A derelict building in Green Point is causing concern among neighbours who want the property developed rather than rotting and attracting vagrants and vermin.
Erf 606, 41 Cheviot Place, is approximately a hectare in area and has an abandoned Anglican church as well as a house that, according to neighbours, has been vacant for nearly a decade.
David Josephson, 62, moved into the neighbourhood in 2017 and saw that the dilapidated property was not being maintained. He is concerned that it is lowering the value of nearby properties.
“The main problem is security, the vagrants have entered this property, this house, they make fires and they just do as they please. There’s also an infestation of rats and this is not what we want in the neighbourhood, look at this building, it’s not something we want to look at” Mr Josephson said.
He claims that Craig Kaplan owns this property and that there were plans to build a seven-story apartment building that the residents were opposed to. He provided the Atlantic Sun with a series of emails he sent to the City of Cape Town on the property’s demise.
“The City of Cape Town and ward councillors have not responded positively and this lack of urgency has been going on for five years. We would like to see the property developed within the rules and regulations of this area, anything but this eyesore,” he said.
Jermaine Carelse, the spokesperson for the City’s Fire and Rescue Service, confirmed that there was a fire on the property on November 5.
“The incident was reported at 5.20pm and it is a derelict building and it is suspected a vagrant was responsible for the fire. However, the service managed to extinguish the fire before it caused any damages,” Mr Carelse said.
Sally-Ann Moinet, 67, has lived in Green Point for 33 years and remembers the property fondly when it was occupied by a family.
“We had sleepless nights after the fire happened. When someone comes to the property in the early hours of the morning, making a noise, making fires, it’s really unsettling. There are people that sleep on the property, they do drugs here and a guy once jumped over the fence into our yard with a fake gun but armed response was on the scene quickly, it’s stressful” said Ms Moinet.
“Ms Moinet says they have seen fire coming out of the chimney on more than one occasion and reached out to Mr Kaplan when the fire happened on November 5.
“We would like to see this property developed within reason, it has to be in sync with the neighbourhood, we don’t want to see a monstrous apartment block that goes up a few stories,” she said.
According to Stuart Burnett, chairman of the Green Point Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association’s Built Environment Committee, the Heritage Western Cape indicated in 2019 that a heritage impact assessment of the property was required.
“A heritage impact assessment has to be done and there is no indication that Mr Kaplan will do this. We had this discussion in 2019 regarding this assessment,” Mr Burnett said.
“There’s quite a few concerns regarding this property, it’s a fire risk, it’s a big fire risk and should not be left like this. There is someone cleaning up here once a month so that’s enough to say that this building is not abandoned, but the state of it is not good,” he said.
Michael Janse Van Rensburg, the CEO of HWC, says an application was submitted to Heritage Western Cape (HWC) in 2019.
“The structure on site is not a declared heritage site, but it is older than 60 years and thus protected in terms of section 34 of the National Heritage Resources Act,” Mr Janse Van Rensburg said.
“However, the application was not closed off as there are pending further requirements prior to HWC taking a decision on the matter,” he said.
Ian McMahon, the councillor for Ward 115, says the Problem Building Unit is aware of Erf 606 and he provided their response.
“The owner was contacted telephonically and he confirmed that he has someone doing maintenance and security at the property, unfortunately he is not in Cape Town and will only be available on Tuesday (November 21),” said Sean Newman, an inspector with the Problem Building Unit.
“The owner further confirmed that he is wanting to give his full co-operation and try his best to remedy the situation,” he said.
Mr Newman adds that a notice of inspection was issued and that on November 16 a man was busy cleaning and cutting back vegetation as well as barring up any access to the building.
Mr Kaplan, a design consultant, says the intention is to develop the property that is owned by Tresso Trading.
“You will see that the perimeter is well secured, and that the windows and openings are all boarded up.There is occasionally a trespasser who manages to break in, and the maintenance manager is immediately called in to ask them to leave,” Mr Kaplan says.
He says that a maintenance manager then secures the property again and that the area is cleaned every few months. He adds that they are complying with the Problem Building Unit.
“SRG (private security company) is paid monthly to patrol/ visit the property when called, and they have keys to the property,” he said.