Joburg's precinct 'cheaper than rent'

Posted On Wednesday, 30 November 2005 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Premier Mbhazima Shilowa yesterday defended the R2,5 billion price tag of the Gauteng government precinct in inner Johannesburg, arguing that it was cheaper than paying rent.

Mbazima ShilowaDemocratic Alliance (DA) provincial MP Jack Bloom had asked whether money for the Kopanong Gauteng provincial government precinct, already under fire over the planned demolition of 10 inner-city buildings, could not be better spent.

"We would use even more resources (than those budgeted for the precinct) on the buildings if we were paying rent," Shilowa replied.

Project leader Jack van der Merwe said the cost to the province of renting buildings was about R250 million a year, which would continue to rise.

Shilowa said: "We all agreed as government a while ago that there was a need to consolidate government in one place, which is why we started buying buildings in the city.

"There is now an area where we own the buildings, and we can add on to them and invest in them."

Van der Merwe said that in terms of the public-private partnership deal a concessionaire would run the buildings and lease them to provincial departments at a fixed rate.

The prequalified bidders were expected to be announced by July next year, and the province would request that they run the buildings for at least 20 to 30 years, he said.

Shilowa criticised opposition parties and a lobby group, consisting largely of architects, for waiting "until the last moment" to object to the project.

Eight architects and heritage consultants lodged a request earlier this month for an urgent appeal against a decision by the South African Heritage Resources Agency to demolish 10 historic Art Deco-style buildings in the area that they feel is of historical significance.

"There has been much discussion about this project, and the model has been available for about a year-and-a-half," said Shilowa.

Bloom disputed Shilowa's claim, saying the legislature had never seen a model or discussed the plan. He called for a committee to be formed to discuss the plan and how the money could best be spent.

The architects, represented by Herbert Prins, have emphasised that they are not in theory against the precinct. They say their concern is over the cost, a lack of consultation and transparency, the loss of historical buildings and some aspects of the design they feel will change the feel of the city and lead to traffic congestion.

The precinct is to be based around the Beyers Naude Square near the city library.


Last modified on Saturday, 17 May 2014 10:56

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