Demolition of Deep Blue building delayed

The eyesore, Deep Blue, which is a blot on the landscape, and increasingly a health hazard to visitors to Strand Beach, will possibly only be demolished in the City of Cape Town's new financial year which starts on July 1.

Visitors to Strand beach will be familiar with the eyesore that is Deep Blue, the now derelict building on the beach between Melkbaai Street and the clock tower.

The building has been abandoned for years, and it was eventually secured to prevent its illicit occupation by homeless people and vagrants. The structure is steadily crumbling and is likely to become a hazard for beach visitors if it is not demolished. It poses a health risk because its nooks and crannies are routinely used as a toilet and a dumping ground for litter, including liquor and cold drink bottles, broken glass, used condoms and plastic and paper.

In a Q&A about the construction of the sea wall, promenade and Strand Pavilion Precinct upgrade with Strand Ratepayers Association’s John Niehaus in June 2017, then mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, Brett Herron, said that phase 2 of the upgrading of the sea wall would require that Deep Blue be demolished to enable construction of the wall in that vicinity. Therefore the latest it would be demolished would be during phase 2 of the construction of the sea wall. That, he said, was planned for the second half of 2017, “budget permitting”.

With phase 1, which takes the seawall to Da Gama Street, having been completed last year, there seems to be no progress with phase 2, and the demolition of Deep Blue.

Bolander submitted an inquiry to the City of Cape Town on November 22, requesting an update on phase 2 of the beachfront project, and the future of Deep Blue.

On November 27, Councillor Phindile Maxiti, mayoral committee member for Area East responded: “The recreation and parks department has obtained an approved demolition certificate for Deep Blue and the environmental authorisations were completed as part of the seawall construction under phase 2. The department is currently investigating the options available for funding and execution of the demolition, given the changes to the initial project plan. A meeting has been scheduled to further discuss all viable solutions.”

Mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, Felicity Purchase, who replaced Mr Herron, explained the budget constraints and changes in project focus: “Due to the unanticipated rapid deterioration of the existing sea wall between the (Strand) Pavilion and Greenway, or phase 3 of the project, we have been compelled to reprioritise the phasing of this project.

“Phase 2 will therefore not be implemented as the next phase as originally planned, but the focus will now shift to the area between the (Strand) Pavilion and Greenways. Funding has also had an impact on the extent of work that can be incorporated in the next phase of the project.

We are therefore focusing on the problem areas of the section between the (Strand) Pavilion and Greenways, based on the urgency to intervene on the sections that are currently worst affected.

We will follow a procurement process in order to secure a contractor on site during the first quarter of 2019 to undertake work on the selected areas that need urgent attention.”

Bolander submitted a series of followup question the same day, specifically:

Did this property go through declaration as a problem building?

Are there outstanding rates and services levies, and if so, how much?

Will City seek recovery from the owner?

Will City seeks recovery of the cost of demolition as well as the costs associated with processes to secure the demolition certificate?

If so, how much does this amount to?

On January 29, two months after submission of the followup questions, the City’s Councillor Zahid Badroodien, mayoral committee member for community services and health, finally responded.

“The building is owned by the National Department of Public Works. The City was responsible for managing the building and consulted extensively with the owner after a series of structural issues escalated beyond the fixes that repairs and maintenance could provide. This included frequent flooding of part of the structure that was located below the water mark,” said Mr Badroodien.

“The City then decided to submit an application to the provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEADP), for the demolition of Deep Blue. The DEADP were the administrators appointed by the National Department of Public Works to act on their behalf during this process. The process of obtaining the demolition certificate, all the necessary environmental authorisations and actual demolition of the building was then scheduled as part of phase 2 of the upgrade to the Strand sea wall project.”

He added: “There are no outstanding rates and levies, the City was responsible for managing the building and no recovery costs are applicable, The cost for the demolition of the building and all other processes pertaining to the demolition are at the expense of the City of Cape Town. Costs will be determined once a contractor has been appointed.

“Current plans for demolition of derelict buildings along the coast indicate that the demolition of Deep Blue will likely take place in the new financial year – July 2019 to June 2020. The proposed demolition of the derelict buildings (including Deep Blue) are required to be advertised. Once advertised, a report will have to be submitted to the sub-council for comment, and then to council for in-principle approval.

“Thereafter it will be submitted to the immovable property adjudication committee and mayoral committee for approval. Once approved, a contractor will be appointed to undertake the demolition work.”