The City of Cape Town should be ashamed for approving the R10bn Harbour Arch development in the city’s CBD, activist organisation Reclaim the City said on Friday.
The organisation’s spokesperson, Carla Bernardo, said it was “utterly shameful and unacceptable” that the construction of the building was approved without an affordable housing component.
“Like so many developments being constructed in Cape Town right now, Harbour Arch will be another exclusive enclave catering for the super wealthy, who are mostly white,” Bernardo said.
Property developers Amdec on Thursday launched the 5.8ha (roughly six rugby fields) development, modelled on Melrose Arch in Johannesburg.
It is expected to include six individual towers, housing prime residential units and two Marriott-branded hotels. The development is expected to take five to 10 years to be completed.
Provincial investment agency Wesgro called the development “another vote of confidence in Cape Town”.
“[The development] highlights how our CBD is probably the most functional and investable on the continent,” Wesgro CEO Tim Harris said.
However, Bernardo disagreed, saying that the city could “no longer tolerate these wealthy enclaves”.
Unthinkable and immoral
She said the city was in the midst of a housing crisis and that thousands of poor and working-class families were forced to live in shacks and backyards.
“Tenants across well-located areas are being evicted and displaced. We have the lowest percentage of first-time buyers in the country,” Bernardo said.
“It is unthinkable and immoral that, in 2017, a development proposal like this would even be considered without including a large proportion of decent affordable housing.”
She said the city should have “binding conditions” on developers, requiring them to include affordable housing for residents with incomes below R18 000 per month.
Responding to News24, spokesperson for Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille, Zara Nicholson, said the mayor welcomed the development because of the “jobs it would create”.
Nicholson said that just a stone’s throw” away from the Harbour Arch, the city has made six hectares of land available for affordable housing through the Foreshore Freeway Project.
The city previously said details of the project would be released by the end of August, but by the middle of September Transport and Urban Development MEC Brett Herron said the “evaluation period is still ongoing”.
It remains unclear how many units of affordable housing the project will provide.
Cape Town CBD ward councillor Dave Bryant also welcomed the Harbour Arch development, saying that he did not believe Harbour Arch developers intended to racially discriminate against anyone.
He said the city has worked “incredibly hard to encourage high levels of investment in the CBD”.
Bryant said the city was trying to cross past spatial divides by rolling out 11 affordable housing projects in Woodstock, Salt River and the CBD to cater for people from all socio-economic backgrounds.