According to The State of Cape Town Central City Report, recently released by the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID), the 1.6km² Cape Town CBD is home to 12 museums, three libraries, 209 eateries, 96 medical practices as well as 69 bars and clubs. Added to this are four theatres, 627 retail outlets, 25 places of worship and 40 health and beauty facilities. However, middle income earners, many of whom work in the area, aren’t able to make full use of these facilities outside of working hours.
This is because this demographic cannot afford to own homes in or nearby the City, which means that additional trips to and from the CBD are both costly and time consuming.
The CCID’s Report reveals that the average price of an apartment within the 57 residential complexes in the Central City is R2.337 million. With middle income earners making between R15, 000 and R50, 000 per month (based on figures from the Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing at UCT), they can only afford a maximum home purchase price of R 1.5 million – leaving them without an entry point into the CBD property market.
In addition, with Property24’s Property Trends and Statistics for the Cape Town City Centre showing that the average asking price for a studio apartment is R2.640 million, R2.833 million for a one-bed and R5.305 million for a two-bed, it is clear that property developers in the CBD currently only cater for upper-income earners. Furthermore, the addition of nine new residential property developments cited in the CCID’s Report, with apartment prices starting at just over R2 million on average, means this market is actually being over-catered for.
Without access to more affordable homes in well-located areas of the City, many of those in the middle income bracket are forced to purchase property on its outskirts. Therefore, it is not surprising that research contained in Standard Bank’s Consumer Expenditure Trends Report found that this market tends to spend between 15% and 19% of their budget on transport.
In the Standard Bank Report it was stated that “this group will also be affected mostly by an increase in the fuel levy and currency weakness”. Now, with the country’s current economic situation and the Automobile Association predicting that the petrol price is set to increase by up to seven cents a litre, it is unlikely that they would be able to shell out even more money to travel to the City Centre to experience its after hour’s offerings.
While public transport may be a more affordable option than driving one’s own car, these do have their downsides, such as safety, reliability and lack of infrastructure in certain areas – all of which make middle income earners reluctant to travel this way at night.
As a result of not being able to afford homes in the Mother City’s hub, not only are middle income earners unable to enjoy its offerings after dark, but the City itself loses out on the potential of growing its after hours economy, with the development of new businesses and job opportunities which ultimately contribute to its success. Property developers, then, hold the key to providing a solution that benefits all those affected.