Consistent and widespread rumours that the Zoo Lake Bowling Club is soon to be transformed into a helipad for the influential Gupta family – and others living in the area close to the public park – have firmly been discounted by the Johannesburg Property Company (JPC).
The lease at the Zoo Lake Bowling Club expired in August last year and according to the chairman of the club, Rhona van Zyl, there was no renewal clause in the lease so an open tender process must determine the future of the club.
The JPC is due to issue the tender within the next few weeks.
The Zoo Lake Bowling Club grounds are part of the Herman Eckstein Park and were donated to the people of Johannesburg by Eckstein in 1904. Zoo Lake, as it is known today, is zoned as a public space and the bowling club must remain a bowling club as it cannot be rezoned or sold.
Van Zyl says that this means that wild speculation about plans to turn the club into a helipad or to develop it into a commercial centre have absolutely no foundation in reality and are nothing more than a wild figment of the imagination.
Ashton Bodrick of the JPC reaffirms this view and says the bowling club will remain a social site. “However, the tender processes must be transparent and unbiased,” says Bodrick. “There is a good chance the current club will win the tender because it has proven its credentials in managing and maintaining the Zoo Lake Bowling Club over the years,” he says.
Late last year, irate Saxonwold property owners captured photographs of a Sahara helicopter landing and taking off from Zoo Lake. The influential Gupta family own the Sahara computer company.
It is this event that fuelled speculation that the Zoo Lake Bowling Club’s lease would not be reviewed and it would be transformed into a helipad.
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