Mall sold be­fo­re it is built?

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Nuus | News - Ya­seen Gaf­far

De­ve­lo­pers of the R40-mil­li­on Con­cor­dia shop­ping cen­t­re are re­a­dy to sell off the pro­ject fol­lo­wing Knys­na Mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty’s “de­lay” in sig­ning off an agreement with them.

T­his, and w­hat seems to be con­flicting pro­mi­ses ma­de by two con­se­cu­ti­ve mu­ni­ci­pal ad­mi­nis­tra­ti­ons, ha­ve left the de­ve­lo­pers caug­ht be­t­ween two bu­reau­cra­tic chairs.

The cen­t­re was i­ni­ti­al­ly plan­ned to o­pen t­his month (No­vem­ber 2018) but to da­te, litt­le to no con­structi­on has ta­ken pla­ce a­si­de from le­vel­ling the ground and the e­recti­on of signs.

Ac­cor­ding to a coun­cil re­so­lu­ti­on in A­pril 2018, the ap­pli­cant is re­spon­si­ble to pay de­ve­lop­ment char­ges in in­stal­ments o­ver 24 mont­hs and re­ba­tes on ser­vi­ces for the first three y­e­ars.

“We’ve had dis­cus­si­ons with the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty but no­thing has been sig­ned off yet. We’ve ne­go­ti­a­ted re­du­ced aug­men­ta­ti­on ra­tes and are e­a­ger to s­tart t­his de­ve­lop­ment. But as t­hings stand we are yet to re­cei­ve the agreement in wri­ting,” said Va­riflex CEO Ian Rau­ben­hei­mer, who spo­ke on be­half of the de­ve­lo­pers.

‘No pro­gress for al­most a ye­ar’

“We are wai­ting for feed­back from the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty. But it’s been al­most a ye­ar now and no pro­gress has been ma­de with re­gards to the de­ve­lop­ment. We are con­si­de­ring pul­ling out,” Rau­ben­hei­mer said, ad­ding that de­ve­lo­pers are in ne­go­ti­a­ti­ons with two pro­specti­ve buy­ers who ha­ve ex­pres­sed in­te­rest in ta­king o­ver the de­ve­lop­ment. “The main is­sue is that no­thing hap­pens with t­his mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty. We know that the mu­ni­ci­pal ma­na­ger has re­cei­ved the pa­per­work, but we are still wai­ting for any sort of feed­back.”

Ear­lier t­his ye­ar the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty re­fu­sed to wai­ve the de­ve­lop­ment char­ges (aug­men­ta­ti­on fees) for bulk ser­vi­ces or the first three y­e­ars’ ra­tes and taxes as pro­mi­sed by the pre­vi­ous ad­mi­nis­tra­ti­on.

As a com­pro­mi­se, Knys­na coun­cil said t­hey would al­low the de­ve­lop­ment char­ges to be paid in in­stal­ments o­ver 24 mont­hs and agreed to re­ba­tes on ra­tes and ser­vi­ces o­ver the first three y­e­ars: 100% re­ba­te in ye­ar one, 75% in ye­ar two and 50% in the thi­rd. Af­ter t­his, full ra­tes would ap­ply. At the time, coun­cil­lors agreed u­na­ni­mous­ly that the be­ne­fits of a shop­ping cen­t­re for the com­mu­ni­ty of Con­cor­dia and Gre­a­ter Knys­na a­rea will be im­men­se, as it would not on­ly ge­ne­ra­te hund­reds of jobs in the co­ming y­e­ars but al­so boost the lo­cal e­co­nomy.

Be­ne­fit for st­rug­gling re­si­dents

It would al­so sa­ve st­rug­gling re­si­dents the taxi fa­re of going to shop in the Knys­na CBD, as sto­res such as S­hop­ri­te had al­re­a­dy com­mit­ted to be key te­nants at the cen­t­re.

The ci­vil aug­men­ta­ti­on fees a­mount to a­round R980 000. T­his would in­cre­a­se an­nu­al­ly as coun­cil ap­pro­ves new ta­riffs, and would al­so in­cre­a­se with the in­clu­si­on of e­lec­tri­ci­ty. Coun­cil­lor Pe­ter My­ers, who sits as c­hai­r­per­son of the Techni­cal Ser­vi­ces as well as Plan­ning & In­te­gra­ted Hu­man Sett­le­ment com­mit­tees, sta­ted that any de­ci­si­on re­gar­ding de­ve­lop­ment char­ges for Con­cor­dia Mall would ha­ve to be dis­cus­sed at a coun­cil meet­ing.

“An agreement be­t­ween the de­ve­lo­pers and of­fi­ci­als of the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty can’t bind coun­cil to up­hold that de­ci­si­on. It would ha­ve to co­me be­fo­re coun­cil,” he said, ad­ding that it is un­li­ke­ly that t­his mat­ter will still be de­ci­ded by coun­cil t­his ye­ar as it has not yet been lis­ted for dis­cus­si­on on the a­gen­da. The last coun­cil meet­ing for the ye­ar is sche­du­led for 29 No­vem­ber.

P­ho­to: Ya­seen Gaf­far

Va­riflex CEO Ian Rau­ben­hei­mer at the si­te w­he­re Con­cor­dia Mall was to be con­structed. De­ve­lo­pers are yet to re­ach an agreement with the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty re­gar­ding aug­men­ta­ti­on fees.

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