East City thrives despite lockdown

An artist impression of The Harri, which is under construction in the East City.
Despite the national lockdown’s devastating impact on the economy, including that of the Cape Town city centre, 63% of the East City’s newest development, going up in Harrington Street, has already been sold. 

The Harri, a R70 million, 48-unit apartment block and mixed-use property development, is expected to be complete in April 2021, but only 16 of 42 apartments remain unsold, while just two of the six loft apartments are still on the market.

The complete apartments will have fireplace lounges, a TV room with a large smart TV and access to Netflix, three dedicated Zoom (video chat) rooms, a rooftop terrace with a gas braai and mini-bar area, wi-fi, a concierge, a housekeeping service, and 24-hour security. 

The development in the East City follows neighbourhood construction of a new mixed-use development at 84 Harrington Street, which began last year and includes retail units, a restaurant, co-working space and residential living, as well as The Harrington, a mixed-use retail and commercial development at 50 Harrington Street, which borders Barrack and Buitenkant streets, which was completed in 2018.

Co-developer of The Harri, Jeff Kleu, said they had been throughout lockdown, “We sold to investors wanting to buy to rent, parents buying apartments for their student kids or a holiday flat, and to locals as well as Zimbabwean, German and USA nationals.”

The previously dormant section of the CBD, bordered by District Six, has previously been dubbed the precinct of possibilities by the Central City Improvement District (CCID). 

The precinct had undergone many upgrades, such as that of the City Hall, and Church Square as well as 61 Harrington Street, previously The Assembly which was transformed into three night-time venues.

Other major developments include The Old Granary at R31 million, the purchase of the Nicro head office on Harrington Street by a European company, Groupe SOS, for R30 million, and the opening last year of a R75-million five-star boutique hotel on Church Square, Labotessa.

Cape Town CCID research economist Sandra Gordon said that while development activity had initially been concentrated at the lower end of Harrington Street, developers had shifted their attention to the area above 50 Harrington Street. “Numerous applications submitted to the City suggest that a variety of new retail and food outlets are set to open their doors, which will really cement the East City’s reputation as a trendy precinct that sees people flock to the area at the weekend.”