This past week, the City welcomed the Divercity Urban Property Fund’s investment of R2bn in Johannesburg as part of a strategy to create thriving mixed-use inner-city precincts. This investment, the largest in the Johannesburg CBD for some years, will be focused on the redevelopment of the iconic ABSA Towers Main building and Jewel City.
The newly launched Divercity is an investment fund backed by the experience of some of South Africa’s leading property investors and developers. It is set to renew and re-energise the country’s urban centres with its unique focus on inner-city precinct development which combines commercial buildings with affordable residential space to create inclusive and diverse neighbourhoods. Its strong business case is also transformative in a uniquely South African sense.
For the City of Johannesburg, the investment is an indication of investor’s renewed confidence in the potential held within the inner city.
Since coming into government, the new administration has long maintained that the revitalising the inner city by turning into a construction site of redevelopment is key component in creating jobs within the Johannesburg local economy and through strategic public private partnerships, also creating affordable quality housing for residents.
By working together with all sectors of society, we can progressively transform the inner city into a space where residents can live work and play.
Following a competitive bidding process, Divercity has acquired the 30-storey ABSA Towers Main building from ABSA, conditional on approvals from the Competition Commission.
The currently unoccupied building will be redeveloped into a one-of-a-kind mixed-use building, including 520 affordably priced residential rental apartments, a floor of coffee shops, restaurants and recreation space, child care facilities, a public park, integrated public transport facilities and a wealth of public art.
ABSA will also be leasing back nine floors with 10,000sqm of office space in the redeveloped building. Once completed, the development will be valued at over R400m.
The project will commence in early 2019, with ABSA expected to reoccupy the towers early in 2020. The 20 floors dedicated to residential accommodation and recreation will be launched in various phases.
Besides creating an inclusive new world-class ‘live, work, play’ environment, the project is also designed to enhance the area as a whole.
As part of a wider neighbourhood development initiative, a pedestrian-friendly walkway with street furniture, lighting and art will be created from ABSA Towers Main all the way to Maboneng. This unique urban intervention prioritizes pedestrians and people of the local community above vehicular traffic.
Between ABSA Tower Main and Maboneng is Jewel City, the former heart of the diamond and precious metals trade in Johannesburg, which spans six city blocks that have been closed off to the public for decades.
Through Diversity, Jewel City will reopen to the public as a vibrant mixed-use precinct with a fully pedestrianized streetscape and a total development value of over R1.2bn once fully completed. The project includes the redevelopment of existing buildings as well as the construction of over 40,000sqm of new buildings in the precinct.
The rejuvenated Jewel City will include an abundance of amenities such as a school, clinic, gym, parking and convenience retail as well as fast food and restaurants. It will also include 20,000sqm of commercial space, 1,200 new residential apartments in phase one and up to 1,000 in phase two. The pedestrian-friendly walkway between Absa Tower Main and Maboneng will past directly through it.
Work on the Jewel City project will begin in November with the first phase of retail, commercial and residential space set to be ready by August 2019.
In the next 18 months alone, with its ABSA Towers Main and Jewel City projects as well as R400m of residential accommodation under development in Maboneng, Diversity will launch more than 75,000sqm of new residential space in Joburg – more than 2,500 apartments in total.
As part of the City’s own initiative, Council approved the release of 71 buildings earmarked for the regeneration of the inner city. The development of these buildings is set to take place through public-private partnerships with developers within the city.
These buildings are expected to deliver at least 4000 units for student accommodation, small business premises and affordable accommodation for some of our poorest residents.
This is part of Diphetogo, real change, this administration has promised residents of this City.
As part of its own initiatives, the City sought to make available for redevelopment, 84 properties of its own properties; almost 5000 temporary jobs will be created during the development of these properties.