Big question marks hang over the multi-billion rand Galleria development that was planned for the Bellville Velodrome and surrounds but has failed to materialise eight years on.
A R3 billion tender was awarded to Devmet in 2009 to overhaul undeveloped land (part of erf 21750) at the Velodrome as part of a mixed-use development, with retail, office and residential space along with a hotel and conference facilities.
However, a lengthy court battle between the developer and City of Cape Town relating to certain of conditions of approval has stalled development.
Ward 70 councillor Andrea Crous tabled a motion at the sub-council 3 meeting on Friday August 18 to find out what was happening with the development.
She asked the City’s property management department to report back on why it was taking so long and she called for sub-council to establish a task team to meet twice a month to get things moving.
Ms Crous also wanted Devmet to explain what their plans were for the property and for the sub-council manager to arrange a meeting with the portfolio committee on assets and facilities.
“Eight years have passed and the process is still not completed,” she said.
Deputy mayor Ian Neilson agreed to get a report from property management but felt it would be premature to ask Devmet to appear before sub-council.
“There are a range of legal issues around this matter, and it would be better to get a report from the director of property management and to get acquainted with the issues before calling Devmet in,” he said.
Stuart Diamond, mayoral committee member for assets and facilities management, said council had approved the developer’s rezoning and subdivision application on October 31 2013.
Mr Diamond said Devmet had appealed certain conditions of approval to the provincial government. The Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning dismissed the appeal in February 2015, but in August of that year the developer approached the Western Cape High Court to review and set aside that decision.
“The parties are currently in negotiations to resolve the matter,” Mr Diamond said.
Devmet office manager Stephanie Gallowitz told Northern News in 2015 that they had signed an agreement with the City to lease the Velodrome and acquire the balance of the surrounding land. She said the development would start in 2016 (“Velodrome plans not on track,” Northern News November 12 2015).
At the time, Mr Neilson said Devmet was unhappy with the City’s requirement that it pay R25 million towards upgrading the surrounding road network “in addition to the normal development contributions”.
Mr Neilson said the City had set that condition when it approved the rezoning of the Galleria site in 2013.
Mr Diamond said the tender included two conditions: the purchase and development of vacant land surrounding the athletic stadium (track and pavilion) and the Velodrome for retail, office, hotel, conference and residential development; and the lease, upgrade and management of the athletic stadium and the Velodrome.
Ms Crous said there was a lack of management at the Velodrome. The facility was being vandalised and was not being used properly due to the month-to-month hiring process. She said in one instance she had been at the site and seen a man walking out with a toilet bowl on his shoulder.
“As councillor it’s my responsibility to see that council’s assets are used and managed for the benefit of the community,” she said.
Mr Diamond confirmed there had been some vandalism at the facility but security had been improved.
“There have been no reports of vandalism recently,” he said.
He said the Velodrome was still being used for events, including school athletics, the Africa Cycling Championships, the National Netball Competition, aerobics and hip-hop competitions, indoor hockey and church events. It was also frequently used by athletics and cycling clubs.
Northern News emailed questions to Devmet last Wednesday and again on Monday and Tuesday mornings this week. Follow-up phone calls and messages were not returned, and they still had not responded to our questions by deadline.