Wits land Value and pur­pose at is­sue

Financial Mail - - FM FEATURES -

sub­urbs ob­jected and the sale was set aside by the high court in Jo­han­nes­burg.

Another of­fer was ac­cepted in 2000, but later can­celled. Wits then held dis­cus­sions with prop­erty de­vel­op­ers to es­tab­lish what in­ter­est there was in de­vel­op­ing Franken­wald.

Their view was that the value of the land had been eroded as a re­sult of dump­ing over the years and the as­so­ci­ated cost of re­mov­ing the rub­ble.

Prop­erty de­vel­op­ment com­pany iProp, how­ever, sug­gested that the rub­ble be crushed, graded and sold.

In 2001 Wits con­cluded a land avail­abil­ity agree­ment with the firm and au­tho­rised it to, among other things, ap­ply for per­mis­sion to build a town­ship.

The plans in­cluded the de­vel­op­ment of shops, com­mer­cial and of­fice premises, while 10% of the land was set aside for ed­u­ca­tional pur­poses. There were to be 4 400 hous­ing units, 3 000 of which would be sub­sidised and aimed at re­liev­ing the hous­ing pres­sures in Alexan­dra.

Wits says it did not want to be di­rectly in­volved in the busi­ness of prop­erty de­vel­op­ment. iProp was to carry out the project on its be­half and limit risk to the univer­sity. They would share the net pro­ceeds, which were still to be de­ter­mined. The agree­ment was for 10 years or un­til Franken­wald was de­vel­oped or sold, whichever oc­curred first.

How­ever, this plan also hit a snag. Own­ers of the neigh­bour­ing land, the Wit­wa­ter­srand Es­tate and the Water­val Is­lamic In­sti­tute, led by Ibrahim Mia, ob­jected and launched a high court ap­pli­ca­tion for a re­view in 2006.

The mat­ter has yet to be heard in court, due to sev­eral de­lays that Wits says were

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