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Friday Aug 17, 2018

Joburg to renovate inner-city buildings as affordable accomodation

Developers of the 71 derelict inner-city properties taken over by the City of Joburg and now being offered for refurbishment have expressed interest, but have concerns about the costs involved.

These properties are set to be converted into student accommodation, lower-income housing and some for business.

This week, Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba urged property developers, funders, professionals and the construction industry to work with the city to redevelop, rejuvenate and regenerate properties in areas such as Hillbrow, Berea, Ellis Park, Doornfontein, Newtown, Jeppestown, Braamfontein, Pageview and Turffontein.

According to Mashaba, speaking during a briefing to developers about the stringent conditions of the refurbishments, the buildings being released have resulted in significant degeneration of some areas and are "infested with crime, drugs and syndicates taking over state-owned buildings".

He also said it was unfortunate that, although the country was 24 years into the new democratic dispensation, the city still suffered from the injustices of the apartheid regime and that the average person earned too much to qualify for free housing, yet earned too little to qualify for a bond.

"Go to Rosebank and you will see an area that is experiencing a transformation. But the Joburg inner city is frozen in time.

"It is dark, brown, gloomy and dirty. However, we will transform it; the wheels of change are already changing.

According to the mayor, the buildings would be reconstructed to provide accommodation for rentals ranging between R800 and R1 000 a month. They would also provide job opportunities to participants across various sectors.

Tumanaga Qholosha, a potential investor, said the session was informative and the initiative overall was impressive. However, there were a lot of issues that needed to be ironed out.

"City regeneration is always a challenge and it requires bold decisions. Investors need to be lured, and that is the most difficult thing for a project of this magnitude. There is red tape because a lot of black people want to be involved, but we do not have deep pockets," added Qholosha.

According to him, another challenge was that banks were able to provide finance to buy cars, but not for property.

He further said provision would have to be made by the government for additional hospitals, police stations and social housing to accommodate the influx of people into the inner city after the regeneration.

Reuben Masango, the member of the mayoral committee for development planning, said: "We commit to doing everything within our means, and within the necessary regulatory framework, to assist developers in the building applications and approval processes to ensure the speedy development of these properties into affordable property."

Tender documents have been available since July 16 for the purchase of the buildings at the Johannesburg Property Company offices in Braampark, and applications should be submitted by November 30.

City Watch
The Star


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