Improvement district gets green light


After more than two years of planning, the Tyger Valley Improvement District (TVID) has been given the green light by the City of Cape Town to provide top-up municipal services, at an extra cost to businesses in the area.

The TVID wants to establish and maintain a safe, clean, well-managed business district, known as a special rating area (SRA) that attracts and retains business investment and activities in the area, while countering urban decay.

The extra amount those in the area will pay for beefed up cleaning and law enforcement services will be based on the value of their properties.

Northern News asked the TVID what percentage of property value this would be, but they referred us to their website.

Quintin Rossi from Spear Properties started the campaign for an improvement, saying it was needed to rid the area of crime and grime.

“From an investment and tenant retention perspective, this had to get dealt with quickly and efficiently. Our business is to own investment properties in the greater Cape Town area, and in the bulk of the areas where our investments are situated there are established improvement districts that function well and help to underpin additional value to our investments,” said Mr Rossi.

It had taken 30 months to get from the “concept stage” to the approval in what had been a very strict process.

“We had to tick every box in order to move onto the next phase of the establishment. A clear demarcation had to be presented to the City,” he said.

Ian Neilson, mayoral committee member for finance, said the City had approved the SRA at a council meeting on Thursday March 31.

“The community approached the City and expressed a desire to establish a SRA, also known as a City Improvement District (CID). A steering committee representing the property owners in the area then met with the City. The committee had to generate a business plan and hold a public meeting to promote the intention of establishing an SRA and had to present the business plan to the property owners.”

The committee had to obtain at least a 50 percent plus one majority support to allow them to submit a formal application to the City, of which they received 60 percent.

Once the objections had been processed, a report with all the documents was submitted to council for consideration.

Ward 3 councillor Brendan van der Merwe backed the establishment of the TVID and attended the public meetings to respond to technical questions on behalf of the City and ensure the correct processes were followed.

“TVID supports a business mix including various retailers of which many represent the motor industry, food and fast-food retailers, extensive office buildings and a small shopping mall. The area is further defined by the Bellville Velodrome and a significant area of vacant undeveloped land adjacent to the Velodrome,” said Van der Merwe.

“The public environment is in a fairly well maintained state with few indications of urban degradation, yet some problems are clearly visible in some parts of the area.

“Most business and property owners are aware of crime and have raised certain concerns as a number of businesses have been directly affected by crime in the area,” said Mr Van der Merwe.

Mr Rossi said he found buildings in areas without improvement districts tended to be vacant for longer and drew lower rentals.

“TVID is not solely for the benefit of Edward Street but rather for the greater Tyger Valley commercial precinct. TVID will function as an extension of the City in relation to public safety within the demarcated area, along with urban management of public areas such as walkways, public roads and green belts.”

He said the TVID would have a “very close working relationship” with City service departments, the Metro police and the SAPS, allowing for a “quick turnaround time in terms of service delivery to the TVID.”

Mr Van der Merwe said the steering committee had identified the SRA model as a good way to stem further urban decay and crime in the area.

“The formation of an SRA will enable the establishment of a statutory body to manage and implement additional public safety and urban management operations. The property owners from the area will pay an additional rate based on the value of their property, to fund extra municipal services.

“These services typically include the provision of additional public safety, cleaning services, maintenance and/or upgrading of the urban public environment and/or infrastructure and social services that addresses social issues.”

Mr Neilson said the City would exercise an oversight and monitoring role for the TVID.

“The City will collect the SRA levies through the rates billing system, and pay these moneys over to the SRA board,” he said.

The TVID will be managed by its own board of directors, elected by the members of the SRA. The board consists of property owners within the SRA and a political representative, with observer status, from the City. The board manages a non-profit company, which is responsible for the management and will not receive a salary.

The TVID’s steering committee includes Cliff Toerien from Baker Street Properties, Joan Solms and John Bielich from the Ingenuity Property Fund, Louis Andrag from Leggato Investments and the CID management team Geocentrics led by Gene Lohrentz.

The TVID will be operational from Friday July 1, coinciding with the City’s new financial year.

“This is important, as the City will collect the additional SRA levies that will fund the SRA on behalf of the land owners via the rates billing process for the Tyger Valley SRA,” said Mr Van der Merwe.

Mr Rossi said the council had approved a five-year business plan and budget for the TVID.

“Given the overwhelming support received for the establishment, I can say without a doubt that the majority of property owners recognise that something needs to be done in the area to safeguard the future value of their investments and to ensure Tyger Valley remains an attractive tenant destination for years to come,” he said.

He added: “My message to current tenants and owners alike within the TVID would be that we have put our money where our mouths are. We, as the founding committee, are committed to the TVID and to making it a success. We will be held to account by the property owners within the TVID as well as the City in the execution of our business plan.”