Rissik Street landmark to be restored

Posted On Wednesday, 20 October 2010 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Rissik Street Post Office, a heritage building in Johannesburg that was gutted by fire two years ago, is being restored and should have a new roof by the end of December.

Amos MasondoThe Rissik Street Post Office, a heritage building in Johannesburg that was gutted by fire two years ago, is being restored and should have a new roof by the end of December.

The final cost of the restoration is not yet known, Kululwa Muthwa of the Johannesburg Property Company said yesterday at a meeting of the City of Johannesburg’s Inner City Charter Partnership Forum, chaired by mayor Amos Masondo.

The forum consists of top city officials, private investors, and business and community leaders interested and involved in improving Joburg’s inner city.

The post office, which was decommissioned in 1995, was built in 1897 by Dutch architect Sytze Wierda, making it one of the city’s oldest landmark buildings. At one time it was the tallest building in Johannesburg.

It was declared a national monument in 1978 but vandalised as it stood empty. Last year two fires almost destroyed it.

Ms Muthwa said yesterday the restoration is nearing the end of its first phase of clearing and salvaging. “Progress in clearing the debris has been slow due to the painstaking care contractors had to take to ensure their safety and to sift through the building’s remains for salvageable remains.”

During the clearing of the debris from the fire, contractors and assessors discovered that some of the interior walls were unstable and needed bracing.

Ms Muthwa said the costs to be recovered by the city from the insurers will only be known once the first phase of the restoration is complete. “Once this has been established, it will be determined how much the city would need to raise from its budget or a possible public-private partnership to fund the full restoration of the building,” she said .

Heritage experts are providing oversight for the project, which could take up to two years to complete.

Director of the arts, culture and heritage department, Erik Itzken, said the city is also restoring Chancellor House, close to the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court, where Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo had their law firm’s offices. He hopes it will become home to a human rights resource centre.

“The city has earmarked R10m for its restoration, which will include creating an attractive exterior reflecting the building’s history to passers-by,” Mr Itzken said.

Last modified on Thursday, 15 May 2014 08:09

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