Baying for parking blood in Glenhazel
The Salgado brothers apparently bought the property with a view to alleviating their customers’ concerns over parking – a huge problem in the area. But, when they applied to the City Council to rezone their new property from residential to business use, there was a huge negative reaction.
In their application, they say they wish “to obtain rights to develop and use the property for shops, offices and dwelling units”. It also mentions “moving our business from across the road… possibly incorporating some offices or dwelling units on the first and second floors”.
The house across the road…
The Salgados paid over R6 million for the house of Lara and Russel Joselowsky at 4 Long Avenue. The brothers told the Jewish Report that their plan was to demolish the house and build a new 800m² store on the 1 500m² property, twice the size of the present Freshfellas.
They claimed that the most important thing they would be adding was 30 additional urgently-needed parking bays.
But it seems, from the many objections to the proposed rezoning, that the objectors believe the proposed development – despite more parking bays envisaged – would in fact exacerbate an already dire traffic situation.
When the time limit for objections to the rezoning closed, over 30 objections – a number of which were signed by 25 or more angry residents – were noted by the City’s Development Planning Department. A City staffer said this was an abnormally high number of objections, which she describes as angry and unusually highly charged.
Local ward councillor, Steven Kruger, agreed that this was a large number of objections. He said in his experience, five was considered a lot. “I understand the concern of the residents. I am also worried that there won’t be enough parking,” says Kruger.
One objection points out there are only 106 parking bays to service the mushrooming business community. However, 44 may be illegal as they’re on the pavement or “placed on previous pedestrian walkways”, leaving just 62 legal parking bays.
Louis Mielke, who lives two blocks away in Mejon Street, is livid “because the parking and traffic flow are terrible at the Strip shops”. Driving on Long Avenue “has become a nightmare”, he says, and stresses that the “already degraded roads” were not built to handle it.
Mielke, himself an engineer, submitted a six-point objection – which was in turn supported by signatures of 25 fellow-residents.
The six complaints are, briefly: (i) Dangerous and potentially deadly traffic congestion; (ii) Parking problems; (iii) Increased air and noise pollution during demolition and construction; (iv) Increased road damage; (v) Disruption caused by augmenting services such as power, water, sewage and waste removal; and (vi) Danger that rezoning will set a precedent and further developments it may “stimulate”, will change the character of the leafy suburb.
The Salgados appear to be perplexed by the objections. “We’re doing this to create more parking and space for our customers,” says Alvino. Johnny, who says they only have their customers’ best interests at heart, adds: “We are giving the community something they want. Every second person complains about parking.”
The Salgados say rumours have been spread that they plan to build a three-storey building while they insist they are only planning to build their new shop and parking.
After perusing some objections and checking with the Council, SA Jewish Report (SAJR) went back to ask Alvino why the rezoning application specifies “12 dwelling units” and a height of “three storeys”. Salgado referred SAJR to his town planners, Steve Jaspan and Associates (SJA), who are handling the rezoning.
Kevin Wilkins, of SJA, said that their client’s “primary objective” was to erect a “purpose-built” store for Freshfellas and to offer better parking for its customers.
However, Wilkins confirmed that the rezoning application did also specify dwellings and offices and a height of three storeys. The zoning application is for a building “no different to the Weinprop building next door, which has businesses on the ground floor and offices and flats above,” he admitted.
What are they planning to build?
“It’s not completely untoward, given the area and what’s built next door. We are applying for shops on the ground floor and, possibly – I don’t know that (they) will – do any dwelling units or offices. They may be nice to have, or maybe not,” says Wilkins. The City would, however, insist on the provision of on-site parking.
The Weinprop building houses Brioche restaurant, the huge new Nussbaum’s retail butchery and other retailers. It also has two floors of office and residential space.
No parking specifications are available as no building plans have been filed. The City’s parking requirements are 1,3 bays per flat; three per 100m² of office and six per 100m² for retail.
If the Salgado brothers have, in fact, changed direction and are only planning to build an 800m² shop. they would still have to provide 48 bays – 18 more than they are planning – unless the City allows them leniency.
However, the public may be rightfully be concerned that a second Weinprop building could end up on the site, also that the present Freshfellas is let for retail and that the existing congestion and chaos could be magnified many-fold and become even more dire.
Freshfellas still hope rezoning passes by the year’s end so they can be trading from the new premises by late 2018. They’re considering letting their present premises, or using it for storage and packing for their new shop.
However, it may not be so easy. Town Planning first needs to assess the situation, write and circulate a report among other relevant departments. With so many objections, the comments from other departments will require more scrutiny as each objection will be considered.
Once departments report back, Development Planning (if there is no obvious impediment to rezoning), will schedule a site inspection to which City officials, owners and objectors will be invited. This will be followed by hearings at the Civic Centre.