Old building gets new coat

2015-05-05 06:00
An Albert Road property is being left to fall into disrepair, locals say.

nicole mccain

An Albert Road property is being left to fall into disrepair, locals say. PHOTO: nicole mccain

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Changes are on the cards for a heritage building in Salt River.

The property has been gathering dust and worse, according to residents.

On the market for four months, the Albert Road property is slowly falling apart and attracting rodents, says Salt River Ratepayers’ Association chairperson Warda Rahim.

The building was recently brought to her attention after strong winds nearly lifted metal roof sheets covering the sidewalk, she says.

And with only one tenant left at the property, two empty shops, which have not been cleaned, are attracting rats, Rahim says.

The property has been listed for R2.4m and retains many original Victorian features, says estate agent Mark Clench.

Built in 1899, the building consists of three shops and covered back courtyards.

The property has been identified by the City of Cape Town as a Grade III A heritage resource, says Johan van der Merwe, mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning.

“This means that the building has a high local heritage significance. It is a single-storey shop dating from 1899. It is a very good architectural example with very fine Victorian-style detailing,” he says.

Property owner Ian Smith says he bought this building few years back out of concern the “area was losing its heritage”, as older buildings were being renovated and losing their old features, he says.

Smith completed renovations, but says managing the property has been a struggle ever since.

“We have since had a number of foreigners who rented and simply did not pay rent,” he says.

“We have been struggling to have them evicted and it has taken us eight months to evict the tenant. They owe us over R50 000 in unpaid rent and water.”

Bad tenants have disconnected electricity meters or broken the plate glass windows, which have left Smith with a bill of over R25 000.

A local business owner, who did not wish to be identified, says the property has a negative impact on business.

“The one shop door is slightly ajar and is infested with rats. You can see the rats running in and out,” she says.

“It’s very dirty. The tenants moved out and just left it like that. You can’t own a property and just leave it like that. You have to look after your investment.”

Smith says the rodents are a result of a neighbouring tenant, who “without necessary permits started to grind cassava in the back of the property” .

Smith immediately contacted a pest control service and the tenant has since left, he says.

Run-down properties are a common problem along the stretch, says Rahim.

“In general buildings are not maintained and are left to run down,” she says.

Trading also often takes place on the pavement and these factors have left residents “up in arms”.

“We’d like landlords to work together with residents so that we can improve the area and bring more business to Salt River,” she says.

However, the property will be undergoing renovations in the next few months, Smith says.

“The building also had the most beautiful steel poles to support the veranda outside, which were knocked out of the ground and stolen by addicts in the area.

“I’ve now purchased a similar cast iron pole and am having more manufactured to keep the features and heritage of the building intact,” he says.

A team of builders will also be on site from this week to remove a steel roof, which was flagged by the association as a concern, and the building is going to be painted in antique grey and white, Smith says. The gables will also be restored to the originals.

“The building urgently has to be taken care of, and you will see a transformation over the next few weeks,” Smith promises

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