Sea Point: From seedy to spiffing

Private Property South Africa
Angelique Arde

Had you bought property for sale in Sea Point 15 years ago, most people would have called you daft. Back then the suburb was in decay. Crime infested and synonymous with prostitution, Sea Point was “the capital of sleaze”, as ward councillor JP Smith puts it. And he should know. Smith is the chairperson of the City of Cape Town’s Safety and Security Portfolio Committee and the councillor for Sea Point, Green Point, Mouille Point, Three Anchor Bay, Bantry Bay, Braemar Estate and Fresnaye. He has lived in the area for the past nine years. Smith says that in 2000 about 120 shops in Main Road stood empty alongside an inordinate number of “adult entertainment” stores. Prostitutes and drug dealers brazenly plied their trade and the suburb was home to about 370 street people and 14 slum buildings, euphemistically known as “residential hotels”. It wasn’t the type of neighbourhood where you would want to invest, let alone live or raise a family. Sea Point Beach RoadThankfully, Sea Point is a very different place today. It has turned the corner, says Smith. “There are now only about five empty shops and very few B-grade tenants, just a couple of ‘problematic buildings’ and hardly any dodgy businesses left in Sea Point. We’ve also managed to reduce the number of street people to just 60 using social development solutions, such as housing, employment and reintegration, rather than law enforcement.” Smith says this turnaround is largely thanks to the efforts of the City Improvement District to create a clean and safe urban environment where business can thrive. The CID and its partners deployed “lots of interventions – every trick in the book”, he says. Evidently these have paid off. While the sleaze label has left an indelible impression, Sea Point has certainly cleaned up its streets and its image, emerging a trendier suburb that is more sought-after than ever. Boutique hotels (think the five-star Hôtel Le Vendôme), restaurants such as Harveys and the Duchess of Wisbeach, and coffee bars like Fego and Vida all contribute to the cosmopolitan vibe that attracts foreign and local investors alike. Smith says that over the past three years investors have pumped anywhere between R200 million and R480 million into the suburb. This is most evident on Main Road, where every second building is being treated to a facelift ... or an extreme makeover. No doubt, it has a lot to do with Cape Town being a host city for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the development of a world-class 68 000-seater stadium in neighbouring Green Point. The investment in and renewal of Green Point has had enormous spin-offs for Sea Point and home owners are among the many beneficiaries. Sea Point SkylineProperty for sale in Sea Point fetches a mint. The most modest bachelor pad fetches R1m and there’s one Sea Point mansion on the market for R80m. Viciously over-priced, perhaps, but not unheard-of for the top end of the Atlantic Seaboard. Of course, most Sea Point properties are selling for more sane amounts, closer to the R1m mark than the R80m, but what’s noteworthy is that the market is strong. Estate agents say that property for sale is selling – although it’s taking up to 100 days to sell. According to Deeds Office data supplied by Lightstone, 167 Sea Point properties have changed hands so far this year. On average, freehold properties have sold for R1,9m and sectional title properties have gone for an average of R1,4m. There are fewer houses for sale in Sea Point mostly because freehold property comprises only 13% of market stock in the suburb. Most property in Sea Point (87%) is sectional title. Over the past 12 months, 267 properties sold in Sea Point: 47 new sectional title properties that went for an average price of R1,558 000 million, and 196 established sectional title properties that sold for an average price of R1,5m. The remaining 24 sales were of freehold properties that went for an average of R2,355 000 million. Most recent buyers in Sea Point are classified as “mature” – that is aged 36 to 49 – and the bulk of recent sellers (37%) are pensioners. Whether you’re young, “mature” or entering your twilight years, Sea Point holds appeal for people at all stages of life from all walks of life. A spectacular array of amenities (including a glorious promenade, public swimming pool, park for mothers and a Putt-Putt course), safety and security, proximity to the city (a city that has it all), the sea and the shops, the V&A Waterfront, the views, the vibe, and a wonderful mix of people: Sea Point simply has it all. You’d be daft not to buy there.

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