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East London’s beachfront 'could be the next big property thing'

East London was making headway on rejuvenating its inner city and maximising the real estate potential inherent in its beachfront properties, despite its geography and investor reluctance that could hinder the process, new research has unveiled.

The Trafalgar Inner City Report 2007 released this week measured world understandings against South African inner city issues, effectively demonstrating universal approaches to universal problems. The report, now in its sixth annual edition, reflected the extent to which internationally inner cities shared the same problems, historically experiencing cesspools of slum lands rife for building hijackers and slum lords and yet still home to thousands of people seeking better opportunities.

It demonstrated how South African inner city problems mirrored those experienced in urban areas throughout the globe and called on experts to consider universal answers rather than think-tanking fresh ones when seeking solutions.

In terms of East London, it characterised the beachfront as “a mix of modern hotel and office buildings and older, neglected buildings that (had) not seen renovations in many a year”. The under-utilised beachfront land and inner city properties compounded the situation and translated into prime real estate for rejuvenation and redevelopment.

Although tasked with these responsibilities, the Buffalo City Development Agency relies on partnerships between land owners – predominantly Propnet, the property arm of parastatal Transnet – and the private sector investment to achieve its objectives.

A recently-commissioned master plan outlined the long-term vision for the redevelopment of the mandated area, concentrating on the beachfront, Quigney and the inner city, while a city improvement district also aimed at facilitating the central business district’s redevelopment.

According to the report, this approach was in line with international experience which showed that city improvement districts have a universal track record for resolving crime and grime within neighbourhoods. When local businesses played their part by supporting homeless eradication and employment-creation initiatives, the impact was exponentially greater.

Read the full report here.

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