Milpark's triangle of opportunity

Posted On Monday, 12 December 2011 02:00 Published by
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Sufficiently outside of the Jo’burg CBD to make suburban, yet close enough to make it city, Milpark is a quirky node with showbiz panache

It’s the almost fictional triangle of Milpark.  But instead of things disappearing in this triangle new property opportunities are appearing.

Surrounded by Melville and Parktown in the north and Cottesloe and Auckland Park in the west, Milpark officially barely exists: on the map it’s Braamfontein Werf with miniscule Sunnyside in the middle.

As one of Johannesburg’s almost forgotten yet  strategic spots it’s no surprise that some enterprising people and businesses have been taking advantage of the location in recent years with some serious development on the horizon.

Milpark, it seems, is more than borders on maps. Milpark hospital is in Parktown West, Milpark Business School’s in Melville, Milpark Garden Court registersits address as being in Auckland Park.  Yet they are all within half a kilometre of each other.
The fact that two of Johannesburg’s busiest roads bisect here is significant. Then there’s the fact of who’s in the neighbourhood.  Firstly: Students, lot of them. The University of Johannesburg is down the road to the west.  Wits is next door and there are three schoolsin the vicinity: McCauley House Convent, the German School and John Orr Tech. Next are those in show business and the arts: Melville and Auckland Park to the west and the SABC monolith down the road.

Developers have discovered the joy and remuneration of restoring old urban precincts instead of building new ones such as Melrose Arch and Illovo Boulevard.  It began some time ago and has been gradual and steady. Early in the 2000’s The Refinery was established by Ricci Polack’s Lifestyle Lofts in various stages. Then came Milpark Mews with 324 apartments in the mid 2000’s, aimed at the ever-present student market.

44 Stanley Avenue has become an integral landmark in Milpark’s organic collective of developments. Eight, otherwise utilitarian office buildings, were converted into a 4500sqm of swanky shopping and office spaces.  With historic stinkwood trees planted alongside the complex without and Leopard and Olive trees planted within, there is an earthy feel to the complex.

Adding to the vibe and student cum artistic feel of the area is the South African School of Motion Picture and Live Performance, or Afda.  An institution with internationally recognised courses in acting, directing and production, television, make-up and styling, editing, animation, scriptwriting and cinematography and which has alumnus nominated for Emmy Awards. Ninety percent of honours graduates are in leadership roles in their field. Afda campus is directly behind the Atlas Studios.

Atlas Studios contributes to the showbiz feel of Milpark.  The studios are accommodated in the old Coca-Cola bottling plant.  It was later taken over by Atlas Bakery. When the bakery closed the building lay derelict until Jo'burg architect and property developer Jonathan Gimpel bought it. The original plan was to turn it into stylish offices and shops but soon the need for studios overruled those plans. Gimpel similarly developed the Media Mill, the former Blue Ribbon bakery across the road which houses a newspaper and other media organizations.

The Institute for Marketing Management (IMM) is based at Atlas studios and adds to the student mix of the area.

Across the way are the Frost Avenue Flats. Over thirty unique flats that mix work and living space. Film production company Curious Pictures is based here as well as Ross Douglas, managing director of Artlogic, the company responsible for the Jo’burg Art Fairs and the Food-Wine-Design Fairs. He lives in and works from, his apartment.

But what of the future? Enter Egoli Gas. Anyone who knows Milpark has images of those giant black gas tanks. The plan is for one of those to be demolished and two will remain in operation. A building that perfectly matches the tank’s size and height will replace it, with an open internal core, to be constructed either as loft apartments or offices. More office blocks are planned along Annet Road.The 14.5ha Egoli Gas site, dating back to 1939, is said to be in line for a makeover that will make it the city’s latest hot-spot. Lifestyle shopping boutiques, trendy restaurants, loft apartments, an international hotel andslick offices are all lined up.

Approximately 35 000msq of residential space will be built, with 700 middle to high-end apartments, and over seven hundred student studios. Some 40 000sqm will be set aside as office space. There is 10000sqm of shopping space to be rolled out and a 100 room boutique hotel. The 252 room Milpark Holiday Inn is in for little competition.

Although heritage approval is still pending, applications have been made to the City for the necessary rezoning. Approval in the new year is highly anticipated, a developer still needs to be selected. Construction should start towards the latter half of 2012. It is anticipated that over R1-billion will be invested.

From a green point of view some effort is being made to restore the area along-side the stream that runs into the Braamfontein Spruit. A parkland will be landscaped toward the eastern side of the land; a grassed amphitheatre is also planned, as well as a pond. The park will be open to the public.

Milpark has shown that it has steadily provided a return on developers’ investments consistently over the last 10 years. Wait and see as great things continue to appear in the Milpark Triangle.

Publisher: eProp
Source: eProp

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