Iconic landmark's future in balance

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good hope centre done INLSA The Good Hope Centre faces demolition or an overhaul. Picture: David Ritchie

Cape Town - One of the city’s most recognisable landmarks, the Good Hope Centre, faces demolition or a complete overhaul, following concern about the increasing maintenance costs at the 36-year-old building.

The costs of maintaining the centre were discussed at a tourism, events and marketing portfolio committee meeting on Thursday. Increasing maintenance costs had councillors questioning the sustainability of the venue. Now the centre could be demolished or a private developer could build a five-storey block on top of the venue. Millions of rand have already been spent on repairs.

In 2008, repairs to the roof cost R5 million in that one year alone. R4m has also already been spent on fixing the air-conditioning system.

The state of affairs has prompted an investigation into the entire Good Hope Centre precinct. This will guide the city’s next step.

Councillors said the city needed to start looking at alternatives.

The committee has asked officials for a full study on the feasibility of different uses for the centre.

The city will have to appoint a contractor for roof repairs in this financial year. And the total amount is not yet clear. Seats in the mezzanine also have to be fixed at a cost of R200 000. It will also cost R500 000 to replace the stage in the main hall.

Upgrades to the air-conditioner, electrical network and public address systems are also needed. And another R500 000 is needed for additional maintenance.

After the meeting, Felicity Purchase, a member of the committee, said a complete study on the most sustainable way forward for the centre was needed.

Purchase said a proposal to build on top of the venue had been mooted a few years ago. In this idea, through a partnership with the private developer, a number of storeys would be built on the top of the centre.

“I envisage that you could have five floors above it and in that way, the tenant pays income to the city or takes over the management,” she said.

This way, the original building would still be available for city residents to use for events.

Grant Pascoe, mayoral committee member for events, tourism and marketing, said the committee wanted an investigation into the precinct around the centre. This would guide the decision whether demolishing or selling the centre would be best.

Yesterday’s report before the committee said if no funding for repairs became available, it would “result in the further deterioration of this ageing infrastructure”.

“It will become too costly to maintain,” warns the report.

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Cape Argus

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