The coronavirus outbreak has transformed big cities around the world. In just a few short months, the sight of empty streets and shuttered businesses has become commonplace in virtually every major metropolis – and the Cape Town CBD is feeling these effects acutely.
Economic crises caused by pandemics are different to normal recessions, both in terms of the severity of their effect on business and the speed with which they strike.
As we look beyond the current situation and search for positive solutions in the coming months and years a great deal of inventiveness and solidarity will have to come to the fore. Let’s take a closer look at the pandemic’s effects on the urban landscape and some of the measures that are being taken to support the Mother City’s recovery.
Are cities still desirable places to be?
Like many successful commercial cities around the world, Cape Town has generally been considered a safe, efficient urban environment – especially during the past 15 years.
The popularity of the inner city’s commercial, residential and retail offerings had been increasing steadily with a construction boom hinting at even greater prosperity in years to come. Then the coronavirus outbreak happened.
While most of us – and our parents and grandparents – grew up in a century when cities were generally safe, desirable places to be, this was not the case at other times in history. Most European cities have experienced more than one pandemic over the centuries, leading to a mass exodus of citizens as they adhered to the social distancing norms of their times.
Fortunately, there’s a happy ending to the history of pandemics: the great cities got through them, recovered, and went on to reinvent themselves. That’s exactly the type of positive process that Capetonians need to embrace to help the Mother City bounce back. The community spirit and boundless optimism shown by citizens of all backgrounds is an excellent sign of things to come.
Seeking solutions to a global problem
Disease outbreaks have tended to be concentrated in remote, developing regions of the world – the Ebola virus and MERS being recent examples – but COVID is different.
The widespread nature of this virus means that the whole world has been affected, and that’s excellent news when it comes to a potential recovery.
- The devastation that beset New York earlier this year alerted the world to the dangers of the coronavirus. Since then, cities of all sizes and income levels have faced the harsh reality of lockdowns and a sudden economic freeze.
- Cape Town’s reliance on tourism and its early spike in COVID cases resulted in a sharp decline in business activity in 2020. Fortunately, the municipality has a variety of initiatives in place to aid in the recovery process.
Creating a more open Cape Town
As cities around the world dust themselves off and return to life in the new normal, the best strategy any urban area can follow is to secure the present and plan for the future.
- The City of Cape Town, in partnership with CCID, is embarking on an ambitious project called Open Streets.
- This initiative will see several spaces declared vehicle-free zones in order to entice citizens to come out and safely enjoy everything the city has to offer.
- Since public spaces and crowds have become potentially dangerous places from a health and wellness perspective, the City hopes to create an environment where people feel safe to come out – with social distancing measures in place of course.
The current plan will incorporate the activities of organisations like Reclaim the City and other community groups in order to create a more equal, welcoming city for everyone.
Developments like Harbour Arch to lead the recovery
The inner-city’s remarkable transformation over the past few years is far from over – and the post COVID era will provide further opportunities for urban growth and transformation. Commercial property developers are meeting the rest of the city halfway as they continue to roll out exciting new buildings that are inclusive and place an emphasis on safety.
The Harbour Arch development – a R15 billion mixed-use development from the Amdec Group – is one of Cape Town’s most innovative new buildings.
Located at the entrance to the city (near the unfinished highways), it will feature residential and commercial units with an emphasis on liveability. Being able to shop and work in the same building you wake up in will give a new chic meaning to the concept of staying home.
The developers are aiming to turn previously undesirable land into premium real estate – and to keep the development inclusive they’ll build 100 affordable apartment units into the project. This forward thinking approach could set a new standard for post-lockdown office spaces.
A new inner-city revival on the cards
The commercial property sector is intimately connected with commercial and residential activity in the CBD. As the local government and citizens take steps to revive the Mother City after lockdown, supporting these initiatives is an excellent investment in a sustainable future for all.
If you’d like to take this opportunity to acquire commercial property in a city with fantastic bounce-back potential, we’d love to connect with you. Contact the Commercial Space team today.