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Development leaping ahead in Johannesburg's CBD.

Posted On Wednesday, 23 July 2003 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Performance indicators show a 200% increase in building-plan approvals for 2002-03 in city area.

Lael BethlehemThe Johannesburg urban rejuvenation project is reaping rewards, with the Johannesburg Development Agency's (JDA's) most recently published performance indicators showing a 200% increase in building plan approvals, both residential and commercial, in the inner city between January last year and June this year .

 JDA spokesman Tshepo Nkosi says this is the best indicator of whether private sector investment is taking off in Johannesburg's inner city.

 "We have also seen that building activity (residential and commercial) has increased by 500% between 2001 and 2002."

 Nkosi says the latest figures from the SA Property Owners Association indicate a stabilisation in the vacancy rate of A- and B-grade commercial property stocks in both the inner city and adjacent Braamfontein.

 For the past two years, office vacancies in Braamfontein have stood at 12% and at 24% in the central business district (CBD).

 Using December 2001 as a base, median office rentals charged have increased from R22,25/m² to R27/m² in the CBD during 2002.

 In Braamfontein, median office rentals have dropped slightly from 45% to 44%.

 Another economic indicator employed by the JDA involves measuring the attendance of various inner city entertainment centres. Between last year and this year, attendances increased 11,7%.

 Nkosi says the perceptions of businesses operating in the inner city have also changed.

 "The overall inner city confidence score for 2003 is 46,2%, a rise of 3,1% from last year. Also, looking at the overall awareness and satisfaction with the JDA, over half the respondents were aware of the agency and 84% were aware of our initiatives," says Nkosi.

 "All these indicators show the CBD rejuvenation project is on its way to realising the vision of turning the city of Johannesburg into a world-class African city ."

 Extremely important to the success of these initiatives is the new Nelson Mandela Bridge, which was officially opened by the former president on Sunday. It works in tandem with the M1-Carr Street interchange, the on- and off-ramps of the double-decker highway.

 "You don't want to spend millions in public funds on regenerating the CBD without taking into cognisance issues such as access," Nkosi says.

 One direct investment of the bridge and its on- and off-ramps is the Mills development in Newtown, which, at a cost of R50m, will be developed into commercial and residential facilities.

 The JDA spokesman says that in Newtown alone there are 1000 new living units and 1000 more are being planned as part of the Brickfields Project, which is being developed by the Johannesburg Housing Company with funding from Anglo American, Absa, the National Housing Finance Corporation, the Gauteng Partnership Fund, and the Gauteng housing department.

 "Our preliminary investigations with property developers in and around the city indicate an increased interest from the public in loft apartments. Therefore the inner city is receiving attention from the property market," says Nkosi.

 A number of hotels have also been converted into residential space and fully let with a long waiting list.

 A nongovernmental organisation, the Johannesburg Housing Company, says that apart from Newtown, it also has projects on the go in Fordsburg, Jeppestown, Troyeville and Hillbrow.

 "These are refurbishments of blocks of flats as well as the conversion of offices into residential units," says Johannesburg Housing Company spokesman Dombolo Masilela.

 He says 13 projects are currently on the go to provide 1800 housing units, which include townhouses and flats .

 "Our research shows us that people come to the city to create a base for themselves before looking elsewhere. While here in Johannesburg they all want accommodation. All of our projects are mixed-income projects," Masilela says.

 She says the company expects a large number of mixed-income people to move back in the CBD. The introduction of Metro police and closed-circuit cameras in Fordsburg and the inner city has contributed significantly to bringing down the levels of crime.

 Neil Fraser, CEO of non governmental organisation the Central Johannesburg Partnership, also believes that there is going to be a revival in inner city living among middle income and upper middle income groups.

 Another exciting development announced for Newtown recently is the arts, culture, science and technology department's intention to spend about R150m to turn the Electricity Workshop into a Science Museum .      

Last modified on Monday, 19 May 2014 10:25

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