Plan to breathe new life into Long Street

Newly elected chairperson of the Long Street Association, Giancarlo Bruno, and consultant Grandt Mason.

The Long Street Association (LSA) has been revived, and plans to revitalise the entertainment strip is under way – starting with the upper side.

Giancarlo Bruno, the newly elected chairman of the association, said their aim was to put Long Street back on the map and turn it into the biggest entertainment and cultural hub in South Africa and eventually, Africa.

The brand for the improved strip will be LOVE LONG.

The LSA was first started by Beerhouse owner Randolf Jorberg, as the Long Street Residents’ Association disbanded.

The then LSA pioneered the closing of the street for New Year’s Eve in 2013, and every year since then. The association was also behind the implementation of eight dedicated law enforcement officers in 2015.

While the restaurant owner of Fork, Ed Saunders, left, Mr Jorberg is still an active member of the LSA, however, he could not be be voted onto the board, as he is abroad and can’t attend necessary meetings due to a threat to his life by organised crime groups.

He said the LSA now has 90 businesses from Long Street who are members.

Grandt Mason, a private consultant, said the idea for a proposal to rejuvenate Long Street came when Indigo, which owned most of the properties in Long Street, saw the negative impact the lockdown had on Long Street, and asked him to come up with an idea to rejuvenate the space, and attract a new kind of crowd.

Mr Mason added that Long Street was becoming more notorious over the years, and the pandemic was the final nail in the coffin.

The Central City Improvement District (CCID) safety manager, Muneeb Hendricks, said the lockdown has been devastating for businesses in Long Street, especially the bars and clubs, the latter still being unable to operate.

“As Long Street is internationally considered to be the premium party destination in Cape Town, a plan was needed to revive it.”

Part of the plan was to revitalise the LSA, he said, and Mr Bruno, who had just bought property in Long Street, showed interest in revitalising the street.

He would later be elected the chairman of the LSA, after a series of meetings with stakeholders, landlords and tenants. The LSA board is made up of landlords and a day trader, who gives the committee insight to Long Street in the daytime.

“We want to make sure the space attracts the right clientele. There needs to be a plan and vision for Long Street, and hopefully we can, in the next couple of months, create that vision.

“We want people can see it’s different – we want to make people feel safe and make it gorgeous, and make it secure.”

Mr Mason said the proposal was focused on upper Long Street – the section between Pepper Street and Long Street baths. “We wanted some visual change. There were many plans, however we wanted to show people that change.”

Other aspects of the proposal, which took a year of evaluation and surveys, include a beautification project, as well as an art project – painting the buildings with some murals.

“Long Street has got a good brand – it is a space for everyone and we want to bring that back – everyone has memories in Long Street and we want to make it a destination,” said Mr Bruno.

Some of the LSA’s short-term goals are to focus on beautifying the focus section of Long Street, keeping it clean, implementing more lighting for safety and getting colour into the street with a painting project.

The LSA will also act as an advisory to landlords on saturation, and mixes of space to ensuring the business offering is relevant.

Mr Bruno said the City had given the organisation 300 trees, while they collected barrels to plant the trees in, which are being sanded and varnished by the CCID.

He said the tree-planting is set to take place in the next three months.

The LSA will be funded by landlords and private donors. While they have funding for some of the smaller projects, Mr Bruno said they will need to raise R3 million for Phase 1 of the project, and are in need of corporate funding.

The CCID CEO, Tasso Evangelinos, said they support the establishment of the LSA and wanted to assist where possible. “We are heartened to see that so many stakeholders are keen to participate and be part of a community-driven revival of the area.”

Mr Hendricks said the CCID will provide guidance to the board members on international and local best practices, as well as assist in obtaining approval from the City and the Western Cape Government; publicising the project; and provide CCID services in the form of safety, security, urban management and social development.

He said the plan aims to put Upper Long Street back on the map as a must-visit destination for both locals and tourists.

“If implemented, major improvements will be made to the area, making it welcoming to visitors, promoting the economy of the area and adding to the vibrancy of the CBD.”

The CapeTowner contacted the City for comment, however, the media office replied saying they did not know which departments were aware of the proposed project.