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As we emerge from one of the hardest national lockdowns globally, the City recognises that our Central Business District (CBD) and other commercial centres require specific attention and immediate interventions to help breathe life back into these areas. Much work has gone into developing plans to achieve this, in collaboration with a number of partners. The City had the opportunity to inform the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) of the economic recovery plans for the area at business engagement this morning. Read more below:

According to the CCID’s annual report, the CBD is 1,6 square kilometres and at the end of 2019, the CBD housed just over 3 300 businesses, with more than one million square metres of office space available. The overall official nominal value of property in the CBD is R44 billion, with R3,7 worth of construction currently underway and a further R5,1 billion in the planning phase. The CBD also hosts 69 corporate head offices.

The COVID-19 health crisis and the corresponding national lockdown regulations have undoubtedly had a devastating impact on the economy of Cape Town, in particular on many of Cape Town’s commercial areas, and in particular the CBD.

‘These initial recovery interventions will bring much relief to businesses in the City Bowl, while our broader economic recovery plan for the whole of Cape Town is finalised by the City’s Executive Management and Mayoral Committee teams,’ said Alderman Dan Plato, Executive Mayor of Cape Town.

‘COVID-19 forced us to think out of the box and look at new innovative ways of doing things. We therefore can only commend the initiative to rent out sidewalks to restaurants and help them deal with social distancing,’ said Alderman Grant Twigg, Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Management.

Subcouncil 16 (SC16), which is responsible for the City’s CBD, has already set up a task team to initiate an economic recovery of the area. This task team is made up of five different work streams to address decreased footfall, shop closures, increased criminal activity and urban decay within the CBD due to the lack of utilisation of space.

The five workstreams include:

  • Regulatory reform, which is looking at innovative policies that can enable businesses to operate in a safe and attractive manner;
  • Precinct management with a focus on various initiatives to address the crime and grime in the area;
  • Collaborative partnerships to bring all stakeholders together to ensure buy-in and participation for all these interventions;
  • An Events and Activation workstream that is putting together an exciting programme of events to attract people back to the CBD;
  • An occupational density workstream that considers the medium to long term changes that will occur as a result of the changing work patterns and how the City can help the CBD adjust to this new normal.

These interventions will provide a blueprint for other sub-councils to employ in their own commercial centres thereby bringing life back to all our centres of economic and social interactions, in a safe and responsible manner.

‘The first intervention the City has initiated is to provide restaurants with the option to rent the sidewalks in front of their establishments for outdoor seating, at a reduced rate, for the next six months. To find out more about this initiative and put in an application, establishments are encouraged to visit Invest Cape Town’s website here: https://www.investcapetown.com/apply-to-rent-sidewalks-at-a-reduced-rate/

‘This call to action is to offer establishments the opportunity to welcome more patrons as the increased space will allow for social distancing. We hope that this will also encourage residents to enjoy outdoor social activities, which has been shown to decrease the risk of COVID infections and improve the safety of patrons.

‘The City is directing initial efforts towards the CBD, as the jewel in Cape Town’s crown, not only as a tourism and investment perspective, but socially too. Its success as an attractive place to live, work and play is the result of concerted efforts from the City, its partners, and Cape Town’s residents,’ said Alderman James Vos, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset management.

This initiative is the first of a number of interventions aimed at assisting the revitalisation of the CBD. More announcements involving the CBD and other commercial centres around the city will follow in the coming months.

These will include elements such as an activation and place-making programme, along with medium-term interventions enabling our CBD to adjust to the transformations that have taken place in the world of work due to the COVID crisis.

The City also recognises the need for a long-term strategy to address the social and economic constraints intensified by COVID, and has drafted the Inclusive Economic Growth Strategy (IEGS) currently open for public comment.

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