District Six - Out Of The Ashes

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Once regarded by the previous government as a slum, District Six has come into its own in dramatic fashion. Named the Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town in 1897, the suburb once housed former slaves, artisans and merchants. In early 1966, the government declared the area a ‘whites-only’ zone and forcibly started to remove its residents. Tragically, by 1982 some 60 000 people had been relocated to the Cape Flats and the government moved in, flattening many of the beautiful old homes that dotted the area. Leaving only a few of the properties, churches and other places of worship standing, the area became a virtual wasteland as government bowed to increasing international and local pressure and was unable to develop the area as had been originally planned.Although the government attempted to justify why they had to forcibly remove the residents, the general consensus at the time, was that the proximity of the area to Cape Town’s city centre made it an ideal location to redevelop for the white community. Renamed by the then-government, today District Six is made up of the suburbs Zonnebloem, Walmer Estate as well as parts of Vredehoek.The picture has changed somewhat in the past 14 years and the area that refused to die has come back with a vengeance, now housing a plethora of different races in an region that has become famous not only for its past, but for what it has become today.Sales in the region have exploded in the past few years as more people settled in the area. Figures indicate that 95.59% of recent sellers have owned their homes for less than five years. District Six has literally become the place to be and this as fuelled prices. Lightstone’s statistics indicate that in 2010 alone 277 sectional title and 11 freehold properties changed hands, far exceeding the previous year’s sales, which reflected that 33 sectional title properties and 11 freehold properties were sold. Astonishingly, the statistics record that the average price of a freestanding home is now R1.152 m and interestingly enough, the highest price paid for a property in this former ‘slum’ was R3.583m. There have been 250 new bonds approved in the last 12 months with a total Rand value of R172m. Perhaps its past has helped fuel the demand. The area has become well-known across the world, thanks in part to David Kramer and the late Taliep Petersen’s play, District Six The Musical. Regarded by many as a cultural hot spot, the region continues to attract a wealth of jazz musicians, artists and others connected with the arts that are drawn to this historical site.There are a number of schools in the area, including the Walmer Estate Primary and Senior Schools, as well as similar establishments in Zonnebloem. However, the proximity to the centre of Cape Town itself affords parents a wide choice of educational facilities, including a number of top private schools. This appears to have added to the allure of the area with Lightstone statistics indicating that 62% of recent buyers are aged between 36 and 49 years old.

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