THE Problem Buildings Division is addressing the issue of problem buildings in the city centre with recent successes in Crieff Place in South Beach and in Mahatma Gandhi Road. The building in Crieff Place was hijacked and illegally occupied. Following a court process, the owner of the property evicted the illegal occupants and proceeded to demolish the vacant building but left a portion of the superstructure. He had not fully secured the property and had left the rubble from the demolition process on site to ensure that the site was not occupied again.
However, the sheltered portion of the remaining superstructure was occupied soon after. The Problem Building Division engaged unsuccessfully with the owner to secure the property. Therefore, the division took the decision to remedy the works on site by removing the rubble, repairing and closing all the openings to the site, and installing barbed wire to the tops of the boundary wall to prevent any person from occupying the site. They also arranged to demolish the remnant gable wall to a safe height. At 40 Mahatma Gandhi Road, the Problem Buildings Division noticed that the facades of the building were structurally unsound and propped it up with steel frames.
The facades could not be demolished since the building was a heritage building and AMAFA had imposed that the facades had to be retained when development of the Docklands Hotel on the property had previously been undertaken. Based on this decision from AMAFA, the redevelopment was to be phased and the remnant portions were to be included in phase 2 of the expansion of the hotel. Due to non-maintenance of the structure, the remnants became derelict, and the condition moved to that of a dangerous situation with portions of the building posing a danger to life and property. The City took a decision to carry out the remedial works to make the structure safe and improve the appearance of the structure.
This included having to remove the dangerous elements of the remnant portions of the property, removal of all windowpanes, inclusive of those broken, sealing the openings and painting the remnants. The steel stays were treated and painted to preserve its strength. The City is now in the process to recover costs for the work undertaken. EThekwini Municipality remains committed to the eradication of problem buildings in the CBD precinct