The Tshwane Metro Council is facing a R44 million claim instituted by a firm of architects which won a design competition for its new municipal headquarters.
An architectural model of the building which was meant to replace Munitoria, as seen from Proes Street.
The competition, known as Project Phoenix, was run by the then Pretoria City Council, in consultation with the Pretoria Institute of Architects.
More than 70 entries were received for the competition, which was launched in November 1998 and was aimed at finding a suitable design for Munitoria, which was gutted by fire in 1997. The municipality unveiled the new-look Munitoria in July 1999.
The company's damages claim in the Pretoria High Court is based on an agreement with the council regarding the rebuilding of Munitoria.
The firm said that after the building was gutted by fire, it entered into an agreement with the council after having won the competition.
The firm had suffered damages of R44m as the council had cancelled the agreement.
The council, which is defending the claim, admitted that it had entered into an agreement with the firm as winner of the competition.
But one of the rules was that the construction of the new building had to fall within the financial means of the council.
Following a feasibility study on the construction of the new building, it was decided not to proceed, but to investigate setting up a publicprivate partnership for the construction of the new headquarters, it said.
The council denied that there was any agreement with the architectural firm after April 2003 in terms of which the firm was commissioned and appointed as architect for the building of the new municipal headquarters.
It admitted that the firm did render certain architectural services to the council relating to the design and planning of the new building, but said the firm was paid R3.2m for this and the council thus owed it nothing more.
Gerrit Jordaan, a partner in the firm, said they had sought payment from the municipality for services rendered after they were adjudged winners of the design competition.
Jordaan said they wanted to proceed with the project but could not do so because of council delays.
According to Jordaan, the municipality had insisted that they form a joint venture with a black economic empowerment company, with his company having a 70 percent stake in the joint venture while the BEE company would have a 30 percent share in the project.
The municipality's legal representative, Sam Maritz, argued that the municipality did not have funds to proceed with the project, which was estimated at R660m at that stage (2003/2004).
There was also a need to conduct a feasibility study for the project, which was now estimated to cost R2 billion, the court heard.
Jordaan agreed it would appear that the municipality did not have the necessary funds to complete the project at that stage.
He added it was not their call to decide whether the project went ahead or not.