Beachfront ‘fawlty towers’

It was meant to be a luxury development and a money-spinner for thousands, but the Blaauwberg hotel brought only misery to its investors, and now, shrouded in mystery, it remains a high-rise blight on the beachfront, say residents.

Since 2010 the 144-room building on the corner of Beach Boulevard and Beach Crescent, in Bloubergstrand, has stood empty, and residents want answers about what the future holds for it.

It was meant to have been a five-star hotel but it hit financial ruin in 2010, and its owner, Midnight Storm Investments 386 – part of the Realcor group of companies – was liquidated in October 2011.

In May 2013, the liquidators, Sanek Trust, instructed ClareMart Auction Group to sell the hotel and it went for R57.57 million – far less than the R600 million plus that more than 3000 investors had ploughed into it (“Uncertain future for derelict hotel,” Tabletalk July 10, 2013).

According to the deeds office, the building is now owned by Zibiscope Pty Ltd. The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission lists Cristina Cardoso as the sole director of Zibiscope and gives its physical address as a house in Louis Botha Avenue, in Maryvale, Gauteng.

A neighbour to this property – whose phone number is displayed on a billboard in Google Street View – told Tabletalk that, to his knowledge, the house next door to his was a private residence.

The man, who did not give his name, said he had no way of getting in touch with his neighbour.

Other attempts to contact Zibiscope or Ms Cardoso for comment were unsuccessful.

Andrew Koch was the agent who handled the auction and he said the owners did not wish to be contacted. Many had tried without success, he said.

“What I can confirm is that the sale went through a couple of weeks after the auction. The building is owned by two guys from Johannesburg. As far as why they haven’t opened yet, I have no idea,” said Mr Koch.

Residents of Table View and Bloubergstrand are unhappy that such a large building on “prime beachfront land” should still be shrouded in mystery after all this time.

John McGuinness, a committee member of The Ridge Residents’ Association, in Blaauwberg, posted on Facebook earlier this month asking if anyone knew what was going on with the building.

Mr McGuinness feels the owners and the ward councillor have a responsibility to keep residents informed about what is planned for the building.

“A huge empty building has been an eyesore and mystery for five years now and is on prime beachfront land,” said Mr McGuinness.

However, councillor Nora Grose said she was as much in the dark about the hotel as residents were. She said she had asked the City’s planning department for answers only to be told “the hotel is busy with internal fittings”.

There seems to be some disagreement over whether anyone is living in the building.

A security guard at the site said contractors came in daily to work inside, but no one was living there.

However Mr McGuinness said it looked to him as if people were staying in the building because he had noticed curtains hanging in the rooms’ windows for at least a year and he had seen lights in some of the windows at night.

City spokesperson, Jyothi Naidoo, said people were living in the building, but Chris Thompson, a bouncer who works five days a week at a nearby restaurant said he didn’t think anyone lived there.

“Besides the security guards, there is no one that I can say frequents this building,” said Mr Thompson.

Table View Ratepayers’ Association spokeswoman, Mandy da Matta, said they would like the building to be used for its intended purpose. The building had the potential to boost tourism, and if the City upgraded the beachfront, the area could look like Sea Point, she said.