By Tamlynne Thompson
The Central City Improvement District (CCID) celebrated 21 years of service in the CBD at its annual general meeting, which took place at the Portside building on Monday November 15.
Speaking at the meeting, CCID chairperson Rob Kane said the organisation had transformed the city centre from a “no-go” area in 2000 into an economically successful CBD that today was able to attract “businesses big and small, visitors from all over the world, global corporate events and conferences” and was arguably the safest and cleanest city centre in South Africa.
CCID board member and CEO of communications consultancy Corporate Image, Tamra Capstick-Dale, who has been involved with the organisation since its inception, said: “When we got the approval to start the CCID, at the time we did not fully realise how sharp a corner had been turned. We didn’t appreciate that history was being made. We can see that now.”
Ms Capstick-Dale said it was obvious that the CCID had succeeded in reaching its two primary objectives – security and cleansing.
“The overwhelming success of the CCID is illustrated by the numbers. But the impact has been both practical and psychological and these are often overlooked in assessing the CCID. The practical impact was to turn the investment tide. Some of today’s best-know developments rose during that period … and investment continues unabated.
“But the psychological impact is best understood by Capetonians themselves. The place they call ‘town’ had become subject to pity, disappointment, even derision. What the CCID returned to the city – and this will be its abiding gift to Capetonians – is a sense of pride.”
CCID CEO Tasso Evangelinos said it was fitting that the organisation came of age in a time that the world is being tested by a global pandemic which has changed the way people work, live and play.
He said 21 years ago, the CCID was formed at a time that threatened the existence of the city centre itself, so the CCID was not new to these challenges.
Mr Evangelinos, who was awarded a Mayoral Civic Award last month, said in the last financial year, the CCID’s structures and partnerships were “once again” tested to the limit by Covid-19 and the government’s regulations to stem its tide.
“These deeply affected our retailers and damaged the CBD economy. However, I am happy to report that we not only survived but succeeded in maintaining a safe and secure CBD for our stakeholders, ensuring that the central city was open for business, and encouraging office workers and visitors to come back to town.”
Mr Evangelinos said the organisations strong partnerships, combined with its diligence and determination, enabled the CCID to operate effectively under duress.
One of the highlights of the meeting was the reduction of the budget ask for the 2021/2022 financial year.
Mr Kane said Cape Town CBD property owners, who approved a 11.7 % budget increase for the CCID earlier this year, stand to benefit from the organisation reducing its budget ask by more than 5%.
Mr Kane said the CCID had recalibrated the budget it tabled to the City of Cape Town requesting an 11.7 % increase and had drastically reduced it to 6.2 % “due to cost-savings, careful budget revision and the utilisation of a portion of the CCID’s reserves”.
“The financial impact on the additional rate paid to the CCID by property owners within our Special Rating Area will therefore be less than anticipated. This will provide much-needed relief to our ratepayers during this economically challenging period,” said Mr Kane.
In the 2020/2021 financial year, the CCID received R76.7 million via CBD ratepayers, with the bulk of the funds – 58.9 % – being allocated to the safety and security department.
During the year in review, some of the key projects for this department were the purchase of 60 new body-worn cameras for public safety officers and the CCID’s traffic wardens, as well as an upgrade to the systems; the servicing and branding of its nine safety kiosks and collaborative safety operations, among other projects.
The CCID’s urban management department received 9.6%, social development 7.8% and communications 5.7% of the budget.
In the year under review, the CCID’s sweepers, as part of the urban management department, managed to remove 1148 tons of litter and illegal dumping to landfill.
Beautification projects included installing 89 floral baskets in St George’s Mall, refurbishing 28 red post boxes and repainting 854 of the CBD’s street furniture.
In the social development department, under the year in review, the team interacted with 1176 street people, and sent 54 willing adults back home. The social development department also supports and partners with other organisations in the city centre who assist street people, such as Khulisa Solutions, TB/HIV Care and the Hope Exchange.
Mr Kane also announced that in the 2020/2021 financial year, the CCID had attained its 21st consecutive clean audit, which was “a very impressive result backed up by strong governance and financial control”.
Mr Kane said while the CBD had been hard-hit by the pandemic, it remained the most successful inner city in South Africa, and a good investment node for residential and commercial property investment.
“In fact, last year, the total value of property investments in the CBD – completed, under construction, planned or proposed – was R6.68 billion. This is very encouraging given the crushing impact of the pandemic on the construction and other sectors.”
There are also positive signs that the tide is turning, said Mr Kane.
“Covid-19 is still in our midst, but we have a greater understanding of it. In the CBD we are seeing proverbial green shoots emerging. There is a lot more activity as corporates and business owners move away from the work-from-home experiment and ask employees to start to return to the office in some form or other.
“Top of mind now is a concerted effort to reinvigorate the CBD’s economy,” Mr Kane said.