Johannesburg CBD Housing projects

Posted On Friday, 02 March 2001 03:01 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Inner-city housing is being snapped up and cleaned up While suburbia is steadily being transformed into a morass of ill-planned, overcrowded business nodes, Johannesburg's inner city is winning a war to create proper middle- and working-class housing, underpinned by a social housing programme. 

Taffy AdlerMixed-income projects by organisations such as Cope Housing Association and Johannesburg Housing Co (JHC) are pulling in new residents. Payment levels in areas that have been red-lined would make banks blush. One of the most successful is Newtown, where Cope and JHC have projects. Carr Gardens, JHC's 145-unit development in Fordsburg, was let in 15 days, says CEO Taffy Adler, raising to 1 300 the number of flats it owns and manages. Cope, which owns Newtown Urban Village, claims 100% occupancy for its R65 000/unit project. Adler says there are signs the city council will support the residential market further.
Johannesburg Metro wants to see about 5 000 units in the Newtown area within a couple of years. Adler aims to have 3 500 in two years.

Cope manager Margaret Fish says the association is awaiting confirmation of funding by the Presidential jobs summit before committing itself to building more units. But Cope is building 100 units in Troyeville, just east of the city centre, and has nearly 700 others in various suburbs on the border of the inner city. Fish says its default rate for co-operative housing is about 5%.
It is not only social housing programmes that are doing well. It is 18 years since landlords started to ignore the Group Areas Act and let flats to non whites to get around rent control in older buildings. Illegal tenants could not complain to the Rent Board about high rents because they were breaking the law. This led to rent racking - overcrowding of flats - by owners, to extract as much as they could from each flat. However, innovation by property managers and more dubious developments such as the entry of microlenders into the property business are creating a stability of sorts, marking a change in inner city housing patterns.

Trafalgar Properties has had a particularly good turnaround in its buildings. CEO Neville Schaefer says some of its Hillbrow buildings have gone from 65% to 1% vacancy. Defaults in payments have also plummeted. Schaefer credits this to two things: an improvement in security vetting and a change of landlords.
Many of Trafalgar's landlords are now young, black graduates who, Schaefer says, have created solid relationships with residents and improved the quality and cleanliness of buildings with tenant co-operation. In turn, Trafalgar has spent money on security and maintenance upgrades. JHC, the council and other organisations are co-operating to survey the condition of the residential stock in Hillbrow and Berea.

Tracy Naughton, who has been living in Anstey's Building for seven years, says there are irritations: 'The traffic lights on the corner of Jeppe and Joubert streets haven't worked for some time. The heads are stolen for their value in aluminium. This causes pandemonium as taxis race around the corner for a place in the rank.'
But she approves of the new culture that is emerging: 'The city has some amazing buildings, an excellent cultural precinct and a retail economy that is really pumping. Most people here have never been to Paris or Melbourne and have no reference for comparison. But I have and I love the way this African city is evolving.'
Rental markets are also picking up, Adler says. Demand is stronger in Fordsburg, west of the city, than Jeppe in the east. 'There is also strong demand at the right price in Hillbrow and Berea. But flats either empty or get overcrowded as soon as you raise rents above the right level.'
A Social Housing Foundation (SHF) study found that inner-city residents typically earn about R2 500/month. SHF, which helps raise funding for subsidised tenants, recommends that people spend at most 20% of their salaries on accommodation. JHC will use its next Fordsburg development, Tribunal Gardens, to test whether tenants will pay a premium for extras such as carpets, built-in cupboards and balconies.

Last modified on Monday, 19 May 2014 12:51

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