houses and we’d like to bring a sustainable business driver to the area, which is the soft industry.”
The development will create 50 000 direct and 100 000 indirect jobs. George Mayor, Melvin Naik, says George is one of the fastest growing cities in South Africa.
“We’re one of the fastest growing cities in SA and with this new development coming to George, it means a lot to us. This is something we’ve been waiting for quite some time. If you just look at the unemployment rate we have here in George, this is going to make a massive dent in our unemployment rate in George itself.”
The municipality says it will fast track all applications by the developers to ensure that Sallywood becomes a reality.