City of Cape Town social housing project hits another stone wall

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Malusi Booi.
Malusi Booi.
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  • The Salt River Market site that has been earmarked for mixed-use social housing, has hit another snag. 
  • Social housing company Communicare proposed to buy the 1.7 hectares Salt River Market site, valued at R144 million, for a mere R1.8m to build a R715m high-rise building.
  • According to Communicare’s CEO Anthea Houston Communicare has not yet been contracted to develop the property. 

The City of Cape Town’s flagship mixed-used social housing project at the Salt River Market site has hit another snag, with no clear indication who will be driving the project to erect more than 800 social housing units there.

The site that was earmarked for social housing nearly four years ago but, according to Communicare CEO Anthea Houston, they have had no communication from the City about the development of the property.

Communicare proposed to buy the 1.7 hectares of land, valued at R144 million, for R1.8 million, so as to build a R715-million high-rise building.

Houston stressed that they too were waiting for clarity on the way forward. 

READ | Cape Town taxi operator shot dead a day after ceasefire agreement

"The intention is to develop over 850 housing opportunities for residents of Cape Town. Communicare has not yet purchased the property from the City of Cape Town.

"Communicare is not aware of the reason for Council delaying the development of the site. Council recently requested further revisions to the development concept which we have attended to," she said.

Houston added they had engaged with the City on an ongoing basis for the past nine years, since Communicare's successful bid to develop the site back in 2013.

The recommendations for the development of social housing in Salt River were sent back to the City's portfolio committee in 2018 to investigate.

READ MORE | Cape Town's Salt River Market rezoned for mixed development

This unleashed the ire of advocacy groups who accused the City of blocking the project.

Eventually in 2018, the council resolved to release the Salt River Market to Communicare for a mixed-used development.

According to the City, the Salt River project is now nearing the construction phase.

Report

Last week, during a human settlement’s portfolio committee meeting, a report was tabled on social housing’s quarterly reports.

In a progress report from September last year the City said in its report: "[The] Department is currently meeting with Communicare to confirm if they will be able to implement the project or if we should appointment one of the City’s Social Housing Partners to take over the implementation of the Social Housing part of the project."

In the progress comments from July this year, the City said the Large Projects Committee has advised that the site must be developed as a Mixed Used and Mixed-Income development. 

"Communicare has revised the scheme and awaiting to present it to the Large Projects Committee before implementation. The Department is also planning for the relocation of the current  informal settlement on the site." 

ALSO READ | Social housing: What if we can't pay the rent? ask Salt River families

Mayoral committee member for human settlements Malusi Booi said, between the current 2021/22 and 2023/24 financial years, the allocated capital budget for City's human settlements projects was approximately R3.3 billion.

He added that of the R3.3 billion, almost R2 billion was expected to be spent on formal subsidy housing, while approximately R1,3 billion was earmarked for informal housing and new accommodation types to address growing informality.

"Social housing, as part of the suite of affordable and subsidy opportunities, and as a means to alter apartheid spatial planning, cannot be viewed in isolation," Booi said.

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