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East City property holds its own during Covid

East City property holds its own during Covid

1 September 2020

The East City precinct of the Cape Town CBD is holding its own with property sales and developments worth millions of rands continuing in spite of the coronavirus pandemic causing economic upheaval.

While many cranes lie idle on construction sites across greater Cape Town, in the Cape Town CBD’s East City precinct, it’s business as usual in spite of months of restrictions imposed on the South African economy by Government to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Just nine months after launching to market, 63 % of The Harri, a new R70 million 48-unit apartment block and mixed-use property development going up at 75 Harrington Street in the East City has sold off-plan. Only 16 of 42 studio apartments remain unsold, while just two of the six loft apartments are still on the market.

Construction has already begun, with a completion date of April 2021. This follows neighbourhood construction which began last year of a new mixed-use development at 84 Harrington Street, which includes retail units, a restaurant, co-working space and residential living, as well as The Harrington, a mixed-use retail and commercial development at 50 Harrington Street, which borders Barrack and Buitenkant streets, which was completed in 2018.

“We sold right through lockdown,” says Jeff Kleu, co-developer with Steven Lampert, both of property-development company Sepia and Silk, which bucked a trend of national property sales plummeting by up to 70% in the month following the hard Lockdown that began at the end of March 2020. “We sold to investors wanting to buy to rent, parents buying an apartment for their student kids or a holiday flat, and to locals as well as Zimbabwean, German and USA nationals.”


The Harri development in the East City is expected to be completed in April 2021.

MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENT TREND

The Harri’s units are priced between R1 299 995 and R1 999 995 for a studio apartment ranging in size from 24,5m2 to 32,5m2, and R2 499 995 for a two-storey loft apartment.

The development, which is optimally located in the heart of Cape Town’s design district, offers a blend of apartment living with open-plan, tastefully furnished co-living and co-working space, and includes fireplace lounges, a TV room with a large smart TV and access to Netflix, three dedicated Zoom (video chat) rooms, a rooftop terrace with a gas braai and mini-bar area, and hotel-grade amenities like Wi-Fi, a concierge, a housekeeping service, and 24-hour security.

Right now, it’s a buyers’ market, Kleu notes. “Since we launched, interest rates have dropped from 10,25% to 7%,” he says. “This plays directly into the hands of the buyer because they’ll be paying substantially less on bond instalments, or it enables them to buy a much better apartment at a higher price point.”


The East City has become one of the Central City's most popular precincts. From left to right: Swan Café, Labotessa boutique hotel and New York Bagels.

EAST CITY REVIVAL

Harrington Street has been at the heart of much of the recent revival of the East City, which was previously a gritty industrial-commercial area. Major developments here include the upgrading of the Cape Town City Hall at a cost of R27 million, The Old Granary at R31 million, the purchase of the Nicro head office on Harrington Street by a European company, Groupe SOS, for R30 million, and the opening last year of a R75-million five-star boutique hotel on Church Square, Labotessa.

Sandra Gordon, Cape Town Central City Improvement District research economist, points out that while development activity was initially concentrated at the lower end of Harrington Street, developers have shifted their attention to the area above 50 Harrington Street, and she cites as examples both The Harri and 84 Harrington Street. “Numerous applications submitted to the City suggest that a variety of new retail and food outlets are set to open their doors, which will really cement the East City’s reputation as a trendy precinct that sees people flock to the area at the weekend,” she adds.

Kleu agrees, and notes that the magnetism of the area lies in its revival of old historic buildings, in beautiful retail stores, galleries, artisanal bakeries, restaurants and bars, as well as its close proximity to the Gardens Shopping Centre, Virgin Active Wembley Square, and several MyCiti bus stops. For Joburgers or foreigners, the fact that it’s in the heart of the vibrant Central City  with its cultural and retail attractions, including award-winning restaurants, and only a few minutes’ drive from iconic tourist hotspots like Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront and the Atlantic Seaboard’s “golden mile” beaches, adds immeasurably to the appeal of the area.

IMAGES: The Harri, CCID, Swan Café

Tags: East City The Harri Harrington Street Swan Café Labotessa hotel New York Bagels