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How Green Point got its groove back

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The Green Point turnaround is due to the convergence of a number of forces, such as the enforcement JP Smith's “broken windows” philosophy.

Cape Town – In the 1990s Green Point was rundown, the streets were chock full of litter, buildings were dilapidated and in a state of decay, and the feeling among some owners was that they couldn’t give their property away. 

So, where did it all go wrong? 

It happened when drug dealers moved into the area in the mid-1990s, sparking a rise in crime and urban decay.

Two decades later, though, businesses are booming, property prices are soaring and the area has become “sizzling hot”.

So, where did it all go right?

The Green Point turnaround is due to the convergence of a number of forces, such as the enforcement of the “broken windows” philosophy by then Green Point councillor JP Smith, the launch of the Green Point City Improvement District, a range of civil society initiatives and a slew of developments.

“I remember that at the time I counted 120 empty premises and 14 slum properties,” says Smith, who was the councillor from 2000 to 2010. 

The Green Point CID was formed when ratepayers agreed to pay a levy – based on the value of their property – for extra services.

When it was formed in 2001, the value of property in the Green Point area was at an all-time low with people referring to it as “Hillbrow by the sea”.

“People were moving out,” says Green Point CID CEO Marc Truss. “Something had to be done.”

The CID tackled crime and grim”, planting trees, putting up lights and removing about 1 500 bags of rubbish each month. They also added security – rent-a-cops – to top-up the local authority’s services.

“We are a strengthening hand to existing service providers. We wanted to make people feel safe,” said Truss.

He says crime has decreased over the past 15 years, and although he can’t give precise figures, he believes the CID has helped to reduce criminal acts by at least 50% in Green Point.

Smith says that in addition to the CID initiatives, civil society, the police and the Community Police Forum all converged to eradicate crime and grime.
“I think the first real swing came about in 2007,” he says.

Now that the area had turned, the next challenge was to change the perception that Green Point was in a state of permanent decay.

These initiatives were a major confidence booster for developers to enter the area – and over the years the area has seen residential and commercial development. 
File picture: Matthew Jordaan/Independent Media
Then came the 2010 Soccer World Cup, which saw the construction of the Cape Town Stadium – home of Premier Soccer League clubs Ajax Cape Town and Cape 
Town City, and music concerts with Justin Bieber recently selling out the venue.

A legacy of the World Cup was the Green Point Common, which is a slice of paradise in the heart of the Mother City. The park is undoubtedly Cape Town’s best kept secret – it has an outdoor gym, creative jungle gyms, a labyrinth and a rich variety of indigenous flora.

It’s all about location. Green Point is a stone’s throw away from the Waterfront and conveniently sandwiched between the CBD and Atlantic Seaboard, and has great restaurants and hipster hangouts.

It’s little wonder that property in Green Point is in massive demand with price growth year-on-year at some of the highest capital appreciation rates in the country.

Billy Rautenbach, sales director of Seeff Atlantic Seaboard & City Bowl, describes Green Point as an “investment hot spot”, which is real estate speak for “buy now, you won’t be sorry”.

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