Residents of Crawford are eager to know what is currently happening on the premises of the old Place of Hope, also known as the AW Baker House in Lawrence Road.
The four-storey building locked down and secured by AWL Developers is currently under construction for a new project set to benefit City Mission, a non-profit organisation in Cape Town.
“We are in the process of refurbishing the AW Baker House and converting it into 25 one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments. We are doing this in partnership with City Mission,” explains Andre Lord, the director of AWL Developers.
“The building was built in 1975 and was a hostel for coloured women. About 10 years later, the building was gifted to City Mission who leased it at minimal cost to a partner NPO named Place of Hope, serving as a refuge for abused women and children.”
He explains that over the years, the operation was not financially feasible and the building fell into disrepair.
“A few years ago, the City of Cape Town condemned the building and declared it uninhabitable. At the start of the year, AWL Developers and City Mission went into partnership and have begun to convert the building into 49 apartments. The new operation will now be known as Baker House.
“Phase one, which we are currently busy with, is a 25-apartment project and phase two is 24 apartments. Phase one will be done early in the new year when we will start renting the apartments to the public.
“The monthly cost to rent the apartments will start at an affordable cost of only R4500. This was a win-win situation for both parties involved in this project. City Mission will be a part shareholder and will derive benefit to sustain its transformational work in needy communities”
Lord says more than R6m is currently being invested in the project, with a lot more work still to be completed on the premises.
“All of the roofing and gutters had to be removed and replaced, and there was lots of reconstruction done inside the building. The walls were still quite strong and it was not necessary [for them] to be knocked down.
“Everything is falling into place and I am quite excited. The apartments come with a built-in stove and oven and there will be parking available on the premises too. To add, we are finishing off on the children’s play area and a children’s day-care which will also be available only to the tenants,” Lord adds.
“There is a lot of history to this building and we tried to not remove much of it. There is also still a bench on the property that was donated by then mayor Hazel Tyers. The bench will be relocated to the new kids’ communal play area and will be repainted,” he adds.
Val Kadalie, City Mission’s CEO, says the last time the premises were occupied was towards the end of last year.
“The families who lived here had to be removed and were placed in other places of safety across the city. This building would have taken a massive amount of resources to be bought and maintained in order to make it liveable again. There was no way City Mission would have been able to do this on our own.
“The point of this partnership was also to ensure that there would be a sort of income for the organisation to maintain our transformational work, which is under enormous pressure. This is part of our sustainability plan for the future as we run continuous projects for those in need.”
Kadalie adds AWL Developers have done work with the organisation in the past and assisted them with various projects. She thanked Lord for his assistance in keeping the building and its history alive.