Future status of the ’Litsha CBD

2017-02-23 06:00
Mkhululi Gaula

Mkhululi Gaula

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The Khayelitsha Community Trust (KCT) is primarily responsible for the development of the Khayelitsha Central Business District (CBD).

However, in order for this to be a success, the cooperation and willingness of the City of Cape Town Municipality is crucial as the landowner and cannot be overemphasized.

Many completed projects within the Khayelitsha CBD are a strong proof and product of this KCT – City development partnership which was borne through and cemented by both parties signing a Land Availability Agreement ceding development rights to KCT but still retaining land ownership in the hands of the local municipality.

Planned Projects

KCT has plans to develop a new mixed-use Mall on a 20 000m2 piece of land adjacent the existing KCT Mall.

The Trust has completed all related planning processes and secured two reputable retainers as anchors.

This is the outcome of an intensive procurement process that was openly followed and solely undertaken by the Trust.

The people of Khayelitsha have always clamoured for a closed Mall to counter the inclement weather Khayelitsha is exposed to. The new mixed-use Mall will be a closed shopping complex providing not just a different living experience to the local community but also a distinct mix of high-end retailers combined with local enterprises and seasoned home-grown entrepreneurs.

Unfortunately, progress on this development is being hampered by the slow pace in getting the land transferred from the City to the Trust. Despite all the performance delivery timelines being submitted to the City and presentations made to the local sub-council 10 officials on this project, the process of land release has been put on hold or suspended due to a purported view for the review of the land availability agreement. The City has unilaterally decided to suspend all transactions related to the release of land aimed for development by the Khayelitsha Community Trust.

KCT is accountable to the people of Khayelitsha hence the Trust Deed mentions the local community as beneficiaries of all proceeds by KCT.

The Trust has always communicated all its planned developments to the local community and further sought to obtain endorsement or support thereon through local radio announcements, annual general meetings, stakeholder engagements, etc. It is on this basis that this article seeks to report back to the community on where things stand at this juncture and possibly receive input on how best to move forward.

One other flagship project of the Trust is the housing development opposite Graceland. KCT recently completed the servicing of 368 sites on the piece of land bordering the Engen Garage along Spine Road & Walter Sisulu Road. The local community through employment and enterprise development opportunities benefitted on site works. However, once again the project is unable to move due to problems ascribed to the release of land by the City. The conveyancers responsible for release of the 10ha housing land were instructed by City officials to halt the transfer of the land to KCT until further notice even though a Land Sale Agreement was signed between KCT and the City. In fact, the housing land transfer process has taken more than four (4) years to be finalised and to-date has not yet been completed though the land transfer process for the new NGO Building – Isivivana Centre – took less than four (4) months to complete. Both projects were being facilitated by KCT and the City in compliance with the stipulations of the existing land availability agreement.

It does explicitly prove that where there is operational and political goodwill development initiatives can move at a faster pace cutting through all likely bureaucratic tendencies. Countless efforts have been made to the City’s Property Management Department and Sub-Council 10 officials to get the housing project as well as the Mixed-Use Mall development off the ground but all those approaches have been met with stiff resistance, if not lack of interest or apathy towards local economic development.

Economic imperatives

The City is mandated to create an enabling environment for development of local communities whether through accelerated service delivery or direct participation in local economic development hence cooperation and collaboration with community-based structures like KCT cannot be a personal choice or disfavour but an organisation-wide driving force. It is heartening to know that through interaction with established legal community entities like KCT positive results are always there for anyone to see tangibly. For example, the existing KCT Mall which is wholly owned and managed by the Khayelitsha Community Trust has always been 100% occupied and has never defaulted on its R84 million loan that was advanced by Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) since inception in 2005. In the past 5 years, KRetail – which is a subsidiary wholly owned by KCT – took over the facility management function in the Mall in order to prioritise contracting of various services to local entrepreneurs. To-date the cleaning service at the KCT Mall is being undertaken by a Khayelitsha-based provider, so is the security service, pest control, waste management, etc. Just in maintenance and repairs the KCT Mall has expended no less than R10 million on works that were delivered by local contractors on an as and when basis. Plans are afoot to take over the entire property management function of the KCT Mall which will bring to the table the much–needed skills transfer, job opportunities and supplier development benefits. The Mall is currently valued at R300 million and in 4 years-time KCT would have fully repaid its development loan debt to RMB and delivering to the community an asset worth that much. If there is no better story to tell, one doesn’t know what other expectations there are from a community-based structure.

In getting thus far cooperation and collaboration between the City of Cape Town and Khayelitsha Community Trust has always played a significant role and is highly commended and recommended going forward. However, much more needs to be done in inculcating a similar business ethos and empowerment values aimed at ensuring that people-centred economic gains are shared by all and the Khayelitsha CBD development is not perceived as a gold mine for a few selfish interests.

. Gaula is the chief executive officer of Khayelitsha Community Trust.

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