‘In bad taste’

An artists impression of the proposed design of the WEX One building in Albert Road

Plans to develop a new joint residential and retail project for Woodstock were unveiled last week, much to the excitement of developers… but the response from locals was more sombre.

Construction on the new development starts in May next year, with work set to finish in the final quarter of 2018.

Not everybody is in favour of the new development, especially with the dust only settling after the recent Bromwell Street evictions, with many saying it’s too soon.

After a string of houses were snapped up by another developer, Woodstock Hub, 28 families living in Bromwell Street received eviction orders, and, despite the matter going to court, the families were asked to leave, but many weren’t prepared to do so without a fight, (“Bromwell Street residents stand up,” Tatler, September 1).

Nasheera Daniels has lived in Woodstock for 33 years. She knew most of the people from Bromwell Street and said it was “inconsiderate” to be releasing plans about a new development for their community.

“People are still getting over the fact that these people were kicked to the kerb in such fashion.

“This development is not for us. Our area is being taken over and it looks like there is nothing we can do but sit back and watch these people kick our family and friends out,” she fumed.

“This development is not for our people. I’m not just saying this for the sake of saying something.

“I am saying this because it’s true. When the building opens, rich people are going to move in

here, and if turns out to be successful, the owners of this building will just look for more places to buy, which equals more people on the street.”

Brian Andrews feels the WEX One project might be good for the developers, but it’s not going to benefit those who have called Woodstock home for generations. “Fancy terms” such as “regeneration” and “community upliftment” ring very hollow for him.

“The development will kick out more Woodstock people and Woodstock businesses to bring in more people that already have money. This project is a true case of the richer getting richer. People say we only complain and that we should be open to change, but we can’t be like that, because people are losing their homes to these people (developers). People that have been here for years now have to give up everything they built or worked for, because some rich guys saw an opportunity,” he said.

“The project sounds amazing and it looks like it’s going to receive lots of attention, but this development is not for our people – end of story”.

WEX One, by Cape Town property developers Signatura and Indigo Properties, owners of the Old Biscuit Mill and Woodstock Exchange, will have 217 flats on six floors with two levels of parking and more than 1 500 square metres of retail space on the ground floor.

Co-founder of Indigo Properties, Jody Aufrichtig, said they had been buying up old factories in the Woodstock area up until nine months ago for the WEX One development.

“While we have extensive local knowledge of the Woodstock neighbourhood, there is no one who understands residential developments better and has more experience in quality residential developments than John Rabie (founder of Signatura). So we should make a formidable team, as this is a very high growth area that is much in demand,” he said.

The WEX One project would showcase furniture and fittings from the designers, artists and craftspeople of Woodstock Exchange, Woodstock Foundry and The Old Biscuit Mill.

The commercial sector of the new development would be treated as an extension of the Woodstock Exchange.

David Cohen, marketing director for Signatura, said:”This is not the first development in Woodstock, but it will offer lifestyle and user-friendly features that will make living at WEX One very appealing – and not just because it is so conveniently located about three kilometres from the city centre.” The WEX One site is bounded by Albert Road, Davison, Grey and Alexander streets, with access to Woodstock railway station, MyCiti bus routes and cycle lanes.

The flats will be on floors four to nine, with views of the mountain, city and harbour. They will range from 42 square metre studios for R1.4 million, excluding optional parking, to one-bedroom units of 53 square metres and two- bedroom units spanning 70 to 90 square metres.

The developers say the WEX One design “represents a contemporary and contextual response to the traditional brick warehouses in the area”.

Charles Louw, associate of Vivid Architects, said: “It will adopt the brick, glass and steel of the rail-side industrial warehouses, reformed into a contemporary aesthetic, while still aiming to retain classic, timeless appeal.”

WEX One residents will also enjoy access to fast fibre internet, 24-hour security as well as a relaxing internal garden space, with an on-site pool, gym and laundry.

The ground floor shops will be fronted with 5m steel and glass shopfronts, with public access into a highly visible, yet well-protected internal retail street running parallel to Albert Road. New landscaping and paving will tie this new building to the Woodstock Exchange.

The commercial sector of this new development will be treated as an extension of the Woodstock Exchange with negotiations under way with a well-known supermarket group and coffee shop, and Mr Aufrichtig hopes the “extremely fast internet” will attract the many creative industry entrepreneurs in the area.

Mr Cohen said other retail outlets could include a gin distillery or whisky tasting room.

“Wex One, located on a pivotal site, will complement the successful urban regeneration in the area and elevate it to a new level,” he said.