Innocent Ruwende Municipal Reporter
Harare City Council has stalled plans by African Sun Limited to expand Crowne Plaza Hotel to include a state-of the-art conference centre and an international themed open air restaurant and a bar among other facilities.
Councillors fear they may sell the Harare Gardens to the group and want to carry out a site visit for them to make an informed decision.
The hotel group wants to buy two hectares stretching north into Harare Gardens covering the portion encumbered by Les Brown Swimming Pool as well as the portion measuring 2 050 square metres currently being occupied by the car park at an estimated cost of $1,76 million.
According to the latest minutes of the Finance and Development Committee, African Sun intends to develop among other things a conference centre, parking space, refurbishment of the Les Brown Swimming Pool and other facilities on the piece of land. “During discussion, the committee noted that the total area for Harare Gardens measured about 17,5 hectares of which two hectares was being recommended for sale to the hotel.
“The committee expressed the view that it would not be in the best interest of council to sell the land as this was public land for the benefit of Hararians and that allocation of such land would distort the image of Harare Gardens,” reads part of the minutes.
Finance director Mr Justin Mandizha, however, explained that the hotel would also be mandated to upgrade the outlook of Harare Gardens.
“The committee felt that in order to make an informed decision there was need to conduct a site visit of the land in question.”
Mr Mandizha was also requested to prepare an analysis highlighting the financial benefits that would accrue to council once the land had been ceded to the hotel.