Property values in the Bellville CBD, at the heart of the Cape Town northern suburbs, have risen by 52.5% since 2010, according to recent research conducted by The Greater Tygerberg Partnership and urban development consultancy, Our Future Cities. The figure is a reflection of growing interest in Bellville and the broader Greater Tygerberg Area (GTA) by savvy investors seeking to make strong returns and capturing the rising tide of opportunity in the area. Investment values between 2015 and 2019 were consistent at over R600-million per year.
With the Bellville Central Business District (CBD) at its heart, the GTA hosts major nodal industrial and commercial zones characterised by a wealth of health, education, logistics, manufacturing and retail operations.
Development values across all sectors have been rising over the past ten years. In that time, the total value of approved building works in the area equates to R7.3-billion, arising from just over 9 000 development applications, covering a footprint of 990 286 square metres. Of that, R4.86-billion was invested in the last five years.
Significant recent developments include the R126-million Vodacom Techno Centre building in Bellville and the R171-million upgrade to the PetroSA head office in Parow. The R246-million upgrade of Parow Centre – part of a planned phased mixed-use transit-oriented development, the construction of the R157.1-million Biomedical Science Research Building and the R111-million new City of Cape Town Water and Sanitation Head Office in 2018, are among several developments valued at over R50-million, in addition to the University of the Western Cape’s R244-million Community and Health Sciences Campus in Bellville CBD, and the R95-million African Genomics Centre.
Devmark’s R3-billion Bellville Velodrome Galleria development and the University of Stellenbosch’s BellPark Hospital Precinct, valued at R250-million, are in planning phase in Tyger Valley, north of the Bellville CBD.
“Bellville is the most opportunistic area in South Africa. Existing developers are sitting on a gold mine. New developers can enter the market at relatively low prices. It’s very exciting.” – Warren Hewitt, CEO, Greater Tygerberg Partnership
Industrial is a growth area
Industrial property accounted a cumulated total of R1.13 billion of developments recorded in the same time frame, covering 168 921 square metres. Stikland and Elsies River Industrial recorded the highest values, at R718.6 million and R165.6 million respectively.
High-density residential coming home
The residential sector recorded R1.21-billion in development over a total residential footprint of 185 792 sqm. Multi-storey residential flats were the predominant form, comprising around 1 283 units and the rest comprising single residential houses and 47 units in townhouse developments.
Supporting the development of higher-density residential accommodation, Bellville is becoming a centre for affordable accommodation, meeting the needs of the under-served market in the Cape Town metropole, particularly with a focus on transit-oriented development that offers residents easy access to multiple public transport options and mixed-use amenities.
Development incentives such as the Urban Development Zone in the Voortrekker Road Corridor and attractive PT1 and PT2 zoning which allows fewer parking bays per dwelling, support investors in this sector. Section 13 Sex tax incentive also enables inventors to write off a percentage of the cost of, or improvements to, buildings acquired or built after 21 October 2008.
Other incentives include the Parow Station Precinct Heritage Exemption, and local government incentives for inclusionary housing development. In particular, Voortrekker Road, the main commercial spine that links the Cape Town CBD with the Bellville CBD, is zoned as General Business or Local Business, which allows for medium- to high-density developments comprising residential and commercial or retail uses.
Looking to Bellville’s future
In March this year, the Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Dan Plato, announced the Mayoral Visibility Service Delivery Acceleration (MVSA), which earmarks R200-million to fast track efforts to improve the quality, safety and environment of communities across the Cape Town metropole. Bellville, which is seen as the secondary city to Cape Town, is one of those communities. The MVSA is linked to the City of Cape Town’s Bellville Future City masterplan.
Long in planning, the Mayor launched the Bellville Future City initiative, which seeks to activate immediate interventions to improve the public realm, and safety and security in the Bellville CBD, in preparation for a longer-range programme of public sector investments in the area.
These developments are bound to have a positive impact on the economic and commercial standing of the Bellville CBD. While the CBD itself has degraded over recent decades, the centre has shown itself to be a resilient commercial centre that supports a high street environment, with easily accessible ground-floor retail located around a public transport node serving local and neighbouring communities.
A resilient business centre
During 2021, the GTP conducted a study into the business and retail environment in the Bellville CBD and the Voortrekker Road Corridor. The Bellville CBD is broadly defined as a compact 1.2 kilometre area. Most notably, between 2017 and 2021, the number of businesses operating in the CBD increased substantially, despite the Day Zero water crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. This development is notable given that the growth in business occurred between 2020 and 2021, when many businesses around South Africa were closing. Only 57 spaces were recorded as vacant, equating to a vacancy rate of around 6%, from street level up to the 11th floor of the tallest building in the CBD.
The bulk, 12.3%, of commercial activity is concentrated around the public transport interchange. This zone reported the greatest increases in economic activity, from 40 businesses operating in 2017 to 118 businesses in 2021.
According to the survey, the top three economic activities in 2021 were wholesale and retail trade, accommodation, and food services. These businesses are typically located around Central Bellville close to the public transport hub. Most of these businesses are situated in street-facing premises.
This is ideal for attracting foot traffic passing through the transport hub throughout the day, reflecting a typical high street environment. In a GTP pedestrian survey conducted in 2021, the total post-COVID weekday pedestrian count was around 50 000 per day, and 40 000 on Saturdays. Pre-COVID numbers were naturally higher, at around 78 000 and around 87 000 on weekdays and Saturdays respectively.
The GTP estimates there are 100 000 students enrolled at tertiary institutions in Bellville, with around 5 000 living in residences in the Bellville CBD. These students rely heavily on the retail outlets and public transport access.
Location, location, location
Bellville is not only the epicentre of the financial services sector in the region, with six multinational financial services corporates headquartered in Bellville, including Sanlam, Momentum, Santam, PSG and others.
The concentration of commercial activities is also augmented by a highly accessible location, with two national highways and a busy public transport interchange, three major universities among over 150 educational institutions, and the second largest hospital in the country supported by nearly 1 000 health-related businesses.
What already exists in Bellville is a potent package of affordability, connectivity and accessibility, with opportunities today for investors to reap significant rewards from and into the future.