Plans to revive CBD still being reviewed

04 November 2019 | Infrastructure

Yolanda Nel While businesses in Windhoek’s city centre have been waiting for years for City Council to revitalize the Central Business District (CBD), regulations are still being discussed at various decision-making levels and as a result, have not yet been approved.
According to a report published by our sister publication Allgemeine Zeitung, business owners have been waiting since 2014 for the City, who co-initiated a steering committee for the revitalization of the CBD, to implement the initiative which is being hindered because certain urban regulations have not yet been adopted.
While the City did not respond to questions posed by the AZ, CoW spokesperson Lydia Amutenya told Windhoek Express that the City has drafted the proposed Special Ratings Area Regulations that would enable the establishment of special ratings areas (SRAs).
“An SRA, also known as business improvement districts (BID), refers to a clearly defined geographical area approved by a local authority, in which property owners can raise levies to fund ‘top up’ services for that specific area. This is a voluntary process whereby property owners in a specific business or residential area may apply to Council to be considered as a special ratings area,” she said.
According to Amutenya, the main objective of the SRAs/BID is to improve their specific geographical area in terms of safety, vibrancy, area beautification and streetscape improvements. “In order to realise these improvements, a funding model is proposed whereby property owners within a defined SRA, once such an SRA is approved by Council, will be charged an extra levy, that will be collected by Council and paid over to this body for the purpose of implementing improvement activities as outlined in the business plan for a specific SRA.”
The collection and paying over of this extra levy and the utilisation thereof will be regulated by the SRA. The “planned CBD rejuvenation efforts” referred to is proposed to be undertaken under the legal framework of an SRA.
Although the regulations are still being reviewed at various decision-making levels of Council, there was no answer as to when it would be finalised. “Following the completion of this consultative process, regulations will be submitted to Council for consideration, where after – and if approved – it will be submitted to the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development for Gazetting,” she added.
However, according to the managing director of the property brokerage group Broll Namibia, Terrance Makari, the first step in implementing the plan is the regulation that governs such an initiative. “This would legitimize the body managing and promoting the CBD revival and we should be able to regulate additional charges through the CoW. Without this legislation, we have no resources available and without this, there is no implementation of the objectives and projects,” Makari told the AZ.
The Steering Committee, through its own efforts and resources, drew up a regulation and submitted it to the City in mid-2018. Since then, it would seem nothing has happened. “As long as the regulation has not been adopted, the committee will have no authority whatsoever,” Makari said. Originally, in 2014, the CBD was defined as the 1.9km² area between Robert Mugabe Avenue, Bahnhof, Lazarett, Edison, Voigt and Bismarck streets and Hosea-Kutako Drive. The initiative to modernize and revitalize the city centre dragged on after the City requested time to draw up the necessary regulation, the AZ reported earlier.

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