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City’s live-work-play precincts growing in popularity

4 November 2019


Live-work-play precincts are becoming increasing popular in Cape Town. Those moving into the trendy new areas come from a broad range of economic groups, all contributing to a successful local economy.

Cape Town’s biggest future mixed-use development, Harbour Arch by Amdec, spans 5.3 hectares with 198,000m2 of usable space.

The precinct occupies a strategic position at the convergence of major access roads, with easy entry points to and from the N1 and N2 highways. Approved by the City of Cape Town’s municipal planning tribunal (MPT) in October 2019, the development is said to be the most ambitious to be built in the Mother City since the V&A Waterfront.

Amdec CEO James Wilson told the Business Day newspaper that it would take 10 years to construct Harbour Arch, which will include six towers and for which 13 000 people will be employed directly during construction.

“We are creating a live, work and play new urban precinct for the Mother City which will compete with the likes of the V&A,” Wilson told the newspaper.

In Century City, a privately managed 250-hectare mixed-use precinct situated a few minutes from Cape Town’s CBD, developers are building Bridgewater One, comprising of a residential component, an 80-bed luxury hotel, several commercial offerings, and limited retail.

“With the redevelopment of Ratanga Junction, our vision was to enlarge the water body and retain as much of the original vegetation as possible to create a substantial green zone” says John Chapman, Director at the Rabie Property Group, developers of Century City.  “We are adding at least 1.64ha of additional water, which will connect with the existing canals in Century City, enabling canoeists and paddlers to travel across the entire precinct via the canals.  In creating a large public green space, we will be able to welcome families back to the area, this time to enjoy the ingenious birdlife and find solace in nature.”

Described as South Africa’s ground-breaking New Urban precinct, Century City combines residential, commercial and leisure components in a beautifully landscaped setting on the banks of eight kilometres of picturesque waterways and canals.

Home to over 500 companies, including national and regional head offices of some of South Africa’s blue-chip corporates, and to over 4 500 apartments, houses, and penthouses, Century City boasts an enormous variety of world class retail, leisure and natural amenities.

Says Chapman: “Cape Town is now one of the most sought-after destinations in the world. People want to live and work here. Companies want to be based here. It’s the place to be.”

In the last decade, the range of residential options have grown steadily in Century City. Today, the area offers modern, secure homes and apartments covering the whole lifestyle cycle. “We cater for everyone – from first-time homeowners to single yuppie pads, young couples, families, empty nesters and even retirees,” says Chapman.

In 2015, 51 apartments in the Matrix, a high rise, mixed use property development that forms part of Century City’s ZAR1 billion Conference Centre precinct, were sold within 45 minutes of going public. This was the second residential project by the Rabie Property Group at Century City to sell out in less than an hour at its public launch. The previous year 70 units in Mayfair Gardens were sold out within 45 minutes forcing the developer to release phase two of the development months ahead of schedule.

Another precinct growing in popularity is Cape Town’s inner-city.

According to the recently released State of the Cape Town Central City Report published by the Central City Improvement District (CCID), well-priced residential units remains in high demand in the city centre.

Just under a third of residential property buyers in 2018 were young adults (18-35 years), many of whom were likely to be first-time buyers. The largest age cohort of buyers according to the report (42%) were middle-aged (36-49 years), which suggests professionals moving to the CBD.

The median price of an apartment sold in the CBD in 2018 was R2.1 million, an increase of 97% over the past five years.

The report highlighted the rise of micro residential units as a “future trend”.

Says Tasso Evangelinos, chief executive of the CCID: “Inner-city living has become extremely popular. Not just in Cape Town, but around the world.”

“Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, there was a massive decentralisation worldwide, people didn’t want to live in inner cities – they were regarded as dangerous and degraded, a place where criminals lived. Now, there’s a huge move to make inner cities work again. There’s a push for people to come back. And we’re seeing it happen in Cape Town. People are moving out of the old residential suburbs of big homes and moving into smaller micro apartments close to work, nature and entertainment.”

Living in Cape Town’s inner-city offers it all, says Evangelinos.

“We have a very attractive CBD. Cape Town is a very active city, a very creative city, and I think there is a lot of opportunity to do good business here. We create a platform for people to come study further here, we have specialised training here, the IT and film industry is massive here, and now with the City’s investment in broadband, I think that is going to be a game-changer.

“As a business destination, we have a phenomenal harbour which can be further enhanced. From IT and creative industries, we are at the top.  There’s a lot of creatives in Cape Town. The East City houses a huge amount of creative people. That is one area where the economy is growing. The film industry, linked with IT in terms of animation is massive. All these sectors are attracting people to the inner city.”

There are 59 residential complexes and 3 157 businesses in Cape Town’s CBD across sectors, including: 74 corporates and general offices, 190 accommodation and travel companies, 84 educational establishments, 193 medical entities, 986 entertainment and retail entities, and 111 communications, media and advertising agencies.


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