Areas and Places Research

Residential Survey Shines Spotlight On Inner City Living Trends

According to the latest online residential survey conducted by the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID), the greatest percentage of respondents have lived downtown for more than five years and plan to keep living in the area. Over 50% own the property they live, while 73% live within 3km of their work or place of study.

These are some of the findings to emerge from the Cape Town Central City Improvement District’s (CCID) third annual Residential Survey, which studies residential trends in the CBD, including who lives there as well as what they do, what they want and what they need.

According to Tasso Evangelinos, Chief Operating Officer of the CCID, the top four reasons cited by respondents for wanting to live in the CBD are proximity to work, the idea of a “downtown” lifestyle, easy access to other suburbs in Cape Town and the fact that the CBD is considered a safe environment.

“As a city improvement district, providing additional security services falls within our mandate so it’s particularly heartening to note that safety is one of the primary reasons that people choose to live in the CBD.”

Amongst the most significant results captured in this year’s survey is the increase in the number of people who have lived in the CBD for between five and 10 years which, at is 24% is up from just 5% against the 2014 survey results.

Says Carola Koblitz, Communications Manager for the CCID: “The next largest statistical group has lived in the CBD for between two and three years (17% versus 13% in 2014), but the third largest group (16%) has lived in the area for 10 years or more. Out of all of the respondents, 51% indicated that they intended to live in the CBD for at least the next four years.

“We have also seen an increase in the number of people who own property in the Central City and live in it rather than let it. According to the 2015 Residential Survey, owner-occupied properties have increased from 47% last year to 52% this year.”

CCID Chairman, Rob Kane, says the growth in owner-occupied properties is indicative of the Central City’s increasing desirability as a residential area in its own right, rather than just a residential investment destination.

“Property values have increased significantly in the past four years. In 2011 the collective rand value of all residential sales in the CBD was R115 million. In 2014 that figure had more than doubled to R296m, despite the fact that there had been very little new residential development in the CBD over that period.”

So who lives in the Central City and what do they do for work and play?

According to Koblitz, and as recorded in the 2014 survey, residents still fall primarily within the 25- to 34-year-old age group (37% versus 40% in 2014), but the biggest increase in age bracket has been in the 35- to 44-year-olds. Last year this group represented 22% of the survey, whereas this year the percentage has climbed significantly to 31%.

Analysing the professional categories into which residents fell, Koblitz notes: “With this residential survey we can see mirrored quite clearly the growth in the publishing and creative industries in the CBD, as highlighted in the 2014 edition of our annual investment publication, The State of Cape Town Central City Report. The top reason cited for living in the CBD is proximity to work, and the top category of profession among those surveyed this year is Media, Marketing and Publishing, followed by Creative Industries and the Financial Sector.

“Last year the top professions were Architecture and Engineering, neither of which even features on this year’s list.”

Koblitz says 25% of the respondents have children and 26% have pets, which makes it unsurprising that the favourite public space used by respondents (91% compared to 81% last year) is The Company’s Garden and the top request in terms of public spaces is for more parks, trees and greenery.

When asked what kinds of additional retail opportunities respondents wanted in the CBD, the top three in order of preference were longer retail hours (beyond 17h00), more delicatessen-type food stores and more restaurants. Last year the same three retail opportunities were cited in the survey results, but the order of preference was restaurants first, followed by longer retail hours then more delicatessen-type food stores.

Kane says: “Understanding what residents want from a business perspective is particularly important when you consider the growth in demand of ‘after hours’ activities and retail. This is consistent with what you would find in other downtowns with a strong residential component and indicates that the Cape Town Central City is on its way to developing the critical mass needed to support a 24-hour economy.”

According to Koblitz, 97% of respondents eat out, and 80% of them frequent a restaurant in the CBD at least once a week – a significant increase from 68% last year.

“This speaks to the development of the Bree Street corridor, which – after Kloof Street – was noted as the favourite place to go out. Over the past year in particular, we’ve seen a number of upmarket bars and restaurants being established here.”

Some 86% of respondents also indicated that they visited a CBD coffee shop at least once a week, up 2% from last year.

Koblitz says transport is another key area in the survey: “There has been an increase from 66% in 2014 to 73% of respondents this year who say they live within three kilometres of their place of work or study, making non-car commuting a serious possibility, yet 55% still drive to work or school.

“Only 22% of respondents cycle in and around the CBD, citing a lack of bike storage, not enough cycling lanes and traffic danger as reasons for not doing more of it. What is heartening, though, is the significant increase in the number of respondents who use the MyCiTi bus system to get around the CBD, which has climbed to 50% from 37% last year. The system is proving to be very popular.

“From a carbon emissions point of view the ideal is a downtown that is almost entirely dominated by pedestrianised, non-motorised and public transport. It won’t happen overnight, but we are seeing encouraging movement in this direction every year,” Koblitz concludes.