Maintaining the success of the Cape Town CBD in a depressed economic environment was paramount to ensuring it continued to attract all-important investment.
This is the view of Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) chairperson Rob Kane, who was speaking at the company’s 19th annual general meeting, held at Sunsquare hotel last week.
Mr Kane said the CCID, which celebrated its 19th clean audit in a row, had made great strides in enabling the Cape Town CBD to move away from “the rather desperate crime and grime scenario” it had fallen into 19 years go.
“Today we have a vibrant central city with property valuations climbing from just over R6 billion in 2006 to close to R43 billion in 2018, which is year-on-year growth of 18%. This is a world-class city that continues to win global awards.”
While it was important to celebrate the city’s successes, he said the year in review, which runs from July 1 2018 to June 30 2019, had been a difficult one, if not the most difficult he had experienced in his long association with the CCID.
Conditions on the ground had “changed substantially”, and the CCID had found it increasingly challenging to deliver on its mandate.
Mr Kane urged all stakeholders who had a vested interest in the success of the city centre to reassess “where we want this city to be in two, three, 10 years’ time” and take responsibility for their role in its vision.
“Without that shared responsibility, we will not retain our existing investment – and we certainly won’t attract new investment,” he said.
CCID CEO Tasso Evangelinos said the tight economy had pushed the CCID to its limits, and it had become more and more difficult for the company to meet the increasing demands of a lively, dynamic city centre that operates 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
“While we have always operated in an ever-evolving central city, in the year under review this environment was shaped by harsh economic realities that presented more challenges than rewards.”
“While the CCID continued to work closely with its partners, including the City and the police, a growing CBD demanded additional resources “not only from the CCID but also from our primary partners”, said Mr Evangelinos. “It also requires us to continue working together to ensure that the Cape Town CBD remains the most successful in the South Africa.”
Mr Kane said the CCID found itself in the position of no longer providing so-called top-up services to those of the City of Cape Town and SAPS but “in the first line of defence, becoming the dominant service provider”.
“This is something we are neither mandated, nor equipped, to do and this reality puts a lot of pressure, and I believe, too much pressure, on the CCID.”
Mr Evangelinos said in the year under review, addressing safety and security issues in the CBD – with its daily footfall of more than 300 000 people, as well as an active night-time economy – had been of prime concern.
“During the year under review, there were a spate of armed robberies in the city centre.
“There was also an increase in petty crime. To enhance its presence and prioritize safety, our safety and security department increased the number of public safety officers operating in the CBD to 300, and the number of CCID-funded Law Enforcement Officers to 20,” said Mr Evangelinos.
There were previously 270 public security officers. In the year under review, the safety and security department had made over 745 arrests with its law enforcement partners and conducted 105 624 crime-preventiont initiatives.
The CCID had also faced growing and challenging social and urban management issues. He said it was imperative that everyone strives to retain the benefits established by the CCID 19 years ago to turn the central city around.
Mr Kane said the city centre was not only the country’s most successful CBD, but “probably the only successful CBD in South Africa”. However, retaining this status quo and the city’s centre’s reputation as an attractive investment destination required “deep focus”.
“We all know and accept that much of the rates revenue generated in the CBD is spent in more needy areas, which is a sound principle. However, we need to guard that CBD rates base very, very carefully,” he said.