Cape Town - The historic St Monica’s old age home in Bo-Kaap is up for auction after the developer who acquired the property pulled out “because of tough economic times”.
However, there are concerns that the recent proclamation of the area as a heritage site is driving away developers, and estate agents have warned it could impact on property prices.
According to the developer, Julian Reynolds, the decision to let go the property came amid tough economic conditions, but the change in status of the area had impacted the decision to auction. “The development has a lot of potential. Our main issue is that from a financial perspective our company is under enormous pressure.”
Reynolds said the community wanted a sensitive development and they had been trying to keep up with that request.
“We have been trying to develop and we have gone through the whole heritage process and our intention was never to demolish the property, but only part of it,” he said.
Developers initially intended to demolish the building. Netcovax developers, looking to begin construction at the site, made an application to Heritage Western Cape to determine the historic significance of some of the buildings that were older than 60 years. Initially the home was supposed to be earmarked for social housing but instead the City decided to dispose of the property.
Former mayco member for
transport and urban development Brett Herron, who is now a member of the Good party, has requested
the public protector to investigate the sale of the home.
Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association chairperson Osman Shabodien said: “Someone must tell us the truth. This home is a heritage site and we need to know what’s going on. I believe that the reason why the developer decided to abandon this development is because of the heritage staus and they are well aware of the community’s stance when it comes to development.”
Rob Vanlierde, of Robshaw Property group, said: “In the short term this will hamper economic growth as it means less investment in the area.
“Developments generally add retail and commercial space that brings economic prosperity to an area.”
He said developers moving into the area were wary of upsetting residents.
“They don’t want to take the risk of upsetting the residents in the area after what happened with the last development in the Bo-Kaap.
“It’s very possible that the area being declared a heritage site has thrown their plans off,” he said.
Jawitz Properties’ Herschel Jawitz said: “People have to remember that developments have the potential to enrich the value of the area.”