Greenmarket lease plan gets go-ahead

Greenmarket Square.

The City of Cape Town’s plan to lease Greenmarket Square for five years has been given the thumbs up by the Cape Town Partnership.

“Appreciating the need to create and maintain excellent public spaces, we share the city’s vision to realise the potential of not only Greenmarket Square, but of all significant public spaces in the broader city – both from an economic perspective and to the benefit of all Capetonians,” said Cape Town Partnership’s chief executive officer, Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana.

The city this week approved a recommendation to start the public process that will guide the proposed granting of rights to use, control and manage Greenmarket Square, one of the city’s oldest public spaces, and St George’s Mall.

Garreth Bloor, mayoral committee member for tourism, events and economic development, said it was expected that the successful “partner-operator” would be able to raise the public and private sector investment needed to make it a more vibrant and sustainable space.

“Greenmarket Square and St George’s Mall are incredibly important economic, social and cultural heritage spaces. Interventions are required to revitalise these spaces and to ensure that they remain important and inclusive meeting places for all Capetonians, that they unlock investment to drive economic opportunities, and that they become financially sustainable assets.”

According to the 2014 State of the Central City Report, 8,040 people are employed in informal trade in the CBD, compared with the 2,797 working in the area’s shopping malls. Bloor said the city would test various partnership management models as part of this public participation process, expected to take two years.

The second phase, which would deal with the development of a proposed long-term public space management model and precinct master plan, as well as plans for the restoration and regeneration of the public space, would run from 2017 to 2019. Bloor said past attempts to manage these specific public spaces were disjointed and did not yet yield the desired results.

“This was partly because the necessary resources, capacity and partnerships were not secured. We believe that a new management model which is based on partnerships will actively encourage and allow public, private and voluntary actors to contribute the required knowledge resources and capacity that is needed to ensure that these spaces retain and enhance their creativity, energy and edge.”

Makalima-Ngewana said any plans by the Cape Town Partnership for the city’s informal trading spaces would be finalised with the traders themselves. She said many traders in the city complain of low margins and the struggle to attract customers out-of-season.

“It is for this reason, that the Cape Town Partnership has begun engaging with the City of Cape Town and with informal traders in all areas of Cape Town’s central city in an attempt to ameliorate challenges, work towards solutions by specifically focusing on public space management and infrastructural upgrades, as well as looking at innovative ways to support local business, while at the same time ensuring that the public spaces are welcoming to whomever utilises them.”

Makalima-Ngewana said the Partnership believed public spaces should be economically viable for the people who earn a living there, and welcoming to those who visit.

For Greenmarket Square, as well as other public spaces, the Cape Town Partnership would encourage traders to think above the usual product mix to include items that appeal to locals as well as tourists. An example would be to include pop-up stores in St George’s Mall showcasing the work of students from design schools.

She said traders had indicated that infrastructural support was their biggest challenge on Greenmarket Square. “We continue to engage with our partners to discover creative and pragmatic solutions to upgrading the infrastructure of public spaces.”