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Mall wall must fall.

Posted On Monday, 28 October 2002 10:01 Published by
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Rosebank Mall has been ordered to knock down its new steel-and-glass entrance - a move that restaurants and shops believe could destroy newly revived business in the area.
By Michael Schmidt

Rosebank Mall has been ordered to knock down its new steel-and-glass entrance - a move that restaurants and shops believe could destroy newly revived business in the area.

Joburg High Court judge N J Coetzee ruled this week that the cylindrical steel-and-glass entrance to The Mall of Rosebank onto the Cradock Avenue pedestrian walkway and two new coffee houses, Café Nescafé and Clockwise, be torn down and all restaurant tables be removed from the walkway within two weeks.

If the mall's owners, Rosebank Mall Ltd, does not demolish it by November 8, the sheriff of the court could send in demolition teams with sledgehammers to do the job themselves.

The judge also ordered that the sidewalk tables, chairs and umbrellas of the Mimmo's pizzeria, and eateries DeliFrance, Doug's Doughnuts and Cranks be removed. Rosebank Mall plans to appeal the judgment.

The ruling follows a dispute between the mall and architect Stephen le Roith, who owns an office block next door to the mall named Cradock Heights that has an Absa Bank tenant facing Cradock Avenue.

According to a 1995 agreement struck between Cradock Heights and the mall, the redevelopment of the avenue - which was made partially pedestrian friendly - and the mall entrance could not intrude on shoppers' view of Cradock Heights's shop front.

Le Roith, who splits his time between Joburg and London, argued in court papers that the renovations, begun earlier this year, were not only in breach of the agreement, but compromised his option to develop a plot of vacant land between the mall and his building.

The judge agreed, saying that both Cradock Heights and the flow of pedestrian traffic had suffered because of the mall's illegal alterations: the new entrance juts out further into the walkway than envisaged.

Stung by the demolition order, the mall said in a statement that 'at the beginning of the court hearing, Cradock Heights conceded that the Rosebank Mall site development plan and building plans had been properly approved by the council'.

The new-look mall has proved a popular shopping area and has attracted big-name international retail outlets such as United Colors of Benetton and The Body Shop. Now it is in jeopardy.

Ivan Pachonick, the national retail director of JHI Properties, the property manager of the mall, said yesterday: 'To us the whole retail node in Rosebank has picked up tremendously and the property market in Rosebank has gone up. We will undoubtedly appeal against the judgment.'

Café Nescafé owner George Kyriacou, who has sunk a considerable sum of money into the development, said the walkway had ' picked up the whole area and the value of neighbouring properties has risen'.

'My question is: has the mall's 'mistake' added value to their properties or not?'

Clockwise owner Karen Knox said she stood to lose everything if her café was demolished.

'A couple of years ago, this was not a great shopping area and the mall was old,' she said. 'I had to be really convinced to come here, but now it has a friendly, Continental atmosphere.

'It's very hard to find an environment where one can sit outside and feel safe as one does here . . . I love my customers and the venue is ideal. I don't see the logic in demolition: it will destroy Rosebank.'

Regular visitor Hanief Ebrahim, a lawyer from Cape Town, told Metro: 'I'm appalled at the judgment that was made.

'A compromise needs to be struck between Cradock Heights and the Rosebank Mall - perhaps the mall could pay damages. The court has to weigh up commercial rights versus social rights.'

Several other customers complained that demolition would rob them of their favourite suburban outdoor haunt - as well as deprive hundreds of people of their jobs.

Waiter Lambert Moyo said: 'Does this judge know what it looks like here? If they demolish this, it's the end of Rosebank.'

Sunday Times

Publisher: Sunday Times
Source: Sunday Times
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