Residents say no to Bo-Kaap development

Construction has started on this luxury mixed-use building in Bo-Kaap.

Bo-Kaap residents are angry that construction has started on a building they have objected to, saying the developer and the City of Cape Town failed to consult with them before going ahead.

The construction, which started this month, is set for completion in early 2018. It will be a mixed-used building with a shopping centre and 117 luxury flats, some of which have already been sold. A one-bedroom unit is going for more than R2 million while a two- bedroom is just shy of R5.5m. The priciest unit is R14m.

The City approved the building last year despite a petition from residents opposing it (“Red flag for Bo-Kaap build,” Atlantic Sun, February 5 2015).

Bo-Kaap residents are worried the developer is not taking the necessary safety precautions, and they argue the firm should be hiring local people to meet the dire need for jobs in the area. The say the new development is part of a gentrification process making it impossible for local people with a connection to the area spanning generations to buy there.

Khalil Kathrada, whose mother lives opposite the development, fears safety codes are being ignored.

“There have been no signs or barriers put up. There is also a problem with the dust (that comes from the construction site). Big business doesn’t care about the people; they don’t care about safety. You would not see this happening in an area like Sea Point,” he complained.

Adiel Zaindeen also lives opposite the site and agrees with Mr Kathrada. There was heavy machinery on site, but no safety barriers or warning signs had been put up. ”There should be proper safety regulations in place. You can’t start a job with heavy machinery without proper safety.”

Atlantic Sun visited the site on Wednesday September 14 and there were no safety signs or warnings visible

Mr Zaindeen said the developer had not consulted with him before going ahead with the construction. “I didn’t know that there was going to be a major development. I can’t even afford a house in Bo-Kaap anymore as a working-class person. Our rates have quadrupled in the last few years. It is becoming difficult to afford.”

Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers’ Association chairman, Osman Shaboodien, said they weren’t aware that construction had started on the site, but they would investigate the complaints. There had been no consultation from the company, he added.

He said the development had been listed as the Cape Town CBD and not as the Bo-Kaap.

“The City of Cape Town is actively supporting gentrification into our area because of their policies. This is why we objected to the building last year. We appealed the decision but they decided to go ahead.”

Arnold Maresky, of Ingenuity Property, said 117 Strand Street has 117 flats, 5 500m2 of premium-grade offices and 5 200m2 of retail space. “The construction process will provide work for hundreds of people from all areas and backgrounds. The ongoing operations, retailers and office users will also provide employment opportunities.

“To the extent that local skills are available and there are those willing to seek employment opportunities and be trained with appropriate skills, I don’t see any reason why we won’t consider local people. I would welcome uplifting the local people and encourage our service providers and contractors to do the same.”

Asked about consultation with residents, he said: “We have had no contact with local representatives for some time. I would welcome constructive dialogue with the locals in order to create a harmonious environment for all.”

Mr Maresky added: “The development of 117 On Strand is set to become a landmark scheme for the city. Its design is in keeping with the changes to the area and the development incorporates the vibrancy of this wonderful part of our city. It’s important that progress is sensitive to its surrounds as well as as making an enduring contribution to its environment. We believe the outcome will be a positive one.”

Atlantic Sun sent Mr Maresky follow-up questions after residents raised the safety issues on Monday, but we were unable to get a response from him by the time this edition went to print. However, Ward 115 councillor Dave Bryant, said a building inspector had been sent to the site on Sunday but everything appeared to be in order. “I haven’t received a full report back, but in the case where something is found to be done outside of regulation then a cease work order notice will be issued.”

It was important to note, he said, that the building was within its zoning rights. “The fringes of the Bo-Kaap have different zoning schemes to the mostly residential area. It is important that property owners still have rights.”

Johan van der Merwe, mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, said the the City’s former Spatial Planning, Environment and Land Use Management Committee (SPELUM) had approved the development in May 2015, subject to various conditions.

“It is also noted that the proposal received heritage impact approval from Heritage Western Cape. In line with the above approval, a building plan was recently approved for the site.”

He said the objection to the development had been “responded to in the report to Spelum” and that the committee’s consideration of the matter had been “open and transparent”, with the decision being made public.

Mr Van der Merwe said the City had felt the development was of an acceptable scale, with adjustments to minimise possible visual impacts, and it would support “inner-city densification” and the public transport system. Traffic and heritage aspects had also been considered, he said.