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Tuesday Jun 03, 2014

Landmark Gardens property being renovated

Renovations are under way at the old San Remo Guest House on the corner of Camp and Krynauw streets in Gardens,Cape Town, which has been a problem building for 20 years.

The San Remo Guest House in Gardens is undergoing renovations after being a problem building for more than 20 years.

Fabrice Orengo de Lamaziere, who was born in France but has lived in South Africa for 20 years, has long been searching for the perfect building for a hotel in Cape Town.

Orengo de Lamaziere owns Motswari game lodge in Kruger National Park and wanted to find a location in Cape Town for guests to stay before or after their visit to Kruger. But it had to be in keeping with the 'old and beautiful style' of the lodge. Sadly, he said the San-Remo site would not be the venue for the 25-bedroom hotel he dreamed of.

'Despite the fact that I wanted to clean the area up, I had neighbours who objected to a hotel,' he said, adding that he fought them for two years, but could not wait any longer.

So he sold his shares to long-time business partner and friend Cedric Castro who undertook to renovate the building into eight apartments. The apartments, likely to be named Wilton House after a previous incarnation of the building, will be available only to rent.

The building, originally a barn built in 1806, was transformed into a Georgian villa and then a lodge for nurses.

'I've been looking for years for the right building with history and character and I fell in love with this building,' said Orengo de Lamaziere, who is involved in the renovations.

'This building has been my passion for three years and we are trying to keep the style and character.'

It later became San Remo Guest House, but it fell into disrepair and became cheap accommodation in the 1990s. It has long been a problem building, with drugs and prostitution being major concerns.

'It was a dangerous place and it has to be changed to improve the area,' Orengo de Lamaziere said.

To 'rejuvenate the soul' of the building, he invited a group of artists to use rooms as studios for 18 months after which an exhibition was held.

Heritage practitioner Chris Snelling was called in to assist with the heritage aspects of the proposal. As one of the founders of Heritage Western Cape, he has had a special interest in the building. He confirmed that the building had had problems.

He advised in terms of process, treatment to the building and how to rehabilitate it, but he said it was not a restoration as such because there was too much that was damaged and lost over the years.

'From what I've seen respect and care is being given to the building and its heritage,' he said.

Renovations should be complete by the end of November, but Orengo de Lamaziere will continue to search for the perfect venue for his hotel.

Cape Times


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