The old Shoprite building in Voortrekker Road, Goodwood, has stood as an empty shell for several years, but the new owner has plans to turn the derelict property into a mixed-use development.
Over the past three years, the surrounding business community has had to contend with widespread vandalism of the property and vagrants coming and going there at all hours.
Johan Basson, an employee at Battery Base, said he had noticed vagrants stealing from the site about three weeks ago.
“This whole section, which includes De Wet Street, is a problem area,” he said.
Homelessness and theft were big problems in the area.
“That’s why we decided to get this security gate in front of the shop because without the security gate we were more vulnerable to criminals,” he said.
“Taxi drivers and sliding door operators use the beginning of De Wet Street, which is across the way from the property, as a toilet,” said Mr Basson.
He said three robbers had held up Battery Base last November. “They came in with a gun and wanted my cellphone. They eventually knocked me out with the gun and got away with a small battery. The other batteries were too heavy for them to carry.”
Waheed Ebrahim is the general manager of Angloprop, which bought the old Shoprite building from Kilda Isle Trade (Pty) Ltd two months ago.
Mr Ebrahim said the transfer had gone through this month and two security guards had been hired to stop further vandalism.
“I am aware that the property hasbeenvandalised. However there are no vagrants staying at the property at the moment,” he said.
Mr Ebrahim said he planned to revamp the building.
“Half of the ground floor will serve as the new premises for Anglo Auto. We will not be letting it out as is. We are currently in negotiations with various tenants,” he said.
The revamp, he promised, would conform with the “City’s vision to transform the Voortrekker Road Corridor” and the site would include “upmarket” residential units.
“What we don’t want is the development becoming a slum like so many other properties along Voortrekker Road,” he said.
Goodwood police spokesman Captain Waynne Theunis said there was no longer a problem with homeless people living around the building since the new owner had stationed security guards there day and night.
Last week Northern News emailed questions to Ward 26 councillor Franchesca Walker about the building in her ward, but she did not respond by the time this edition went to print, despite numerous follow-up calls.
While the City does not list the building as a problem building officially, Ward 27 councillor Cecile Janse van Rensburg has had it on her list of problematic buildings over the past five years.
“It was uninhabited and we had issues with vagrants staying around the property. The previous owner tried to secure the property by placing security guards at the site,” she said.
Ms Janse van Rensburg is glad the property has changed ownership. “As the previous ward councillor for that area, I am glad to hear that there is now a new owner and I look forward to positive development as the premises is situated on the main road,” she said.