2019 State of Cape Town Central City Report Launched

Published recently, by the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID), the report noted that the Central City “held its own quite remarkably” in the year under review, despite 2019 being “incredibly difficult”, according to CCID board chairperson Rob Kane.

Says Kane: “Stakeholders and investors in the CBD have had to cope with the aftermath of the 2018 drought and subsequent water crisis, ongoing load shedding and a tough economic climate.”

Five-part section on on ‘Surviving Covid-19’

Though the coronavirus pandemic falls beyond the ambit of the SCCR report, a five-part section of the report is devoted to reflections on “Surviving Covid-19” by Wesgro CEO Tim Harris, Economic Development Partnership CEO Andrew Boraine, HTI Consulting CEO Wayne Troughton and economist Brian Kantor of Investec Wealth and Investment and Arthur Kamp, chief economist, Sanlam Investments.

Kane acknowledges the “global devastation” Covid-19 has caused, noting that it “has damaged the Central City’s economy”, but its economic performance means the Central City is well-placed to navigate a path to recovery.

Property evaluation

The SCCR report shows that, according to the City of Cape Town’s 2018/2019 property evaluation, the value of Central City property stands at R44.124bn, and that the total value of property investments in the Central City – recently completed, under construction, proposed or planned – is R13.83bn.

This is broken down into:

  • R1,045,000,000 – A conservative estimate of the value of property completed in the Central City during 2019 but which still has to be officially assessed by the City of Cape Town (seven projects);
  • R3,730,000,000 – The value of property, conservatively estimated, that is under construction (14 projects);
  • R5,196,000,000 – The value of property, conservatively estimated, that is currently in the planning phase (11 projects); and
  • R3,860,000,000 – The value of property, conservatively estimated, that is currently proposed and is expected to begin construction within the next two years (six projects).

The Foreshore precinct has emerged as a key property investment node which is due, in part, to the expansion in 2018 of the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), which achieved a turnover of R277m in 2018/2019. “This world-class venue, which contributed R4.5bn to the Western Cape GGP, was a key driver in 2019 of the Central City’s visitor economy as well as its knowledge and eventing economy, all of which continued to expand in 2019.”

The eighth edition of the SCCR reflects on the bigger picture of the economy of the Central City, looking at property trends, occupancy rates of commercial and residential buildings, retail vacancies, the prominent economies of the Central City and trends in commercial and residential markets.

Among other key findings in the report are that:

For the third consecutive year, Cape Town had the lowest overall vacancy rate of 7. % of the country’s five largest metros. According to the SAPOA Office Vacancy Report (Q4 2019), the city’s vacancy rate compares very favourably to that of Johannesburg (12.5%) and is well below the national office vacancy rate of 11%.

The Central City vacancy rate has continued its gradual decline from a peak of 11.8% at the end of 2018 to 10.8% at the end of 2019 – a decline of 15,127m2 of space available for rent. This is at least partially attributable to the reduction in office space due to redevelopment during 2019.

A new urbanism trend gained traction in South Africa in 2019 in spite of a sluggish housing market, increasing demand for downtown living in the Central City. This has prompted the re-imagining of precincts in the Central City by developers into spaces where homeowners can live, work and play in areas that provide a safe and secure environment with easy access to work. With affordability a major issue for many young professionals, developers are responding with a growing number of studio apartments and co-living units within mixed-use developments. In 2019, small apartments with shared amenities officially became hot property, giving first-time buyers the opportunity to enter the housing market in a desirable city centre.

In 2019, the Central City residential market finally felt the effects of the economic and political headwinds which have dampened activity in the national and regional housing markets in recent years. The distribution of sales across the various price bands was similar to that seen in 2018, with the largest number of sales recorded in the R30,000 – R39,000/m2 category. No sales were recorded in the top price bracket (more than R60,000/m2) last year, while two sales were recorded in 2018.

The report includes separate sections providing a detailed look at key elements of the Central City economy, including:

  • The Art Economy: With Cape Town firmly established as the art capital of Africa, the financial contribution of the creative sector to the Central City economy is undeniable;
  • The Visitor Economy: With three new hotels opening in the Central City in 2019, several mixed-use developments and aparthotels either being constructed or in the pipeline, the CBD’s multi-layered visitor economy continued to expand in spite of a tight economy;
  • The Night-time Economy: There is growing awareness of the potential of the Central City’s night-time economy, but it remains an unexplored resource. A recent research partnership between the City of Cape Town, the CCID and the University of Cape Town will provide a better understanding of the night-time economy of the Central City and how to better use the night as a resource for social and economic development; and
  • The Knowledge and Eventing Economy: The Central City’s knowledge and eventing economy continues to expand every year, driving business into the region as local and international visitors and business tourists stream into the CBD to attend official events and conventions in and around the public spaces in downtown Cape Town.

The report also features a detailed analysis of residential and commercial rentals, and highlights from the CCID’s residential and retail surveys.


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Cape Town Concerned Over Non-adherence to COVID Safety Protocols Like Mask Wearing and Sanitizing. City Warns of Second Wave of Virus

Cape Town’s health department has expressed concerns over the increase in non-adherence to safety protocols, saying this could lead to a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

Mayoral committee member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien, said some residents were no longer wearing face masks in public and social distancing protocols were being ignored by many businesses.

Badroodien feared the work that went into halting the spread of the coronavirus could soon be undone if citizens dropped their collective guard.

“Our environmental health practitioners are particularly concerned about the number of people who are going about their business in public without masks, as well as crowd management in shops, malls and other public amenities,” said Badroodien.

“Cape Town worked very hard to overcome the peak of the pandemic so we could start focusing on rebuilding lives, communities and the economy. All of this hard work will be undermined if we drop our collective guard.”

Over the past few months, the Covid-19 caseload and related fatalities have decreased significantly, with fewer cases registered every day.

On Tuesday, SA recorded 1,027 Covid-19 cases, pushing the number to 683,242. There were 87 deaths reported compared to 40 on Monday, and 15 were from the Western Cape. This brings the total number of deaths to 17,103.

Badroodien said a second wave could set Cape Town back from making progress in decreasing the number of deaths.

“I hear far too many anecdotes about the pandemic being a thing of the past. This is not true, particularly if one looks at the many countries where lockdowns have had to be reintroduced as a result of a second wave of infections,” he said.

“Cape Town and SA must take heed from these cautionary tales and do everything possible to mitigate the risk of a second wave here.

“We therefore urge the public to continue abiding by the health and hygiene protocols and to wear a mask at all times in public to help avoid a second wave of infections locally, or at the very least mitigate the impact thereof.”

Second wave plan

According to health minister Zweli Mkhize, a plan has been tabled should the country be hit with a second wave.

TimesLIVE reported that Mkhize told a webinar hosted by the SA Medical Association that while the worst was over, SA may still be facing a second surge.

He said the plan would follow the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) guidelines on how to deal with the second wave.

“Of course, we may still be facing a second surge. I think we all speculate about how likely that is because many of the countries that are overtaking SA are in a second surge. Whether it’s going to be like that in SA depends, of course, on how we deal with our containment measures,” said Mkhize.


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Cape Town Dam Levels at Historic 100.8%

The Mother City has come a long way since Day Zero. The dams supplying Cape Town with water are at an historic 100.8%, and are full for the first time since 2014.

The latest dam level reading shows that levels increased by 1.3% to 100.8% in the last week. The fullest dams are Theewaterskloof at 101.7%, Steenbras Lower at 101% and Berg River at 100.7%. The remaining major dams are just under 100%.

This time last year, dams were 81.4% full, in 2018 they were 75.9% full and in 2017, an astounding 37.7% full. Theewaterskloof, the Western Cape’s largest source of water, is currently overflowing. Three years ago the very same dam was at 12.9% full, and Cape Town was days away from being the first city in the world to run out of potable water.

On October 2, the City announced that the dams have reached 100% capacity, thanks to an intensive whole-of-society effort to protect our available water supply before, during and after the shock of Day Zero.

“It is clear that as a society we have completely changed our relationship with water,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Waste, Alderman Xanthea Limberg. “The City’s water saving achievements have been internationally lauded, with the International Water Association naming Cape Town the world’s number 1 water saving city for reducing demand by 55% between 2015 and 2018 without resorting to intermittent supply.”

However, Limberg warns that this exciting milestone does not indicate permanent water security. “Full dams may give the impression that our troubles are over, but rainfall this year was only just above average. Low consumption has also contributed to the recovery of the dams. Although there is some room to relax, we need to remain vigilant that water consumption remains at a water wise level and proceed diligently with additional water sources including groundwater, reuse and desalination as outlined in the City’s Water Strategy,” she said.

She warns that another drought could strike, and last much longer than the one The Mother City battled over the last few years. “Climate change studies undertaken by the City indicate that droughts such as the one we have just experienced will occur more often and last longer.”

On the question of easing water tariffs, Limberg adds that appropriate tariffs and restrictions for the 2020/21 hydrological year (which runs from November 1 to October 31) are currently taking place. “Tariffs are currently on the second lowest level possible in terms of the City’s 2020/21 Budget, and have come down significantly since the peak of the drought. The no restriction, water-wise tariff which is under consideration will provide some relief, but with due cognisance of the importance that sufficient funding is available to continue increasing our resilience. “Also being taken into consideration is the projected increase of the proportion of residents needing indigent support, in part due to the deteriorated national economic climate.”

Read the dam report here: Dam Levels October 5


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Western Cape Remains the South African Province Most Affected by COVID-19

The Western Cape remains the country’s worst affected province, with over 20 000 cases making it by far the province in most urgent need of monitoring, especially as the country collectively moves into Alert Level 3 Lockdown measures (the transition for which began on 1 June).

Heath Minister Zweli Mkhize arrived in Cape Town on Monday 1 June along with the new Director General (DG) of the Department of Health, Dr Sandile Buthelezi, to discuss the ailing province’s success in stemming its rapidly increasing COVID-19 infection rate. 

Buthelezi was appointed DG on, and enters the political arena at a time when his department is under constant pressure to keep tabs on the successes of intervention strategies across the country.

CTICC Field Hospital Up and Running

Mkihize and his new colleague linked up with Premier Alan Winde and provincial health officials to discuss the province’s response to their hotspot areas, with the majority of the country’s hotspots found in the Western Cape. 

The Health department duo were led on a tour of the newly established field hospital at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) where Mkhize said 862 beds are ready to be utilised when necessary.

The field hospital will be able to accommodate those with mild cases of COVID-19 but who may require hospitalisation, and is one of five such facilities erected in the province in the last month. 

The Thusong Centre in Khayelitsha is another such site, and is situated in one of the province’s worst hit hotspots, where social distancing is challenging as a result of dire congestion. 

Two Thirds of Positive Cases in the Western Cape

The Western Cape now has 21 382 positive cases of COVID-19, and 503 people have lost their lives to the virus in the province. 

A total of 11 099 people have successfully recovered from the virus. 

Mkhize will be hoping that his new colleague, Buthelezi, will be able to assist him in providing support to the ailing province. 

Buthelezi was formerly thecvief director in the Department of Health in KZN, and will now take command as the accounting officer in the department of health. 

“Dr Buthelezi is an experienced leader in health management, starting when he was superintendent of Nkandla Hospital, then at Grey’s Hospital and going on to become a chief director in the Department of Health in KwaZulu-Natal on  HIV and maternal and child health programmes,” said Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo upon the confirmation of Buthelezi’s appointment. 

“We are looking forward to reaping the benefit of his experience in other areas he has worked in and to take the department to greater heights. We congratulate the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize for identifying Dr Buthelezi at this stage to lead the department under these challenging circumstances.”

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Developer of 18-Storey Building in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town Pleased with SCA Ruling

The developer of a controversial 18-storey building in Bo-Kaap is pleased with the outcome of a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) case.

This after the court dismissed the Bo-Kaap Ratepayers and Civic Association’s application against the Western Cape High Court’s decision to approve construction of a R1billion high-rise building in the area.

Vantage Properties Managing Director José Rodrigues said: “This ruling vindicated the due process we followed throughout the application. Furthermore, we do not believe there was ever a basis for this litigation.”

In a lengthy judgment delivered on Tuesday, the SCA said it had been unable to find any irregularities in the city council’s decision-making process.

Judge Mahomed Navsa said: “The court held that the City and the mayor had arrived at the decisions in a balanced fashion, that they did not act unreasonably or irrationally. The mayor and the City did not commit an error of law and they did not ultimately hold a rigid view that base zoning rights trumped all countervailing considerations.”

Rodrigues said his company had always considered the heritage of Bo-Kaap during the process and it was aware of the impact the development would have.

“We respect the heritage of the Bo-Kaap and strong sense of community, but are also aware that the noise generated around this development was not so much about the Bo-Kaap community’s antagonism, but rather that of immediate neighbours who are concerned their views will be impacted,” he said.

The development would comprise flats, retail and office space and 310 basement parking bays.

The association’s secretary, Jacky Poking, said: “We are in discussion with our legal team about the decision and what our options are.

“We are still processing the decision. We are concerned about the impact on our living heritage and the erosion of our way of life due to gentrification.”

Marian Nieuwoudt, Mayco member for spatial planning and environment, said: “The City notes the outcome. We are still studying the judgment and have no further comment.”

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