R2 billion will be poured into the City of Johannesburg’s inner city through the Divercity Urban Property Fund, much to the delight of Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba.
This investment, he said, is the largest in the Johannesburg CBD for some years, and will be focused on the redevelopment of the iconic Absa Towers Main building and Jewel City.
“Newly launched Divercity is an investment fund backed by the experience of some of South Africa’s leading property investors and developers,” the mayor said.
“It is set to renew and re-energise the country’s urban centres with its unique focus on inner-city precinct development that 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.”
He added that, for the City, the investment is an indication of investor’s renewed confidence in the potential held within the inner city.
Since coming into government, the mayor has maintained that the revitalising of the inner city is the key component in creating jobs within the Johannesburg local economy and through strategic public-private partnerships, also creating affordable quality housing for residents.
Following a 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, the mayor said, will lease back nine floors. According to Mashaba, once completed, the development will be valued at over R400 million.
The project is expected to start early next year, 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.
“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,” Mashaba said.
Jewel City, the former heart of the diamond and precious metals trade in Joburg spanning six blocks between the tower and Maboneng, will also reopen to the public as a vibrant mixed-use precinct with a fully pedestrianised streetscape.
“The project includes the redevelopment of existing buildings as well as the construction of over 40,000sqm of new buildings in the precinct.”
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 next year.
The mayor also said that the City is sensitive to the fact that skills development, employment and SMME development must happen alongside plans to transform the inner city.
“We believe that through the redevelopment of our 84 properties, almost 5 000 temporary jobs will be created during the construction phase.”