Revitalising public spaces

A Central City Improvement District public safety officer patrols St George's Mall.

The Central City Improvement District CEO, Tasso Evangelinos, announced a number of pilot projects at their 16th annual general meeting, themed “Building Bridges”, which took place on Monday November 14, against the backdrop of a spectacular view of the city and the foreshore on the 28th floor of Portside in Buitengracht Street.

The most significant project was the start of a process that would revitalise and better manage public spaces like St George’s Mall and Greenmarket Square, in the city centre. Mr Evangelinos said this pilot project, now in its first phase, underwent a four-month preparation period, where the CCID, with the help of Geocentric Information Systems, appointed a project manager who was accountable to the CCID’s public spaces steering committee.

They conducted a pedestrian count of St George’s Mall; appointed a landscape architect to prepare a report of the current state of Greenmarket Square and St George’s Mall and challenges of the spaces; established a multipurpose cleaning team to render services to the spaces during the pilot project; and conducted a survey with businesses and traders to establish how best to include everyone into the management of the spaces.

Ward councillor Dave Bryant, told the CapeTowner that Green Market Square was chosen for the pilot project because it was the second oldest public space in the city centre after the Grand Parade, and also because the administration was easier.

“All the traders on Greenmarket Square are already on the City’s database.

“There are a number of different leases on the Grand Parade. But the aim of the project is to grow. It is in its early stages.”

He said the City is working as a research partner, looking at best practices and talking to traders, retailers and businesses who are involved in the space .

He said the space is currently managed by the City, but they struggle to keep up with providing all the necessary services.

Some of the challenges identified through the preparation period so far included the cleaning and managing of daily setting up and breaking down of stalls; safety issues such as aggressive begging and petty crime and the management and cleanliness of the ablution facilities.

Mr Bryant said the first phase will roll out for the next three years, but this does not mean that people will only see things happening after three years. “The idea is that the project grows year on year. The Green Market Square is such an iconic public space. We are hoping to roll this out to all public spaces in the city over the years.”

Another project announced at the meeting was the broadband rollout pilot project. Following the roll-out of fibre optic cables around the CBD, the City has looked into providing the cabling from its own network to private buildings.

They have selected four blocks in the City CBD, bordered by Wale, Loop, Longmarket and Burg streets, where it would install a cable to every building so that a request for fibre optic allocation could be provided. Mr Evangelinos said this will reduce the fulfilment time for a new service and give tenants or building owners a choice of service providers, as well as access to the City’s connection speed of 1 gigabit per second.

He said it is envisaged that, if successful, the pilot project will be rolled out across the entire CBD.

The CCID has also established a partnership with Chrysalis Academy, a youth leadership organisation in Tokai, where 15 students were taken into the Company’s Gardens to act as ambassadors in the garden.

The students, who are on a nine-month rotation, are being trained and supervised by the CCID guards to assist visitors to the garden, being the eyes and ears on the ground when it comes to crime, and report broken street infrastructure and providing a visible security presence.

Mr Evangelinos said the students’ stipend is paid by the Department of Community Safety, which also funded two safety kiosks.

During the year, the CCID has also partnered with NGOs and assisted with social upliftment projects such as the Streetscape Garden project (“Helping hands for Homeless”, CapeTowner October 20) in collaboration with Khulisa Social Solutions, and an upgrade to the Youth Solutions Africa shelter in Woodstock.

The shelter upgrades, which included the building and refurbishing of four extra dormitories to accommodate 24 people, the upgrade of the ablution facilities, building of lockers and the refurbishing of the kitchen, were funded by the CCID and was valued at R250 000, said Mr Evangelinos.

CCID chairman, Rob Kane emphasised the importance of partnership. He said the public and private sectors in the central city have played a collaborative role in “upskilling” Cape Town to this point.

“I’m proud to say that the CCID, with its strong focus on basic service delivery, has created a platform for success in the CBD. Additionally, much of the work it is now getting involved with will unlock further opportunities across the entire metropole.”

He mentioned other projects in keeping with the theme, such as “connecting ever closer to our neighbours”.

“As the Foreshore expands, we’re seeing a gradual reconnection of city to sea, which is also seeing the CCID forge closer ties, for example, with the neighbouring V&A Waterfront.

“For example, we’ve begun working on a strategy to improve the pedestrian and traffic thoroughfares between these two destinations. And of course, the eventual outcome of the City’s Foreshore Freeway Precinct project, which could transform the lower CBD, will have a direct impact on this relationship.”

He said 18 months had been a period of realignment for the CCID, coming out of its previous 14-year management agreement with the Cape Town Partnership, and it has become a stand-alone organisation.

Mr Kane welcomed the new board member, Thembinkosi Siganda, Director of Economic Development at the City, and said goodbye to two long-standing board members, Abu Varacchia of Spearhead Property Holding, and Faeida Jacobs, who has been a member of the board since 2008.