Saturday, March 14, 2009

Crunch turns Cape Town's V&A Waterfront into eyesore

"Riding out the storm" is a comment one hears regularly . Don't count on it: the contraction will take a long, long time. Consumers will start spending again after they feel financially safe, have enough money on the bank for a rainy day and house prices are in line with reality. Until such time, we are talking 2014.

Crunch Turns Waterfront In Eye Sore

Helen Bamford

Some disgruntled tenants at the V&A Waterfront say the credit crunch is making it harder to do business at what is one of South Africa's premier tourist destinations, yet rentals are constantly increasing.

The Waterfront has also come under scrutiny from visitors, who complain that the centre is looking shabby and is in need of maintenance.

Two shops recently closed and last year a tenant was evicted for failing to pay rental arrears.

"I doubt there is a single tenant that is not affected," said one owner, who asked not to be named.

"You just need to walk through the centre to see how dead it is. At this rate they are going to lose some important anchor tenants."

Several new developments have also been put on hold by new owners London and Regional and Dubai World, who bought the prime property for R7,3-billion in 2006.

Another business owner said South Africans were spending a lot less and that while there were tourists, it was not the usual flood.

"People don't go wild anymore," he said, adding that there were a number of restaurants for sale.

Sun Goddess and Harper recently closed down while last year Clarence Ford, who owned 90% of Vandenberg's Jazz Café, was evicted after owing the Waterfront R219 000 in arrears.

But Waterfront spokesperson Maureen Thomson said new tenants had already signed up for the empty shops.

She said rentals at the Waterfront were not way above market-related prices.

"Our turnover results are still good and up on last year."

Thomson added that while a couple of developments were on hold, this was due to the global recession.

"Most property developers elsewhere in the city are also riding out the storm," she said.


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