Mall conflict brewing “I shall continue, regardless of suspension of permission to occupy”

namib times 14-08-15

mall  erongo

Following the suspension of Greenstone Resort (Pty) Ltd’s permission to occupy agreement by the Walvis Bay municipality on Wednesday, the developer, who intends to construct a ±N$1 billion mall (Erongo Mall) in the harbour town, yesterday indicated that they will continue with earthworks, regardless of this directive.

Greenstone Resorts’ Chief Executive Officer, Mr Timo Voges, yesterday told namib times that the Walvis Bay municipality failed to inform them during their initial negotiations, about four years ago, that, in order to buy a portion of land from a local council, ministerial approval is needed. This, according to Voges is the munici-

pality’s main reason for instructing them to halt the earthworks. “Who are at fault, we or the municipality? Why didn’t they, within almost four years, communicate with the mini-

stry in this regard?” he asked. The permission letter, to occupy new Portion 213 of Walvis Bay Town and Townlands No. 1 (in namib times’ possession) is dated 13 April 2015 and is undersigned by Mr Jack Manale (Mana-

ger, Housing and Pro-

perties), on behalf of Mr Agostinho Victor, the General Manager: Community and Economic Development. This letter indicates that approval is granted, provided that Greenstone “guarantees and indemnifies the Municipality of Walvis Bay against any action, claim or loss, injury or damages which the company or any third party may suffer as a direct result of this approval.”

Mr Voges further noted that the approximately 22 hectares of land, which they intend to buy, was valued for N$8 million by independent validators, appointed by the Walvis Bay municipality. Value Added Tax (VAT) of N$1.2 million and a landscaping fee of N$800 000 were added, which brought the value of the land to N$10 million, said Voges. He also indicated that the sales price was N$46 per square metre for the un-serviced land, but they also have to cough up N$400 per square metre to compact and level the un-serviced land, and included swamp and dunes.

Voges remarked that, as an entrepreneur, he saw the opportunity to develop these premises and decided to grab it. According to him, the then mayor of Walvis Bay, Mr Derek Klazen, was in favour of the idea, as it will bring development to the harbour town. Mr Voges says that they have followed all the procedures required to clinch the deal with the Walvis Bay municipality, including advertisements in the print media, approval from surrounding businesses (residents) and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). “The 10% deposit is set and I undersigned the sales agreement, about one month ago, but the Council has not signed it yet. Voges has furthermore indicated that they plan to spend around N$420 million for the first phase of the development and about 600-700 job opportunities will be created during the construction phase. Regarding Safland International Property Services, who are planning to develop a N$480 million shopping mall, also next to the Diaz traffic circle in Walvis Bay, only a stone’s throw away from the proposed Erongo Mall, Voges no-ted that they have no pro-blem with it, as it is a free market system. “We only want to also be given a fair chance and transpa-

rency is vital,” he said. He also informed the newspaper about a letter, supposedly badmouthing Greenstone, sent out to prospective anchor tenants by Safland. The matter ended up in the High Court, but was resolved, and Safland had to withdraw the notion, says Voges.

He informed the newspaper that they have brought the Atterbury Group, a South African company, which specialises in deve-

lopment of prime commercial, retail and residential property, on board. Atterbury is, according to Voges, a minority shareholder, with less than fifty percent shares. Voges emphasises the fact that the project will involve 97% Namibian shareholding and 3% South African  shareholding. He has indicated that Greenstone is planning to open the Erongo Mall during April 2017.

The newspaper contacted Safland’s chief executive officer, Mr Kallie van der Merwe, yesterday and he confirmed the High Court issue, noting that both parties are targeting the same market and that both brought certain facts under the clients’ attention. Van der Merwe remarked that “there is no place for two malls in Walvis Bay. One mall is enough for the town.” He indicated that they have bought the land from a private party and that it is already transferred in their name and paid for. Mr Van der Merwe indicated that all procedures were completed and they were only waiting for their building plans to be approved, before construction would kick off.

The Walvis Bay CEO, Mr Muronga Haingura, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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