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Monday Sep 01, 2014

Tshwane to sell off Sunnyside properties

Tshwane is set to sell 33 properties in Sunnyside, including heritage houses, a theatre and the House 22 Pub and Grill, as part of the Nelson Mandela Drive Development Corridor.

The proposed sale was delayed by a 21-year-old administrative bungle involving the description of properties and a subsequent attempt to rectify it.

This delay will deprive the city of a higher selling price, as over time the properties' condition has deteriorated, resulting in a decrease in their market value.

During finalisation of papers to effect the transfer of the properties - known as the Overzicht site - in 2009, it was discovered the property descriptions were different from those entered in the contract. A report tabled in the council said this was because new property descriptions differed from those approved by the surveyor-general in 1993.

While preparing the 2009 report, it came to light that subdivisions and descriptions of 1993 had not been captured on the municipal system. In addition, the new erven created were not registered with the deeds office but still registered under the subdivisions and divisions set out before 1993.

These descriptions the city had used, resulted in a delay in the process. The revised and correct descriptions were approved by the council last week - with support from several city entities - including the office of the municipal chief financial officer and group legal counsel.

The council also resolved that the proposed sale be advertised to enable the public to comment. City manager Jason Ngobeni was authorised to renegotiate and sign the contract.

Some of the properties are developed while others are vacant. Their average market value is between R300 000 and R500 000, with the most expensive valued at R1.2 million.

A few of the properties have been sub-divided. The sale will earn the city just over R13 million - an increase of just R380 000 since the 2009 valuation. If consensus on the proposed conditions of sale is not concluded by April next year, the market value of the properties will be reconsidered.

Lindiwe Kwele, Tshwane deputy city manager, unveiled plans for the Nelson Mandela Drive Development Corridor at the city's urban design seminar and said it would include upgrading of the Apies River.

Ward councillor for the area, Kate Prinsloo, said if Overzicht had not been left to rot, the value and current selling price would have escalated by a lot more than R380 000.

In the past five years, wholesale looting has taken place, the DA councillor said. 'Illegal occupants have taken over some of the properties. The place is a den for the sale of drugs and alcohol, and the value of the properties has been allowed to decline dramatically.'

The city intends to sell the properties for business or commercial purposes. This must incorporate houses protected in terms of heritage legislation. The development will form an important part of inner city regeneration in line with Tshwane's Vision 2055, an ambitious plan to revamp the capital.

Prinsloo has recommended the heritage features of the area be preserved, in line with heritage requirements, and that the community feel of the area be protected, including by keeping the Breytenbach theatre.

'The place must be beautiful and safe like it used to be in the days when Sunnyside was a vibey cultural hub. We want that back,' she said.

Sunnyside is one of the city's oldest suburbs, having been incorporated in 1890. The theatre, which belongs to the Tshwane University of Technology, was previously a community hall, hospital and studio. It was turned into a theatre in the 1950s.

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