Demand for residential, business properties to change Cape Town skyline

The Absa Building near the MiCiti bus station and fountain.

The Absa Building near the MiCiti bus station and fountain.

Published Mar 16, 2024


Cape Town - Property developers are pumping billions of rand into Cape Town CBD and surrounds to meet the growing demand for residential and commercial space as semi-grants, foreigners and investors flock to the Mother City.

And, in the next 10 to 15 years the city will look completely different if developments go according to plan. Not only that, but Cape Town CBD and surrounds could vie for international status with cities such as London, Paris and New York.

However, Deon van Zyl, chairperson of the Western Cape Property Development Forum, said for Cape Town to solidify this international city centre status, the CBD's residential population of about 18 000 would have to grow significantly.

Estate agents believe this is possible and they are finding a growing appetite for residential property in the CBD. This is evidenced by the considerable number of office to residential conversions at the moment.

If they build it, we will sell it, says Brett Leon, MD of Lew Geffen Sotheyby's International Realty on the Atlantic Seaboard and City Bowl talking from experience of new developments that have gone up in the past few years.

He said as buildings are going up, there are as many new residents looking for accommodation or an investment. “At the right price point, these buildings are filled quickly,” he said.

Ben Gross, Cape Town city centre property investment specialist with Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty on the Atlantic Seaboard and City Bowl, says buyers are a mix of first-time homeowners, semi-grants and foreigners.

“It really is a good mix, and we are seeing more people interested in becoming part of the city centre's vibrant lifestyle.”

Sought after property at 35 Lower Long Street.

Rob Kane, CEO of Boxwood Property Fund and chairperson of the Central City Improvement District (CCID), said significant strides had been made in revitalising the CBD, citing the collaborative efforts between the CCID, the City, and private enterprises.

Over the past 23 years, these partnerships have transformed the CBD, combating challenges while bolstering security, social development and cleanliness initiatives.

“It is probably the best working city in the country and the great collaboration between the City, and private and public enterprises the city's vibrant future is ensured,” said Kane, whose company has invested millions in the CBD area and has more developments planned.

“After a sluggish recovery from the hard Covid lockdowns, cranes are out all over the city and surrounding areas including Sea Point, with developers working hard to meet the demand for Airbnb accommodation and home ownership in these areas.

They are injecting billions into new projects, redevelopments, and upgrades, promising significant changes within the next decade.

The V&A Waterfront's recently announced a R20 billion upgrade, set to commence next year and unfold over the next 15 to 20 years. It is expected to revolutionise the Granger Bay area, marking one of the largest property investments in the city's history.

Moreover, the upcoming City of Cape Town and High Street Auctions auction of a 99-year lease agreement for a 25 000m² development block in the city's Foreshore district, is anticipated to attract substantial investments. Expectations of up to R1bn are pouring into the site.

Key multi-use buildings in the CBD include the long-awaited renovation of the old Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital – put on hold over Covid – and set to commence shortly, as well as Boxwood's entire city block redevelopment, on the corner of Bree and Strand streets. It is set to include a new hotel, retail and residential accommodation.

Kane says there has been a surge in demand for residential and commercial spaces, signalling a resurgence in the CBD's vibrancy.

Ross Levin, licensee for Seeff Atlantic Seaboard and City Bowl, said where the Johannesburg and Durban's CBDs have gone into significant decline, Cape Town's CBD remains a success story.

“The CBD has undergone a metamorphosis since 2010 when it first caught the interest of everyone.

“Today, it is a shining example of a development which has spilled over to neighbouring areas like the Waterfront, De Waterkant, Green Point, Sea Point, Woodstock, etc,” he said.

Craig Watchurst, agent with Seeff City Bowl, said you could purchase a property for between R1.5m and R2,5m and get really good value.

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