The public has until Wednesday September 16 to comment on a rezoning application for the derelict buildings at 192 Loop Street.
It is believed that the cottages, which used to house Ivory Room and Madame Zingara, date back to the 17th Century, and used to be part of the “old-style” Bo-Kaap houses.
The application is for rezoning the property; the potential removal of the palm trees in the heritage protection zone; and departures relating to the height of the proposed building and the consolidation of four sections the property is made up of.
The rezoning is to prepare for the demolition of the existing buildings except the façades, to develop a mixed-use, 15-storey building.
According to the plans submitted to the City, if approved, the site will be excavated to construct a four-level parking garage below ground level to accommodate 64 parking bays. Access to the underground-parking garage will be via Orphan Lane, which is a two-way public street. There will be commercial space on street level, incorporating the heritage façades, with flats above the retail space.
The site is in a state of disrepair after a fire broke out in 2006. It then suffered vandalism and is now used as a haven for drug peddling.
According to surrounding businesses, the site also attracts squatters, with fires, waste and vermin being a problem.
Another fire broke out three years ago, further damaging the premises.
It has since been put on the City’s problem building list, and, according the City’s Law Enforcement spokesperson, Wayne Dyason, the Problem Building Unit has been communicating with the owners, Spitzkop Karoo Properties.
“They have submitted plans to Heritage Western Cape and the City for approval. The matter is on hold till the outcome of their application is completed.”
The owner of Spitzkop Karoo Properties, Christian Corti, previously told the CapeTowner that they were in an ongoing battle with Heritage Western Cape to be granted a demolition order.
Ward councillor Dave Bryant said the City’s Problem Buildings Unit have done their best over the years to work with the owners, taking into account the derelict condition of the building and the outstanding application to renovate.
“The demolition of these buildings and their façades was something I personally have always been passionately opposed to. The owners appear to have now managed to come up with a design that protects and enhances the old buildings whilst offsetting this with additional bulk. We must always aim to achieve a realistic balance between protecting our architectural heritage and densifying the CBD.”
Meanwhile, surrounding businesses who spoke to the CapeTowner seem to have mixed feelings about the redevelopment of the site.
The owner of a neighbouring store, who has been trading there for 10 years, said he is happy that something is finally being done about the problematic site, which has been an eyesore since he had moved in. However, he said, he hopes the owners develop the site with heart, and not just put up a block of concrete.
Another neighbouring tenant said the site has been terrible to work near to, as people loiter and openly use drugs on the property. He also said he was relieved that the site would be cleaned up, but was not sure if he welcomed the development.
Mr Bryant said he hopes that the renovation and restoration of this site is able to begin as soon as possible. “The building has been a blight on this section of Loop Street for many years and after so much wrangling and unhappiness it’s great to see that the owners are fully committed to uplifting and improving this site. “
Heritage Western Cape did not respond to enquiries from the CapeTowner and we were not able to reach the owners.
Objections or recommendations can be lodged at email@example.com before or on Wednesday September 16.