Then, as now, development seems to be an unstoppable force, with Buitengracht Street set to undergo major changes. The City’s land-use policies for the area allow increased residential densities along existing and proposed public transport routes to ensure that these routes are viable, and identifies Buitengracht Street as a development route with active links to existing pedestrian walkways in the surrounding streets. The policy also seeks to intensify urban development around public open spaces to “activate” the spaces and encourage mixed use with residential property overlooking public spaces and pedestrian routes to make them safer. These are all factors cited in the motivation for a 250-apartment building. In a heritage statement compiled by independent heritage specialist Henry Aikman, there is recognition of the special significance of the Bo-Kaap. The development has been “stepped back” away from the Rose Street side and provides for a lot of activity at street level rather than the blank facades of the previous generation of industrial buildings.
In summary, the heritage statement argued that the development should be approved. “This part of the city is going through a transitional stage but it is still to some extent characterised by urban decay, vagrancy and crime, particularly in the side streets, lanes and peripheral streets. The introduction of new retail and restaurants in the area that are currently dead will contribute to the economic health of the area in general.”
The report also says that the substantial increase of residential accommodation may put pressure on the City to upgrade Riebeeck Square, which it says has been “neglected”. Apart from the jobs that will be created in the construction, the complex when completed will involve capital expenditure of close to R1 billion. The rates revenue for the first year is estimated at R910 000 in addition to bulk infrastructure contributions paid by the developer to the City of approximately R2 000 000.
The property developer, Jose Rodrigues, quoted on propertywheel.co.za, is upbeat about the new building. “We will completely transform the site which is currently occupied by a nondescript concrete edifice which functions as a car dealership. The green light from the City follows an extensive public participation process and I believe our team has achieved a fine balance in designing a building with harmonious aesthetics that is respectful of heritage and meets the demands of a growing, world class city.”
Rodrigues says the new development will create between 300 and 500 direct and indirect jobs during the two-year construction phase.
“The development will target a Green Star rating by incorporating environmentally sensitive development and modern energy efficient technology. Cape Town is a highly desirable destination for people to live work and play, and this development will meet the demand for inner-city living and lifestyle by offering an attractive and modern multi-use space that will become an asset to our city and the neighbouring community.”