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Drive to Revitalise the Cape Town CBD

9 October 2020

The City of Cape Town has announced plans to revitalise the central business district (CBD).

In a statement, Cape Town Executive Mayor, Alderman Dan Plato, said City authorities recognised that the CBD and other commercial areas required specific attention and immediate interventions to help breathe life back into them.

The City informed the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) of the economic recovery plans for the area at business engagement on 8 October 2020.

According to the CCID’s annual report, the CBD is 1,6 square kilometres and at the end of 2019, the CBD housed just over 3 300 businesses, with more than one million square metres of office space available.

The overall official nominal value of property in the CBD is R44 billion, with R3,7 worth of construction currently underway and a further R5,1 billion in the planning phase. The CBD also hosts 69 corporate head offices.

Relief for businesses

The COVID-19 health crisis and the corresponding national lockdown regulations have undoubtedly had a devastating impact on the economy of Cape Town, in particular the CBD and many of Cape Town’s commercial zones.

“These initial recovery interventions will bring much relief to businesses in the City Bowl, while our broader economic recovery plan for the whole of Cape Town is finalised by the City’s Executive Management and Mayoral Committee teams,” said Mayor Plato.

Alderman Grant Twigg, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Management, said: “COVID-19 forced us to think out of the box and look at new innovative ways of doing things. We therefore can only commend the initiative to rent out sidewalks to restaurants and help them deal with social distancing.”

Subcouncil 16 (SC16), which is responsible for the City’s CBD, has already set up a task team to initiate economic recovery of the area.

Five work streams

This task team comprises of five work streams to address decreased footfall, shop closures, increased criminal activity and urban decay within the CBD due to the lack of utilisation of space.

The five workstreams include:

These interventions will provide a blueprint for other sub-councils to employ in their own commercial centres; thereby bringing life back to all areas of economic and social interaction, in a safe and responsible manner.

Sidewalk rental scheme

The first intervention the City has initiated is to provide restaurants with the option to rent the sidewalks in front of their establishments for outdoor seating, at a reduced rate, for the next six months.

To find out more about this initiative and to apply, establishments are encouraged to visit Invest Cape Town.

“This call to action is to offer establishments the opportunity to welcome more patrons as the increased space will allow for social distancing. We hope that this will also encourage residents to enjoy outdoor social activities, which has been shown to decrease the risk of COVID infections and improve the safety of patrons,” said Alderman James Vos, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management.

“The City is directing initial efforts towards the CBD, as the jewel in Cape Town’s crown, not only as a tourism and investment perspective, but socially too. Its success as an attractive place to live, work and play is the result of concerted efforts from the City, its partners, and Cape Town’s residents.”

More initiatives coming

Further announcements involving the CBD and other commercial centres around the city will follow in the coming months.

These will include elements such as an activation and place-making programme, along with medium-term interventions enabling the CBD to adjust to the changes that have taken place in the world of work due to the COVID crisis.

The City also recognises the need for a long-term strategy to address the social and economic constraints intensified by COVID, and has drafted the Inclusive Economic Growth Strategy (IEGS) currently open for public comment.