Scaled-down ‘lifestyle’ centre goes ahead

2010-07-16 00:00

A PROPOSED R80 million shopping centre near the Woodburn Rugby Stadium in Scottsville is set to go ahead — albeit on a smaller scale than initially planned — although the developer’s two-year battle with the Msunduzi Municipality is set to continue over a servitude.

Woodburn Boulevard will cover about 5 500 square metres instead of 6 500 square metres as initially planned because of a sewer pipe, which lies at the heart of the issue between Tony Stathakis of O + T Development in Pretoria and the municipality.

Stathakis, who has spent much of the last two years travelling between Pretoria and Pietermaritzburg to meet municipal officials, told The Witness that he is willing to “bend over backwards” in order to be allowed to build over the pipe.

However, the municipality insists the water and sanitation unit has a duty to protect its infrastructure and act in the best interest of council and the environment.

Acting water services manager Dhamendra Ragoonandan said the department has the full backing of the executive council (Exco).

Stathakis said the centre will generate more than 300 jobs, excluding other employment opportunities for car guards, maintenance workers and garden services.

Although final negotiations have not been completed, tenants will include Spar and other national retailers.

The tenant mix at the centre will be centred on grocery, lifestyle, restaurants and takeaways, as well as video outlets.

In terms of a recent council decision, Stathakis has been left with three options:

• The existing sewer main to be diverted and repositioned. In this way, no building will straddle the sewer. servitude. However, this will involve environmental approval — a potentially lengthy process;

• The replacement of the existing sewer main with a steel sewer main next to the existing sewer main where the proposed building will encroach. However, this also involves environmental approval — again a potentially lengthy process;

• The developer relocates or redesigns the proposed buildings to comply with existing servitudes.

Stathakis said they will follow the final route by reducing the size of the centre.

However, he added that this will mean that the development will be scaled down by 1 000 square metres to 5 500 square metres.

“It is the law and we have to abide by it. But this is to the detriment of both the scale of the development and the economy of Pietermaritzburg, as well as [lost] revenue for the municipality.

“Here is a property developer who wants to invest in Pietermaritzburg and partner with the city and invest R80 million toward a convenience shopping centre of note, a unique centre,” said Stathatkis.

“One would expect the council would ask, ‘What can we do to help you?’.”

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