Cape Town - Cape Town's Executive Mayor Patricia de Lille has given final approval for the development of a R1bn, multi-use development in Cape Town's CBD - between Riebeeck Square on Buitengracht and the historic Bo-Kaap neighbourhood.
The development is set to provide 4 000m² of retail space, lifestyle activities and 250 residential apartments. The building currently on the site houses a car dealership.
The developer of the property, Jose Rodrigues, told Fin24 it will target a Green Star rating by incorporating environmentally sensitive development and modern energy efficient technology. Construction could start in June or July this year. During the two-year construction phase he expects up to 500 direct and indirect jobs to be created.
Rodrigues emphasised the development will be fully aligned to the objectives of the City of Cape Town’s new spatial planning legislation and will help meet the residential demand of the CBD's growing population. The City of Cape Town predicts Cape Town will require an additional 500 000 new residential units by 2032, which equates to nearly 32 000 new units per year.
“The green light from the City follows an extensive public participation process and I believe our team has achieved a fine balance in designing a building with harmonious aesthetics that is respectful of heritage and meets the demands of a growing, world class city,” said Rodrigues.
The proposed development has since the onset been met with fierce opposition from the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association.
Osman Shaboodien, chair of the association, told Fin24 there has been a long battle to try and make the development "more acceptable" to the residents of the Bo-Kaap. He certainly is not happy with the approval of the development by De Lille and claims it is only welcomed by developers and the City Council.
"The building will have a major impact on the day to day living of the residents in Bo-Kaap. It will impact traffic, retail, offices and privacy - not to mention the environment, blocking sunlight, creating shadows and blocking our beautiful mountain view," said Shaboodien.
"Looking from Riebeeck Square it represents a massive fortress, totally out of character with its surroundings."
In his view, processes only work for "big developers" and "ordinary residents affected by it do not have a real say". He said the association is meeting on Monday to decide what steps to take next.
"We are disappointed, but not defeated," said Shaboodien.
Cannot stop development
Rodrigues, in turn, pointed out that the zoning of the site is in line with the kind of development he plans - in fact, the height of the building (18 storeys) is lower than was allowed for. The apartments will cater for a range of buyers. The design also allows for the building to "cascade" down on the side of the Bo-Kaap. There its height is only about six storeys.
Regarding a petition by Bo-Kaap residents opposing the development, Rodrigues said there was a normal public participation process with the window for comments even extended to 90 days instead of the required 30 days. He said he has met with representatives of the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association and explained to them that it would not be viable to start a redesign from scratch.
"In June last year a municipal tribunal was unanimous in favour of the development. The Bo-Kaap association then appealed and now the mayor has dismissed the appeal," said Rodrigues.
"My door is open to talk to the Bo-Kaap association and to engage. I think this development will make a positive contribution. Currently there is just a car dealership and the area has a very industrial look. Our development will bring opportunities to the area. People can come and live in the city. I hope the association will look back in years to come and be glad the development went ahead. The reality is you cannot stop development in the city."
He pointed out that the full bulk allowed for the development was not even used.
"We sacrificed significant bulk to cascade the building towards the Bo-Kaap so that it will not be like a tower on that side. It is only five to six storeys high on the Bo-Kaap side - no taller than the building next to our development," said Rodrigues.
He said a launch could take place by April and building start in June or July. It would be likely completed by the end of 2019. Price ranges for units could start from just over R1.5m.
Zara Nicholson, De Lille's spokesperson, told Fin24 the executive mayor has applied her mind to the decision.
"The parties may apply for a review of the decision in the high court,” said Nicholson.
An artist's impression of what the development could look like - cascading down on the Bo-Kaap side: