The City of Cape Town has agreed, “in principle”, to sell the Salt River Market site to a “social housing institution (SHI)” for 10% of its market value for an 820 unit mixed-use development, it announced on Thursday.
“I’m elated by Council’s decision to agree, in principle, to transfer this City-owned land,” said councillor Malusi Booi, member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for human settlements. He said the market site was valued at R114.3-million, but the council would let it go, with strings attached, to an SHI for R11.4-million.
Booi told News24 that it could be non-profit Communicare, which owns and manages rental units, to whom the land is transferred. The site consists of 13 erven and 1.4 ha in total about 5 km from the CBD and, if a development plan is approved by council, the social housing institution is expected to produce a mixture of rental units for varying incomes, as well as retail space.
On November 1, former MMC for urban development Brett Herron resigned during a flurry of political activity following Patricia de Lille’s exit as mayor. At the time he said the last straw was when the DA caucus refused to support the disposal of the Salt River Market site, letting down communities he had been working with for affordable housing.
Booi said the latest feasibility study confirmed that it was possible to increase the number of affordable units from the mandatory 30% to 43%, up from what was originally presented in the report to council on October 25.
The site currently houses the Salt River Market, a municipal hall, old stables; and is next to the busy Voortrekker and Bromwell roads and a railway line. Booi stressed that this was an approval “in principle” only and that there was still a long way to go in finalising agreements on terms and conditions, and getting it accepted by the council.
Earlier on Thursday Mayor Dan Plato told the council that it was not good enough that the City only provided 3 500 housing units in the last financial year, and said this needed to change. Herron issued a statement in his private capacity on Thursday saying: “Public and activist pressure has led the DA into reversing its October decision to block the disposal of the Salt River Market site to Communicare,” he said.
He resigned in November because he felt that the City was anti-transformation and blocking developments in sites on well-located areas.
He also resigned from the DA.