De­vel­oper of River Club hits back

Cape Argus - - FRONT PAGE - MARVIN CHARLES [email protected]

THE DE­VEL­OPER of the con­tro­ver­sial River Club de­vel­op­ment in Ob­ser­va­tory has lashed out at his de­trac­tors.

“I am sick of all the lies,” said Jody Aufrichtig, over com­plaints that his in­tended plans will mir­ror Canal Walk.

“It has been frus­trat­ing hav­ing peo­ple lie about what we are plan­ning, a lot of peo­ple have fab­ri­cated what we have said.

“It’s hard hear­ing that we have never en­gaged with any­one when we have spo­ken to var­i­ous role-play­ers in the com­mu­nity on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions.”

Aufrichtig dis­missed claims that they are plan­ning to build a replica of Canal Walk.

“What we want to do is cre­ate a de­vel­op­ment blend­ing dif­fer­ent cul­tures and so­cio-eco­nomic strata.

“I want to make a nice safe en­vi­ron­ment for the com­mu­nity and not only for Ob­ser­va­tory, but for Ron­de­bosch, Langa and Khayelit­sha.”

This is the first time Aufrichtig has spo­ken out amid con­tro­versy sur­round­ing the de­vel­op­ment at the River Club. He said it’s be­come too ex­pen­sive for him to main­tain the area and the area has be­come a dump­ing site.

“Keep­ing the area clean and mak­ing the golf course look nice has cost a for­tune. We are talk­ing thou­sands of rand and to add to it we have to keep the il­le­gal dump­ing off the site.”

It costs him R1 mil­lion just to main­tain the area.

For seven years the com­mu­nity of Ob­ser­va­tory has been ob­ject­ing to plans to re­de­velop the River Club.

Res­i­dents have also raised con­cerns about how the pro­posed re­de­vel­op­ment on the banks of the river could have a neg­a­tive im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment and af­fect the sig­nif­i­cance of the area’s his­tory.

The Lies­beeck River, which is less than 9km long, is sit­u­ated in the old­est ur­banised river val­ley in South Africa.

The Two Rivers Ur­ban Park is lo­cated at the con­flu­ence of the Black and Lies­beeck rivers, about 5km from the city cen­tre.

Be­cause of its en­vi­ron­ment and his­tory, the area has be­come ideal for

We want to cre­ate a de­vel­op­ment blend­ing dif­fer­ent cul­tures Jody Aufrichtig DE­VEL­OPER

a de­vel­op­ment that could en­hance job cre­ation. The re­de­vel­op­ment of the River Club in Ob­ser­va­tory is set to cost R4 bil­lion that will in­clude res­i­den­tial, retail and com­mer­cial com­po­nents in­clud­ing a ho­tel, of­fices, con­fer­ence cen­tre and even schools.

The River Club, which is owned and op­er­ated by the Lies­beek Leisure Prop­er­ties Trust. Indigo Prop­er­ties, which has been in­volved in the re­gen­er­a­tion of the Old Bis­cuit Mill in Salt River, the Wood­stock Ex­change and the Daddy Ho­tels, and Zen­prop, which would fund the de­vel­op­ment, are the main driv­ers of the project.

The re­de­vel­op­ment will sup­ply over 5 239 jobs dur­ing the con­struc­tion pe­riod with a to­tal value of R1.6bn, as well as con­tribut­ing 13 700 in­di­rect and in­duced jobs. Twenty per­cent of the res­i­den­tial space will be ded­i­cated to in­clu­sion­ary hous­ing for key work­ers, ac­cord­ing to Aufrichtig, those key work­ers in­clude po­lice­men, nurses and teach­ers. Re­cently, at a spe­cial coun­cil meet­ing of Her­itage West­ern Cape, a de­ci­sion was made to keep the ar­eas pro­tec­tion sta­tus. Ini­tially it was rec­om­mended that the ar­eas pro­tec­tion sta­tus be with­drawn.

“I think Her­itage West­ern Cape pro­vi­sion­ally pro­tected the site with­out un­der­stand­ing, they should’ve let the process run its course.” It’s now a mat­ter of wait­ing. They are cur­rently half­way through for the environmen­tal com­ment­ing stage. It’s a 60-day pe­riod where the pub­lic can com­ment on the var­i­ous stud­ies they have done on the area. Aufrichtig hopes for con­struc­tion to start in early 2021.

Tau­riq Jenk­ins, the chair­per­son of the Ob­ser­va­tory Civic As­so­ci­a­tion said: “This is a bat­tle of restorativ­e jus­tice… (It) has deep his­tor­i­cal roots. It’s im­por­tant for all the stake­hold­ers to take note. This is a very sa­cred ground.”

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AN ARTIST’S impression of the River Club de­vel­op­ment. The de­vel­oper has slammed claims it would mir­ror Canal Walk.

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