Recovery from ‘terminal’

2016-11-08 06:01
Claremont has seen positive growth the past decade. PHOTO: gary van dyk

Claremont has seen positive growth the past decade. PHOTO: gary van dyk

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The Claremont Improvement District Company (CIDC) is celebrating 16 years of some positive changes in the area and heralding more growth for the future.

At its annual meeting last week chairperson David Stoll outlined how much has changed since the CIDC was established in 2000.

“In that time, significant investment has flowed into the area, with tangible results,” he said. “New commercial and residential buildings have been built, and existing buildings have been refurbished.

“The public transport interchange has been built and the Claremont Boulevard has been constructed.

“These, and many other developments, have all created a positive momentum for the growth and development of the Claremont central business district.”

Stoll also said during the past decade the value of commercial and residential properties in the Claremont CBD rose 400% to R7.1bn in the current financial year.

Uplifting story“While we see the physical evidence of these developments every day, the inaugural State of Claremont Report, which was released at the annual meeting, gives us the opportunity to tell the story of the progress we made up to this year.

“This document, the first of its kind for Claremont, presents a consolidated overview of the development trends and investment profile of our neighbourhood, and reinforces the reasons why the area is a preferred development destination.”

Abdul Kerbelker, executive manager of the CIDC, added to the excitement of the celebration by pointing out that since the early days under Anthony Davie’s leadership, the area was a continuing work in progress.

“We have moved beyond the era of litter-strewn streets and pervasive crime into a phase of sustainable growth,” he said. “Our success is measured by the economic success of those who work, live and play within our boundaries.

“That’s why it is so exciting to see the reshaping of the urban landscape, and to see new businesses open their doors.”

Not terminal anymoreKerbelker added that looking back in history the future of Claremont seemed assured during the 1970s and ’80s but during the ’90s the development of shopping centres in other areas heralded a shift in the suburb’s fortunes.

“There was a growing consensus that Claremont’s CBD was in terminal decline,” he says.

“In the face of growing urban decay and investor flight, property owners and investors realised that any attempt to upgrade Claremont would have to be undertaken by local stakeholders themselves.

“The City Improvement District (CID) by-law was created by local government in 2000 and this allowed the first two CIDs, the Cape Town CID in the city and the CIDC, to be established.

“The process became known as the ‘Claremont renaissance’ and, under the dynamic leadership of the late Chris Drummond, an estimated R1.8bn was invested in the area.”

Stoll added that the first wave of redevelopment featured commercial, retail and residential developments.

“The focus was not just on the development of new buildings but also the refurbishment of existing buildings, with public facilities such as the Claremont Clinic, the library and public transport interchange, the construction of the Claremont Boulevard and the R450m redevelopment of the Pick n Pay site.”

“Since the CIDC was established, this vision has become a reality with the central business district now an active urban hub, bringing shoppers, workers and residents back to its centre,” Stoll said.

Kerbelker was also excited about the second wave of the “Claremont renaissance” getting underway with the construction of the Claremont Boulevard awakening a spine of activity along the Main Road.

“We see the redevelopment of the Werdmuller Centre stimulating even more economic activity,” he said.

“Long-term retailers are retaining their centres of operation. New businesses are opening and new residential accommodation is being developed within mixed-use developments.”

Stoll concluded by adding that part of the progress in the area included caring for the environment with conservation and greening in mind.

“As we look to the future, we also look forward to a new phase of green development throughout the CBD, supported by additional transport links that will reduce congestion and carbon emissions.

“The Bus Rapid Transport system and the University of Cape Town’s transport link play a critical role in this regard.

“Set in this context, the CIDC’s work is a crucial element of the future sustainable success of the area.”

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