Claremont CBD bounces back from Covid

Claremont Main Road. File Picture: Alan Taylor

Claremont CBD has not only rebounded from the impacts of Covid-19, but is continuing to attract new businesses, increased investment and growth, according to the latest report by the Claremont Improvement District Company (CIDC).

The third State of Claremont Report was released at the non-profit company’s annual general meeting, held on Thursday October 26.

According to the report, business activity is back to pre-pandemic levels, with a recovery in demand for both office and retail space, and with a desire for maximum flexibility reinforcing the trend towards eco-living and co-working spaces.

While the total value of both residential and commercial property almost doubled over the past decade, rising from R4.49 billion in 2012/13 to R8.85 billion in 2022/23 – an increase of 97.1%, compared to a total valuation of just R1.4 billion in 2004/05.

The CIDC report, at the time of writing, states that seven call centre operations employ more than 2 100 people in Claremont CBD, while a vibrant, well-managed, night-time economy contributes to the social and cultural life of Claremont’s community.

A CIDC researcher, Sandra Gordon, delved deeper into the report, saying, “The total value of non-residential properties has yet to fully recover post Covid, but municipal valuation has risen by 9.5%. The surge in office vacancy rates due to business closures and working from home arrangements has now been largely reversed – as employees either returned to the office full time or on a hybrid basis.”

Ms Gordon touched on planned developments, saying they would bring new businesses and residents to the area. They include the 232 residential units at Newlands Peak, co-living space at Neighbourgood Newlands, a six-storey office development at 1st Osborne, Dreyer Street Market with its 43 traders, and the mixed-use Neo development at the old Werdmuller Centre.

Ms Gordon said the planned MyCiTi station would be within walking distance of student accommodation, shopping malls and other amenities, and only a block away from Main Road.

“Once the new MyCiTi station is operational, commuters will have a choice of five different modes of public transport – MyCiTi, Golden Arrow buses, the UCT shuttle, passenger rail and minibus taxis, all within a radius of less than 120 metres,” she said.

CIDC board chairman David Stolls said their partnership with Claremont police remained productive, and the CIDC had helped with several arrests in and around Claremont CBD.

“As per usual, our core focus remains the same, to continue to do what we do well – that is to address the crime, grime and social issues of the Claremont CBD. This focus remains our principal reason to exist,” Mr Stolls said.

CIDC executive manager Abdul Kerbelke said they had been able to provide uninterrupted urban management and social services throughout Covid and the lockdowns.

“Positively, business activity is back to pre-pandemic levels. The demand for office space has been primarily driven by business process outsourcing and e-commerce companies, including call centres, while the node remains the preferred hub for financial services companies given the area’s lifestyle offering and access to top-notch schooling and high-end residential areas,” he said.

Board chairman David Stolls
Researcher Sandra Gordon

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