After years of passing by the empty lot where the old Centre Point mall once stood, Milnerton residents were excited to see cranes and steam rollers moving onto the property on the corner of Loxton and Koeberg roads, last week.
A board showing what the completed mall will look like was shared multiple times by residents on the Milnerton Neighbours Facebook page, as the demolished mall was seen as the heart of the suburb.
After being bought by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), Centre Point was demolished on March 11 2013 to make way for a new development (“Derelict shopping centre pulled down,” Tabletalk, April 17 2013). But the plan faced many obstacles, and residents have had to contend with a huge hole where Centre Point once stood.
Neighbouring businesses previously complained that the demolition had hurt their trade as there was less foot traffic in the area (“A hole lot of nothing,” Tabletalk, August 15 2015).
Residents also said there were no shops nearby which elderly residents could pop into, like before. Now it is hoped the new development will return some vibrancy to that corner of Milnerton.
Milnerton resident Peter John Andrianatos, commenting on the Milnerton Neighbours Facebook page, said: “From a sad point or sore point to once again regain its old title of Milnerton’s Centre Point”.
Jann Gill said the activity on the site is a “positive step for Milnerton”, to which Donna Arden agreed. “It’s positive. Freshens and opens Milnerton.”
While positive sentiments on the development were shared, concerns were raised in another post about a section of Langerman Avenue, situated between Loxton and Knysna roads, which will be closed during construction.
Builders on site confirmed this, saying construction materials and equipment were being fenced off on the closed street.
Mayco member for transport Brett Herron, said the road would be closed for about two years.
He said residents had been told beforehand, and the road would be open for pedestrians and cyclists.
“None of the residential properties have access off that portion of Langerman Avenue. In addition, this section of Langerman Avenue functioned as a one-way street. When the new development comes into operation, it is envisaged that Langerman Avenue will be turned into a two-way road, which will be to the benefit of all road users,” said Mr Herron.
Bouwe van der Eems, a member of the Milnerton Central Residents’ Association (MCRA) responsible for the land use portfolio, said the development would greatly improve central Milnerton.
“Due to developments such as Key West, the population density of Milnerton centre is increasing. The Centre Point development will also address the retail needs of this increased population,” he said.
Traffic flow through Milnerton is problematic, due to roadworks on Koeberg Road, and the closure of the road at Centre Point exacerbates this situation, he said.
“When this road is reopened, it should be reconsidered whether it should continue to be a one-way road or two-way. Being a one-way caused a lot of confusion for residents,” he said.
He added that “like any development” a construction project always has negative effects on the residents living nearby.
“It generates a lot of dust and noise. The residents in upper Knysna Road are experiencing double inconvenience. They were affected by the construction of Key West in the past year, and now they will be affected by Centre Point for another year. The developers could perhaps consider compensating the residents in Knysna Road with a shopping voucher at Centre Point when they open,” he said.
The new development will house big retailers and give opportunities for small retailers to trade.
PIC spokesman Sekgoela Sekgoela previously told Tabletalk the new centre would have an entrance off Koeberg Road, with two floors, and retailers such as Pick * Pay would be on the first floor, and banking facilities and restaurants on the second floor. He also said housing units would be built on top of the mall, which would feature a courtyard for residents to enjoy (“Centre’s point of no return,” Tabletalk February 24.)
On Monday August 29, Mr Sekgoela said these units would not be for sale but would be put up for rent.
“Forty-eight rental units – a combination of one and two bedrooms – will be constructed. The development includes parking for tenants. These units will target the middle to high income individuals,” said Mr Sekgoela.
He said the traffic impact assessment accommodated residents who would rent the units.
* Additional reporting by Summer Jacobs.