Building concerns

2018-10-30 06:01

As Communicare has started with their development projects at one of their properties, some sections of the community have raised concerns.

For the past year, Communicare has been announcing their plans to develop and revamp the facilities to develop more housing as part of their business model to cross-subsidise affordable housing through market developments

Construction work started early this month at Musgrave Park in Diep River.

Most work is taking place in the open spaces, not affecting the existing 369 apartments. It has come to light that they will be adding 138 units which will be rented out at market value.

Michelle Matthee, the stakeholder relations manager at Communicare, says: “This included sharing the plans for the demolition of the garages and hall. A new recreational facility will be built for tenants to use and for Vulamathuba, our social development arm, to run its various programmes for tenants.

“We are upgrading the painting and exterior of all the existing buildings at Musgrave Park, re-paving all the walkways, adding water-wise landscaping with benches and rest areas, as well as a dedicated play area for the children. Unfortunately, there is always some disruption during any construction work,” Matthee explains.

She goes on to say: “This is the first of several redevelopments of Communicare’s existing properties as the organisation reinvests in its aging buildings and increases the number of rental opportunities available in the city.”

She says they had numerous engagements with residents prior to the commencement of construction work, with one such event having taken place on Thursday 18 October when residents were given an opportunity to comment so their concerns could be addressed­.

“At this stage we are trying to give preference to the elderly and disabled in allocating parking bays that are closer to their units during construction. We are trying our best to make sure all tenants are accommodated while the new bays are being built.”

This follows complaints by some of the residents who say that though they support the idea of developing and upgrading the facility, they are not happy with how things are being run.

They say they have been inconvenienced and the place has now been turned into a normal residential institution and is no longer a retirement home as they found it to be many years ago when they applied for accommodation.

They say the way things have turned out, to them it feels like the facility is now just their “waiting place for death” instead of being a “home away from home”.

One resident says she is worried now because she has been living there for more than 20 years and has seen lots of changes taking place.

“Before, you needed to be a pensioner to apply, but now there are couples staying with families here. Services are no longer the same and the quality of living has become poor.

“If we have started paying for water now, despite the monthly R2300 rent and electricity, what else is coming? We also pay R82 a month for parking bays.

“We are not even using these parking bays now but they took our money knowing they would not be accessible. What is that?

“There is no-one permanent to even help fragile old people help. Life is difficult in here,” saysMatthee. 

She says if she had family to go to, she would leave the place.

Another resident says she has been in the residence for more than five years. She says although the revamping and development of the properties is a good thing, she is concerned that there will be no peace and space for elderly people to socialise.

“They are taking away the space we used for socialising. Even now we are suffering without the hall they demolished. We cannot take walks around because there is construction everywhere and residents are forced to park anywhere.”

Residents used to hold regular markets in the hall and they would walk in the park and on the walkways to get some exercise.

Matthee says these are temporary inconveniences while the work is being done. The overall work is expected to be completed by December next year; however, some facilities such as the parking bays will not take that long.

She says Communicare does not have, nor previously had, any old-age homes.

“We are trying our best to make sure all tenants are accommodated while the new bays are being built. All tenants who are paying for a parking bay have been allocated a new bay temporarily during construction. When the construction is complete, the parking bay numbers will be assigned and tenants will receive an amendment to their lease stating their updated parking bay number.”

Explaining reports about the incentives offered to tenants, she says this happened earlier this year for tenants at a variety of complexes on a voluntary basis. She confirms there are cuurently 13 vacant units.

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