Velodrome developer remains optimistic

An artists impression of one of the design proposals.
The future of the Bellville Velodrome continues to be an issue for the sporting bodies, the City of Cape Town and Property developer Devmark still hopes to forge ahead with its decade-old plan to transform part of the Bellville Velodrome site into a mix of shops, businesses, parks and hotels.
In 2009, the City advertised a tender for the sporting arena, which was at the time awarded a tender to Devmark to build its Galleria precinct around the arena. 

Devmark chief executive Hein Ehlers, said it had fought off pitches from 17 other developers.
“During this time, there were public participation meetings, and, according to us, the City followed the process to the letter,” said Mr Ehlers. 

But the plans stalled following a dispute between the City and Devmark.

Devmark had agreed to pay R175 million for a 30-year-lease on an 11-hectare freehold portion of the Velodrome site with options to renew it twice for 15-year stretches. But the company then fell out with the City over whether it would pay an extra R25 million to build a feeder route from the N1 to the Galleria. 

The issue of the R25 million is still being tossed about in the courts, but Mr Ehlers said he was confident it would be resolved soon in Devmark’s favour, following which the company would press ahead with the freehold lease agreement.

Mr Ehlers added during the appeal process, a number of documents have been issued between Devmark and the City, one of which being signed by former planning and environment provincial minister MEC Anton Bredall, which stated that the City will run unopposed in the appeal for the R25 million. 
According to Mr Ehlers, once the court issue is finalised, the property will then be divided into four portions – the freehold for Devmark; the leased portions, including the Velodrome and the athletics track; while the remainder of the property will be and a remaining portion retained by the City of Cape Town. 

Mr Ehlers said Devmark had struck a deal with Big Concerts to lease the Velodrome and manage the arena once the court case was over. 

As part of the plan for the area, Devmark says it also has pending deals with three hotel groups – one local and two international – to  agreements with two international and one local hotel group, while major corporates and retailers are lining up.
However, while Devmark is pressing ahead, the sports clubs say they are still in the dark and fear they will lose access to the sports facilities during construction. 
Morris Kaplan, the Bellville Athletics Club’s chairman, said: “First of all, our gripe has never been with Devmark, and I must say that I wish them all the best with their future plans, and I think what they have planned is great for the community. Our concern is that we have leases till 2023, which the City is completely ignoring. What we are saying to the City is that you cannot help yourself first without sorting out your previous obligations.”

Mr Ehlers suggested that in order to meet the needs of the athletics clubs, the athletics track could be moved to its previous location in Voortrekker Road at the Hardekraaltjie complex, an idea that Mr Kaplan is not against. 

Mr Kaplan said: “By all means, if that is done then go ahead, but then action needs to be made because at the moment we still do not know where will train tomorrow.” 

Ms Crous said she did not wish to comment while the court case was still proceeding.

The City of Cape Town did not respond to emailed questions by the time this edition went to print.