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Cape Town -
Knock it down, Green Point ratepayers told the city’s planners at the first public information meeting about ways in which the Cape Town Stadium could earn its keep.
With the stadium losing money at a rate of almost R40 million a year, the best option would be to demolish it, at a cost of R20m, so that the City of Cape Town could recover its costs within three months.
This was one of the many suggestions that those who object to the plans to rezone the stadium precinct to allow for income-generating commercial activity proposed.
But Geoff Underwood of Planning Partners, the team responsible for submitting and managing the land use applications, said demolition was not an option.
“The costs of demolishing this facility are enormous. It does not form part of our brief. We are here to make this wonderful facility work, not to knock it down.
About 100 residents and interested parties attended Wednesday night’s meeting at the stadium, saying they were concerned about the implications of the commercial activities being considered.
David Polovin, chairman of the Green Point Common Coalition, said: “
We are waiting with bated breath, but it’s only when Pandora’s Box is opened that we will know the impact.”
Underwood said: “The City of Cape Town has had to cover the financial shortfall since it took over operation of the stadium. The controllable costs of the stadium are about R52m a year. The income is about R13m. We as ratepayers face a considerable shortfall.”
But he would not hazard an estimate of how much income any development could generate. “I am not a business analyst, I am a town planner. My role is to set up the zoning rights. However, I can say every single additional rand generated out of this process is a rand less that needs to be put into the city, and a rand more that can be used for improving service delivery.”
He said the city was doing a business plan analysis to find ways of making the stadium more sustainable. The idea was to amend the zoning and environmental conditions that restricted commercial activity at the stadium so that it could generate funds.
Underwood said the area being considered for zoning changes was only about 17 hectares. Several approvals for the site were already in place.
The business plans include proposals for commercial office suites, mixed retail, third-party restaurants, contract parking, tourism and non-event related commercial activities.
“If you start looking inside the building, there are empty spaces that are tailor-made for offices and there are removable panels which create opportunities for coffee shops or other retail outlets,” said Underwood.
A mixed-use building on the Granger Bay Boulevard side could be built and used for parking, offices, a sports science centre or a hotel. This site is currently zoned as a public open space. This building would not be higher than eight storeys.
One resident asked why the city needed to build yet another structure when there was already plenty of space within the stadium.
But Underwood said the focus was on improving the economic sustainability of the stadium with the cross-subsidisation of another building. The development of the Granger Bay Boulevard site would improve the income stream for the city, he said.
Underwood said that no applications had been submitted yet. He said there were no plans to “tamper with the Green Point Urban Park”.
Carmen du Toit, of Environmental Planners
said, “The intention is to go public with the draft reports in the first quarter of 2014.”
The final reports are expected to be completed by the middle of next year.