However, this has begun to change with recent upgrades attracting new businesses and injecting new life into the once run-down area.
Lew Geffen, Chairman of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty says that until very recently, Investment in this area was very slow, especially when compared to the foreshore and other central sectors, but with R1.6 billion worth of construction underway or planned over the next few years, the east precinct will undergo a dramatic transformation.
“The area has been earmarked by the city as a special design and development district, and many are hailing as a 'design and innovation district' as well as the latest trendy social hub.”
Chad Shapiro, senior commercial broker for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in the CBD, City Bowl and Atlantic Seaboard, says: “Several property owners have also been involved in the transformation and redevelopment of commercial buildings in the previously semi-industrial area which is now also home to a growing number of upmarket bars and restaurants as well as a new retail component that synergises well with the new creative element that exists here.”
He adds that a number of the larger commercial buildings have already been remodelled and upgraded, including The Harrington, 50 Buitenkant the entire Church Square area and new construction includes the new amazon.com building which is being built where Viglietti Motors was situated.
“Mixed-use has also become a watchword in the area with several already established, like Roeland Square 50 Buitenkant, the Earthlife building and 62 Roeland, which is one of the most diverse creative locations that includes The East City Studios events on the top floors, and ETV has moved in just a road away in de Villiers Street.
“We have found that 62 Roeland has specifically been a strong point of interest for customers who are looking for an introduction into The Cape Town creative and trendy market.”
Shapiro says that there has also been substantial city improvement specifically in the Upper Harrington Street location where a number of government controlled housing complexes are situated and some of the privately-owned houses are now also being renovated.
“The area is increasingly becoming the residential location of choice for young professionals and students as it is so conveniently located and now includes some of the city’s trendiest eatery and party locations, such as The Harrington Bar, Surfa Rosa, the District, New York Bagel Deli, the old classic Dias Tavern and Kimberly Hotel, Truth Bar.
“Cape Town’s strong coffee culture is also staking it’s claim in the area with major role players such as Haas and Truth now attracting the city’s coffee-lovers in droves.”
Geffen concludes: “The significant attention the CBD has enjoyed from developers and investors in recent years has been a major factor in Cape Town’s status as the most desirable central business district in South Africa, attracting many blue-chip corporates.
And with the transformation of the Harrington Precinct into the city’s creative hot spot focusing on lifestyle and convenience, the city’s CBD has truly been rejuvenated.”