By Chris McCallum
Pic by :Matthew Theijssen
Four new complexes, which will accommodate over 100 people, are in the process of construction on and off African Street. These will ease accommodation pressures, as the amount of Rhodes students increase every year. This year, the amount of new students increased by approximately 10% and the University has struggled to find accommodation for these students.
Summer Place, one of the complexes on the corner of African and Summerset Street, has come under scrutiny for its four month (and counting), delay on completion, with students having to stay in bed and breakfasts until the complex is completed.
Gavin Krastin, an Honours Drama student, is one of the tenants affected by the delay. Krastin had planned on moving into Summer Place in January 2009, but due to bad construction and unsatisfactory work, he had to find alternative accommodation and has been staying in a bed and breakfast in Grahamstown. According to witnesses, the complex did not have a solid foundation and the walls were skew.
Alex Richardson, another Honours Drama student, has also been displaced by the delay in construction. “It is unacceptable and that the onus has been on us to approach Remax and find out updates on the development. It’s unfair for us to keep moving and it is also unfair for us to live on a construction site – we shouldn’t have to be worrying about these situations,” said Richardson.
Amanda Broom – from Wise Up Deals, the developers of the complex – explains that the delay is the result of changing contractors. Broom said that they were “not satisfied with the brickwork and so contractors were changed.”
In an attempt to ease the tension, Wise Up Deals agreed to subsidise the difference between rent at Summer Place and the cost of a bed and breakfast, in order to accommodate the students left without housing. Krastin commented that the delay “is unacceptable and that each time we have to move all our belongings, we do so at our own cost.” Remax manager, Jean Rogerson, confirmed that they were “attempting to accommodate students and were actively liaising between the affected students and Wise Up Deals.”
Matthew von Abo, a fourth year BJourn student, was the first tenant in the newly constructed complex Kudu’s Kloof. “It was clear that the job hadn’t been done properly. It is not expected that a new house would have so many faults,” said Von Abo. According to Von Abo, contractors had to keep coming back to fix things in the complex.
Broom said that the development is now “going great and on-track” with a number of the apartments expected to be ready for occupation in June of this year. Broom said that their aim in Grahamstown is to provide “affordable, good investments, offering comfort for students in a secure environment.”
Summer Place has been fully sold, with rentals available as soon as development is completed. The apartments are all two bedroom, en-suite and equipped with kitchen appliances. Rogerson has said that the complex will have “electric fencing and a guard house”. Aries Nest, another complex, offers a further 40 apartments. Aquitaine Way offers 24 apartments. Aquitaine Way is currently being sold and Rogerson notes that “once sales have progressed further, we can expect construction to start.”
Rogerson said “rentals are available now and for next year and that the complex offers electric fencing, a remote gate and off-street parking.”
Rogerson also said students interested in renting in the new developments should come into Remax and put their names on a list. “Come July, current tenants decide if they intend extending their leases through 2010 and, if not, rentals are offered on a first come first served basis,” explained Rogerson.