In the last four years the Cape Town CBD has been the target of nearly R5 billion’s worth of upgrades and development. A recent survey commissioned by the city’s Central Improvement District values CBD property at about R22.3 billion.
Recent or current developments in the city include:
The R690 million expansion of the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) which is in its planning stage. This redevelopment will see the venue double in size. The completion date is set for July 2015.
The R138m Provincial Government building upgrade in Dorp Street is to be completed in July.
The R1.6bn 32 floor (tallest in the CBD) Portside Building between Bree, Mechau, Hans Strijdom and Buitengracht streets. This is an enterprise by FirstRand Bank and Old Mutual Properties aimed at completion in 2014. The building will be the provincial headquarters of First National Bank, Rand Merchant Bank and Wesbank.
The R32.8mil Civic Centre refurbishment has begun, the completion date is still uncertain.
The R1.4bn Cape Town Station upgrade, phase one is underway and phase two is still in the planning stage. The date for completion is not certain.
Ingenuity Property Investments are redeveloping the Atlantic Centre in Christiaan Barnard Street to the tune of R160m and should be completed early 2013.
The R80m development of Touchstone House on the corner of Bree and Mechau Streets is in its planning phase.
The R150m upgrade to Newspaper House in St George's Mall is to be completed this year.
The Cape Town City Hall is also due for refurbishment. It is estimated that it will take R20 million to upgrade the historic building. A variety of repairs as well as major upgrades to the roof and auditorium are required if the building is to remain functional. The timeline is likely to be between two to three years.
The Cape Argus refers to a "turnaround strategy" that was put into place for the building back in 2009. Since then R4m had been spent on repair projects. This includes R1m to refurbish toilets and R500 000 to restore woodwork. Portions of the ceiling have been repaired, light fittings replaced and walls painted. But major repairs are still required.
By way of justification for all this expense, is the offering of City Hall as a nucleus for the city’s arts community. The intention is to position the venue as a location for various creative activities. Clearly this is already the case. Between January and September, more than 70 events were held at the City Hall. The Cape Argus reports that another 40 are planned up until the end of this year. The city hasbeen meeting with the Cape Town Partnership and the arts sector with the view to working on arrangements to secure events until 2015.
From art to infrastructure. Cape Town’s foreshore dead-ends and unfinished freeway are finally to be looked at with a creative eye. The City of Cape Town, with the help of University of Cape Town (UCT) engineering students, is hoping to find a viable design to complete the structures.
Students from the university's engineering and built environment faculty will be asked for draft innovative design proposals for the incomplete freeway in a way that will improve access to the city. It has remained incomplete for many years due to lack of funding.
For some they have been a blot on the landscape for others an icon, regardless the unfinished flyovers are to be examined and considered for more constructive use. Proposals include; creating parking beneath them, a museum and even providing viewing spots of the city. One main focus is on how to use the structures to help ease access to the city centre, and in this way improve working and living conditions for residents.
The project would start in January and the tenders would go out in early 2014. One possibility mooted is for an international consortium to be responsible for the construction work. This would be a long term project that would change the landscape of the city.
There’ s a great deal of attention being paid to crime and grime issues in the CBD too and people seem to be enjoying their work environment. The aforementioned survey commissioned by the City’s Central Improvement District (CCID) reveals that 82.6 percent of people feel safe in the streets and eighty-three percent of businesses also rated the CBD the safest in the country.
The report found that over the past three years property investment in the central city brought in R4.6 billion and a GDP contribution of R1.5bn was generated from events hosted in the city. According to the survey between 2001 and 2010, the residential population in the city had increased by 76 per cent. A further 79.3 percent of the people interviewed felt the city was clean and orderly while the remainder said cleaning could be improved.
Just over 85 percent said they felt safe in the city at night and 90 percent of businesses were satisfied with the overall services of the CCID.The CCID reported that crime rates fell by half in the central city. In social development, the CCID said they were working with 16 social service providers to help homeless people. Evidently of the CCID’s budget of R37.5m, more than half would be spent on safety and security.
Finally, improved transport is very much in the vision of the city. Cape Town is moving closer to gaining complete control over Cape Town's public transport operations. It will see the city managing the subsidies of the Golden Arrow Bus Services, which currently fall under the provincial government. In 2011, Golden Arrow Bus Services received a R600 million subsidy. It has more than 1 000 buses on 900 routes across the metro. Now the city is applying to the national government for the contracting authority functions to be taken over by the city.
At the moment, rail services are managed by the national government while the MyCiTi service is city-run. Eventually these will fall under the Transport Authority. Going forward, the goal is a single payment method for all modes of transport. This can be done with the myconnect card. It will also affect scheduling of services, allowing for a shared timetable. The entire integrated public transport system is expected to be complete in the next five to seven years.
Cape Town seems to be focused, industrious and committed, as people in the CBD make their city work.