CBD revitalisation2

Posted On Wednesday, 07 February 2001 03:01 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Walking down Fox Street with Gerald Olitzki is like stepping out with Mr Jo'burg. 
The practising attorney, who has come up with a workable way of filling city-centre buildings with tenants, stops to press flesh and exchange pleasantries with a number of people mostly tenants in our short walk to Gandhi Square.

Gerald Olitzki When we reach the square, we run into acting inner city manager Graeme Reid, who is leading a tour of foreign executives organised by the Gordon Institute of Business.
The chain-smoking Reid is delighted. He takes Olitzki over to talk about the five buildings he owns on the square and his tenants, which include a listed company, Orlando Pirates and the SA Municipal Workers' Union.
Olitzki, who has worked in the city centre since 1972, tells the visitors there is probably more crime in Sandton than in this particular area of Johannesburg part of the growing 'safe zone' he is driving with Reid and Neil Fraser, executive director of the Central Johannesburg Partnership.

'There were two arrests on this square last month,' Olitzki says. 'One was a man caught urinating in public, the other was caught drinking. It was probably the same guy,' he chuckles.
Behind the glee is a serious mission to make the city centre a safe and pleasant place in which to work and play.
For Olitzki, this started with restoring and revamping buildings some of them national monuments, such as Elephant House on Market Street as A-grade office space and filling them with tenants.
Olitzki keeps costs down by doing everything himself, helped by a small staff. He deals with the subcontractors and manages the buildings. There are no headoffice costs he runs his property business from his practice on Fox Street and no marketing costs. His property business has been built on word of mouth and personal relationships with his tenants.

'I want a
ll my tenants to be able to come into my office and talk to me.' 

Olitzki rents to corporate clients, but also sets aside cheap rental space, making it available at R20/m².
Tenants taking this space typically include emerging entrepreneurs and professionals such as attorneys who want to move their practices from their homes in Soweto to town. He also rents to many unions which he says are 'star tenants' and to nongovernmental organisations.
Olitzki does not care about bad credit ratings if he thinks a prospective tenant has a sound business plan. The bigger picture is creating a safe zone, built on an east-west spine of what Olitzki calls 'worthwhile office space'.
'The city is not a monolith. It's a thing of many parts good parts and bad parts.'
So far Fox Street has been pedestrianised, Gandhi Square has been revamped; Main Street and the area around the high court are next. The Gauteng legislature intends to clean up the area around its premises.
The revampings are based on the plan for Gandhi Square, where Olitzki got property owners a 45-year use agreement for the square, whereby they pay for cleaning, landscaping and security guards.

'So what do you think?' he asks as we survey Gandhi Square.
The wide pavements are populated with school children waiting for buses. Two eateries have moved tables and chairs onto the street, and hope for the inner city is reflected in the new pots of young trees and shrubs that run the length of the square. 'Do you feel threatened?' he asks.
Mr Jo'burg, this is a very pleasant place.

Last modified on Monday, 19 May 2014 13:29

Most Popular

Kommetjie master plan development on the cards

Jul 11, 2020
A new mixed use development is being planned near the landmark Imhoff Farm in Kommetjie,…

Redefine Properties appoints Diane Radley to board of directors

Jul 21, 2020
JSE-listed diversified Real Estate Investment Trust Redefine Properties (JSE: RDF) has…

Will the repo rate hold or fall? Experts divided

Jul 13, 2020
South African Reserve Bank
Experts are divided on whether the South Africa Reserve Bank (SARB) Monetary Policy…

Commercial Rental Market Survey sees declining market activity and rising vacancy rates in Q2 2020

Jul 10, 2020
In this report, we discuss the 2nd quarter 2020 results of the rental market component of…

Lower house prices in the Western Cape behind renewed interest from first-home-buyers

Jul 16, 2020
Carl Coetzee CEO of BetterBond
Property in the Western Cape is regarded by many as among the most expensive in the…

Please publish modules in offcanvas position.