Rosebank ordered to lose continental 'vibe'

Posted On Friday, 25 October 2002 10:01 Published by
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The continental, trendy vibe of Rosebank is set to disappear following this week's shock Johannesburg High Court ruling that orders certain sections of Rosebank Mall to be demolished.
The continental, trendy vibe of Rosebank is set to disappear following this week's shock Johannesburg High Court ruling that orders certain sections of Rosebank Mall to be demolished.

There has been shocked reaction from Rosebank cafe and restaurant owners and the public to the order that requires the mall, within the next two weeks, to knock down its new circular steel and glass entrance, to close down a new R1,5-million restaurant and to make its tenants remove tables and chairs from pavement areas.

Cradock Heights, a neighbour to the Rosebank Mall, this week won a demolition order following a finding by the judge that certain sections of the centre are in breach of a 1995 agreement, made with Cradock Heights, to redevelop the area.

Several restaurants will be affected such as Cranks, Sophia's, Nescafe, DeliFrance, Doug's Doughnut and Mimmo's.

In terms of the court order, placing tables and chairs in Cradock Avenue is in breach of the agreement with Cradock Heights as the walkway was intended exclusively for pedestrian traffic.

The court ruled that if Rosebank Mall (Pty) Ltd does not comply with the order by November 8, the sheriff can order demolition teams to do the job.

Cradock Heights claims that the entrance structure that straddles Cradock Avenue and the Clockwise Restaurant obstructs the flow of pedestrians and obscures pedestrians' view of Cradock Heights.

They argue that the alterations have ruined a line of sight that pedestrians using the Cradock Avenue walkway had of their building as well as that of the banks renting premises in the building. As a result, their 'shopfront' advantage on Cradock Avenue was damaged and the value of their property was severely diminished.

In his judgement, Judge NJ Coetzee ruled that Cradock Heights was suffering damage as a result of the mall's illegal alterations. Shocked restaurant owners claim that removing seats from the pavement will not only harm their businesses by significantly reducing their number of customers, but will destroy the new continental atmosphere of Rosebank.

'Rosebank was in a severe state of decline before the new developments around the mall. Now it is buzzing at all times of day and night. This ruling is going to destroy it again,' said an owner.

'Mad dog' Eric, owner of Cranks, who would not reveal his surname, said from a business point of view that the order was bad news. He accused the mall of not informing tenants of the court action that led many of them to invest thousands of rands in their businesses - money they now stand to lose.

John Bailey of Doug's Doughnuts said it would not affect his business too much as he catered for the take-away market, 'But it is definitely going to affect the outdoor vibe of Rosebank.'

Charles Ryan, director of Property Fund Managers, the management company which owns the Rosebank Mall, said the decision would be appealed.

'In the appeal, we will argue that we have acted within our rights,' he said.

The mall's objective in establishing pedestrian flows with other properties in the precinct was to accommodate pedestrians who wanted walking areas that were welcoming, lively and customer-friendly.

'We do not believe that people frequenting Rosebank want barren, paved areas with a few benches as granted by the court,' Ryan said.

Surveys show that making the area into a pedestrian zone had improved business for shopowners. They indicate that in August this year parking was 48 percent up on a year ago and pedestrian traffic was at 866 000 - 20 percent higher than the two previous months. Turnover was up by about 22 percent.

The area's popularity was also causing retailers to open their stores on Saturday nights in addition to Sunday trading, Ryan said.

'The removal of tables and chairs will severely damage the new, vibrant shopping experience,' he said.

Publisher: Saterday Star
Source: Anna Cox

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