Empty mall irks residents

Residents in the posh Pretoria suburbs of Moreleta Park and Wingate Park are at war – and their target is a half-built shopping mall.

They say the unfinished mall is a threat to the value of their property and is occupied by vagrants.

The multibillion rand development ground to a halt two years ago after its builder, Capicol, ran out of funds.

The mall was due to open in August 2011. It was supposed to house 300 shops, among them luxury Italian fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna, which was the first to announce its intention in 2008 to lease a shop in the building.

A five-star hotel was planned as part of a 130 000 square metre complex, and the developers had promised a R65 million upgrade to the adjacent Delmas Road and De Villebois Mareuil Drive intersection to calm traffic.

Seventy-eight homes were demolished to make way for the development.

But now it’s an empty shell.

Capicol director Paul Kyriacou told City Press this week they were uncertain whether construction would resume this year because his company was still searching for directors to invest an estimated R1.5 billion to complete the mall.

“There’s no latest on this because of funds. There are no plans at this stage – everything is the same as it was when we stopped building because we were receiving funds from Sharemax Investments.

“There’s no change,” was all Kyriacou was prepared to say.

Capicol was one of many companies which received funds from Sharemax Investments, which lost millions of investors cash when its funds ran dry in 2010.

Homeowners who hoped the complex would bump up property prices in the area and investors are demanding answers about the development’s future.

Rita Aucamp, a councillor for the area, said she’d received many complaints from residents about vagrants who loiter around the empty building.

She said residents who had invested their life savings in the development had asked her to intervene.

“As the city council we can’t do anything about a private development but residents and investors who are pensioners, have asked me to intervene and get them the answers from the developers.

“Some of the investors have been forced to leave old age homes because they are unsure of whether their investments are safe.

“I have received lot of complaints about the building being an eyesore but there is nothing we can do and we don’t know exactly what is happening with that building. It is frustrating for everybody.”

Julian Wolfson, general manager of the Wingate Park Country Club – which is opposite the development – said: “We’ve had many meetings about the mall and discuss it every month.

“We’ve had complaints about illegal immigrants and vagrants who are living inside the mall. It is an eyesore and property prices will drop for sure. It would be best to complete the mall or turn it into residential flats but that probably won’t happen.”

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