Rosebank on the rise

Posted On Friday, 19 July 2002 10:01 Published by
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But a slow system of levy payment is holding things up
By Ian Fife and Siyabulela Qoza

Business is investing more in Rosebank, which until a few years ago was Gauteng's forgotten business node. But bumbling metro officials are hobbling the suburb's revival.

Rosebank has been improving steadily ever since businesses formed a city-improvement organisation called Rosebank Management District (RBMD), and owners upgraded their properties, notably The Zone and The Mall.

The Zone has become a focus for a trendy crew of multicultural youngsters - especially since Yfm, perhaps SA's most successful regional radio station, moved in (Property November 9 2001). The cinema block, pavement restaurants and an increased array of up-market shops in The Mall are attracting an older avant-garde.

And there have recently been indications of a second wave of improvements. For one, boards went up a month or so ago to signal the intention of financial services company Decillion to relocate to Rosebank. The boards are down because Decillion is still in negotiations to sign a lease on what is expected to be a 1 400 m² office block built on Oxford Road opposite the Park Hyatt Hotel.

Also, developer Tiber Bonvec has bought a long-undeveloped site from Johnnic. It, too, is near the Hyatt, on the corner of Oxford Road and Jellicoe Avenue, and is characterised by an old block of flats that was preserved by Johnnic. Tiber Bonvec hasn't yet decided what to develop on the site.

'We have acted as a catalyst for most of the good things that are happening in Rosebank,' says Partnership for Urban Renewal's Neil Fraser, who was instrumental in setting up RBMD. 'Rosebank is cleaner and safer than it was four years ago.'

Fraser says the improvement in office and retail occupancy is partly a reflection of the fact that business wants to invest in clean, safe environments.

But efforts to attract more clients to Rosebank are being threatened by an agreement between the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Council and RBMD.

The council agreed to collect levies from property owners and then hand them over to RBMD for services such as cleaning and security. It planned to start collecting last February, but this was delayed until August.

The system has turned out to be problematic, because the council collects levies on the 10th of each month before paying them over the next month. This has put great strain on RMBD's funds. As a result, it has had cash-flow problems.

So far, it has managed to ride them out. Lynette Finlay, chairman of RBMD, says the management committee is able to meet monthly expenses, but can't pursue other initiatives.

Already, a marketing plan by Rosebank property owners has been stalled and is gathering dust because of the lack of funds.

Fraser is optimistic, though, that the billing problem will soon be over.

The concept of business improvement districts was started in 1993 in the Johannesburg inner city. It has since been successfully duplicated in Pretoria, Midrand, Cape Town and Sandton CBD.

Financial Mail

Publisher: Financial Times
Source: Financial Times

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