While the past year had been a testing one for businesses in the city centre, in the Cape Town CBD the inner-city economy was on the way to recovery and it was time to “move forward vigorously” to create a “new normal” in town.
These were the words of City Central Improvement District (CCID) chairperson Rob Kane, speaking at the organisation’s annual general meeting, which took place on Monday November 14 at a rooftop venue in the city centre.
Mr Kane said: “It is easy to see why we have R5.7 billion of development activity going on right now. That’s quite extraordinary when you look at this against a backdrop of two-and-a-half years of Covid and a slow economy.
“Covid-19 threw many curveballs at us, but we have emerged on the other side of the pandemic and there is a lot to be grateful for – more and more people are streaming into town to do business, to work, to live and to have a good time.
“Landlords are creating more people-friendly office environments and urban spaces, big events and conferences are back, tourism has picked up and we’re anticipating a bumper season, new buildings are being constructed, old buildings are being renovated …”
He said the number of apartments being built was also on the increase. Up until a few years ago, he said, the city centre was static on about 5 700 units, but “quite soon”, there will be around 9 000 apartments in the CBD.
He said the CBD was experiencing increasing traffic volumes, with more people coming back to the area, and people returning to work.
Due to the increased footfall after the pandemic, the CCID had, in the past year, increased its safety programmes and spent more time keeping the city centre clean.
The CCID chief executive officer, Tasso Evangelinos, said during the financial year in review which spans from July 1 2021 ending June 30 2022, the country was still at level 4 of the Covid lockdown.
“Many of our venues were closed but as restrictions started lifting, things started looking up. It’s a relief that we have new energy in town.”
He said when lockdown restrictions were lifted, the CCID needed to think about how they were going to make people come back to town and enjoy what the CBD has to offer.
“The challenge we faced was how to help revive the local economy, support property owners and residents, and change perceptions to encourage people to return to town to do business, work, support restaurants and clubs, and enjoy what the CBD had to offer.
“We responded by creating new services, increasing budgets on existing services and reinvesting in the organisation in big and small projects to signal that the CBD was open for business.”
The CCID’s operational departments, namely safety and security, urban management, and social development, had adapted its strategies, cleaning the CBD, working with the homeless population and addressing social issues.
One of these strategies were a night-time cleaning operation between CCID with assistance from the City to deal with the increasing problem of illegally dumped waste.
Other projects included installing four public toilets in the CBD to counter the shortage of free ablution facilities in the CBD, and the wrapping of over 700 trees in colourful cloth to enliven the urban environment.
The communications department had also continued to promote the organisation’s work.
Last year, the CCID also said goodbye to its manager of social development, Pat Eddy, who had retired after 14 years. Board member Laura Robinson had also retired after seven years of service.
Property portfolio manager Joy Millar, Wesgro CEO Tim Harris, and Neighbourgood CEO Murray Clark were elected onto the board.
The CCID had also been given its 22nd clean audit.