Cape Town, the Mother City of South Africa, is fast turning out to become the star performer in the government's urban renewal programme for its nine major cities.

Leading the way with another Dh1.53 billion investment in its CBD (Central Business District) for the first six months of this year, the cumulative investment the city has attracted since the start of the programme (1999) now tops Dh5.75 billion. This comfortably exceeds the target of Dh5 billion set for the end of this year.

The total investment for the first six months (Dh1.53 billion) was made up of capital value of new leases (Dh42 million), new developments (Dh950 million), new purchases (Dh96 million) and upgrades and renewals (Dh445 million).

"Pleasingly, 88 per cent of all investments to date have been domestic, which is a positive sign for Cape Town's economy and de-monstrates that cities which are safe and clean with a well-managed public environment, inspire confidence.

And domestic confidence is the necessary trigger for international confidence," says Michael Farr, chief executive of the Cape Town Partnership, the co-ordinating body for urban renewal.

A recent investment by Eurocape Investments Limited, an Irish investment consortium, which has signed a deal to secure an entire city block consisting of eight buildings, certainly adds weight to these words.

While not disturbing the historic character of the buildings, conversions and refurbishments will include a 130-suite 6 star hotel, a rooftop lifestyle centre, pool and gymnasium, a mini conference and business centre, 151 luxurious apartments, a structured car park (not visible from the street), and ground level international brand retail space.

This is the largest private inner-city renewal project for South Africa in the past few years.

The new developments since mid-1999 have channelled some 2 billion rand into construction which created at least 12,000 jobs over three years, 4,000 of which are associated with the new Convention Centre on the Foreshore. Indirect jobs created for the entire period since the Partnership's formation have not been calculated, but could easily double the overall job creation figures.

The Cape Town Partnership has also led the way in South Africa by legally constituting a major Business Improvement District (CID), a new world-wide concept used to rejuvenate cities precinct-by-precinct. Creating a sense of civic pride and achievement by making the cities safer and cleaner to reverse capital flight and decentralisation is the major objective of CIDs.

Upgrading accommodation in the city is also important as a residential population is critical to the success of the city. Young professionals living in the city spend their money in retail stores, frequent restaurants, art galleries and museums and spend time in their own city. This also makes the city attractive to visitors.

The South African Cities Network has a number of specific programmes tied in with urban renewal which are: Metropolitan growth and development; Metro-politan transport and logistics; City HIV/AIDS mitigation; and City tourism.

Such is Cape Town's perceived success that the international research group Jones Lang LaSalle, has listed Cape Town with 24 other cities world-wide as "future winners".

The Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing at the University of Cape Town together with Fortune Magazine have also concluded that the city is an ideal location for disaggregated business because of its high skills base and relatively low cost of doing business.

CBD's importance to region and S. Africa

Socially, politically and historically, the Cape Town Central City's importance to South Africa and the region cannot be understated. On its own, the CBD of Cape Town;
- Generates over 15 per cent (R17.78 billion) of the Province's entire economy.

- Generates over 15 per cent (R17.78 billion) of the Province's entire economy

- Accounts for 27.2 per cent of all employment in the Metropole

- Houses 22.8 per cent of all business in the Metropole.

- Generates significant revenue for the City Council through rates every year, much of which is not spent in the Central City but re-distributed to those areas more in need.

- Attracts 240,000 commuter movements each working day of the week.

- Is the first port of call for many international investors, whether they intend placing their business in the Central City or elsewhere in the Metropole or the Province. It success, therefore, determines overall success for every area.

Source: Cape Town Partnership