Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa)

Ethiopia: Cottage Restaurant Goes Down for a Multi-Purpose High Rise

Cottage Restaurant, which had been in business for the past 50 years, mainly serving western dishes for mostly foreign customers, has been demolished, to comply with city's development plan, which has the site set aside for 20-33 storey buildings.

The site, located in Kirkos District around the Ambassador Theater onRas Desta Damtew St, has been subject of some dispute between Selamawit Gessesse, who had owned the restaurant business, and Tsigereda Zemui, whose parents owned the building and the land during Emperor Haileselassie's regime.

The property was nationalized during the Derg. Following the fall of the derg, however, it was decided that Tsigereda was the legal heir of the property in 1993/94, when the transitional government issued a proclamation to restore properties that were nationalized contrary to the law.

The restaurant had continued in business, despite the property changing hands.

In 2003/04 the Agency for Government Houses was instructed to hand over the property to Tsigereda. In between, however, Addis Abeba's Land Development & Administration Board had decided to allow Selamawit to lease the land following a request by her - an offer made available without an auction because she had been there in business for a long time, says Brehane Zer'aberuk, Compensation & Rehabilitation Officer at the Kirkos District Administration. Selamawit, who also owns Sweet Café aroundOlympiaonAfrica Avenue, was not able to do any development work then, but second decision was given in her favour in 2011, Brehane said.

That decision entailed an 800,000 Br compensation for Tsigereda together with a grant of an alternative plot of land, to be prepared when she turns up. She has, however, never turned up to claim either, and the money remains deposited in a blocked account, according to Brehane

Now it has been around two weeks since the old cottage restaurant has been demolished. Selamawit could not be reached for comment, despite repeated calls on her number, which she did not answer.

She could get a lease agreement once she has submitted a design for the new building within four months of the demolition, said an expert at the lease office of the district.

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