Boom for the flat life in the city

2015-06-23 06:00

With an estimated 6000 residents in the central city alone, flat living in the City Bowl appears to be increasingly popular.

This compared to the 750 residents found in the central city a decade ago, according to a survey carried out by the Central City Improvement District (CCID).

More families and residents are moving to live in the city by choice, unlike the students and transient housing that used to take up the bulk of city residence.

The regeneration of the city centre and its evolution over the last two decades has built a solid foundation for a boom in living in flats, says Rashiq Fataar, founder and director of Future Cape Town.

“The investment by both the public and private sector, along with key investments in transport, public spaces, safety and cultural opportunities have contributed to the economic case for the city centre,” he says.

Living close to work and schools, security and convenience are the major factors drawing people to flat living in the city, says Jacques van Embden, co-founder of development company Blok.

“People are choosing more compact homes in or near the city to cut down on daily travel time and to be closer to a wider array of lifestyle options on their doorstep. This and the City’s pro-densification strategies have certainly made regeneration more favourable,” he says.

The three top reasons for living in the central city were to be close to work, enjoying the “downtown lifestyle” and the diverse entertainment options available, the CCID survey found.

The positive impact of densification in the city can already be seen, says Van Embden.

“It fosters an environment where small business owners can get critical mass and thrive. It also impacts security as we have more eyes on the same streets. There is also a level of creativity that starts to bloom as people take ownership of their city,” he says.

A boom in flat occupation in most cities results in a more intensive use and appreciation of the public infrastructure and amenities, Fataar says.

“Other benefits including busier and more active streets and spaces, which naturally promotes a greater sense of community and safety. For Cape Town, there is still some way to go before apartment living in the centre is accessible enough to a wide range of people and some serious questions are being asked of why little progress has been made in exploring some more affordable housing developments. Given Cape Town’s vast inequality, one would think that greater inroads and will from all would have catalysed action,” he says.

The main challenges are to ensure that flats and housing in the city centre and broader central city can accommodate various groups of people, such as young professionals and families, Fataar says.

The CCID survey found 27% of respondents had children. The same amount of residents had pets

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