15 years of redeveloping Joburg - JDA to up game further still

Walter Sisulu Square revamp to spark new growth in KliptownThe Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication in Kliptown, site of the adoption of the Freedom Charter on 26 June 1955 and one of Soweto's major tourist attractions, underwent a multi-million rand upgrade ahead of the 60th anniversary of the Charter. (CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VERSION)

The JDA marks its 15th birthday on Friday, 1 April 2016, but the partying will be kept to a minimum as the agency looks to raise its game still further at a crucial point in the City's redevelopment trajectory.

The Empire-Perth Rea Vaya Corridor of FreedomAerial photo showing a section of the dedicated bus rapid transit (BRT) lanes and stations that anchor the Empire-Perth Rea Vaya Corridor of Freedom from Soweto to the Johannesburg CBD. Overseeing the development of the Rea Vaya network is a flagship JDA project. (CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VERSION)If Year 15 was one the Johannesburg Development Agency's (JDA's) most productive yet - take a quick glance at our 2015 milestones - Year 16 promises to be busier still as the City starts accelerating developments along its three emerging Corridors of Freedom.

Corridors programme enters 'acceleration phase'

Finance MMC Geoffrey Makhubo, delivering his 2015/16 Budget speech, clearly signalled Joburg's commitment to the Corridors of Freedom programme, allocating over one-third of the City's three-year capital budget to the departments and agencies responsible for implementing the programme.

This included a one-year operating budget of R99-million and a three-year capital budget of R829-million for the JDA, one of the programme's lead implementing agencies.

"The JDA plays a development facilitation role on behalf of various city departments and will implement projects including inner city renewal, Rea Vaya roll-out and other developments in priority implementation zones," Makhubo said.

The MMC emphasized the importance of the coming three years, saying the City had "reached an important stage in the development of post-apartheid Johannesburg, where concerted efforts of planning, stakeholder mobilisation and resourcing have culminated in an implementation phase."

Johannesburg Development Agency: Year 15 milestones

Here's a quick glance back at just 12 of the agency's milestones over the last year - one for each month:

APRIL: Construction begins on a R25-million healthcare centre in Westbury, a key development node along the Empire-Perth Corridor, the first of the City's emerging Corridors of Freedom - read more

MAY: Work begins on the R12.8-million first phase of the Rotunda Park Precinct in Turffontein, south-east of Johannesburg. The City will spend more than R150-million over the next four years on developing the precinct, which will form a key part of the City's Turffontein Corridor of Freedom - read more

JUNE: The City and the Province are set to invest a further R677-million in developing the historic suburb of Kliptown, Mayor Parks Tau says as he unveils the revamped Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication ahead of the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter - read more, VIEW GALLERY

JULY: The Gauteng Government Precinct project, which will see the construction of a new precinct to house the offices of the Gauteng Provincial Government in Joburg's CBD, is launched. The R5-billion project will give Joburg's inner city regeneration drive a massive boost over the next three to five years - read more

AUGUST: City officials, investors, community members, planners and students of urban regeneration and the built form interact at the JDA's What's the Plan (Inner City) exhibition in Maboneng. The exhibition provided a platform for reflection and engagement as it charted the evolution of approaches to regeneration and spatial planning in the inner city from 2000 to 2015 - read more, VIEW GALLERY

SEPTEMBER: The soon to be completed Alexandra Heritage Centre is poised to become a significant tourism destination in its own right, while catalysing the development of untapped tourism potential in Johannesburg's oldest township - read more

OCTOBER: The City's Corridors of Freedom initiative will reshape Johannesburg for eco-mobility, Transport MMC Christine Walters told delegates at the EcoMobility Dialogues, part of the 2015 EcoMobility World Festival in Sandton - read more

NOVEMBER: As the physical process of rolling out the backbone infrastructure for Joburg's first three Corridors of Freedom gathers pace, the City has embarked on a parallel process on the emotional, imaginative level: that of naming the Corridors - read more

SEE ALSO:

DECEMBER: The Bus Factory, the JDA's headquarters in the heart of a resurgent inner city Johannesburg, was treated to a special visit by His Royal Highness Prince Harry on Thursday, 3 December - read more, VIEW GALLERY

JANUARY: The massive infrastructure build for the Phase 1C extension of the Rea Vaya bus rapid transit (BRT) network steps up a gear as the new year gets under way, with construction teams hard at work along the new 16km trunk route between the CBD, Alexandra and Sandton - read more

FEBRUARY: The JDA records its most impressive performance yet in the latest financial year, doubling its capital expenditure while receiving a clean financial bill of health from the Auditor-General - read more

MARCH: The process to kick-start the redevelopment of Alexandra gets under way on Wednesday, 23 March as the JDA launches the project to finalise the guiding document for this priority redevelopment, the Alexandra Urban Development Framework - read more

Quick background history of the JDA

The Johannesburg Development Agency was established in 2001 with the initial objective of promoting area regeneration and growth through the development of efficient business environments. Its initial focus was on inner city Joburg, but its mandate was soon broadened to encompass areas ranging from Soweto and Orange Farm in the south to Diepsloot in the north.

The JDA has been involved in well over 50 major urban developments and hundreds of smaller ones over the past 15 years, extending across all regions and all aspects of city life - from the provision of buildings and transport infrastructure to the rejuvenation of parks and public spaces with new paving, lighting, outdoor furniture and artworks.

Johannesburg has been transformed by art by some of the country's most eminent artists - The Fire Walker by William Kentridge and the Eland by Clive van den Berg are just two of a growing collection of artworks that have given the city a more human face.

The agency's projects include the iconic Nelson Mandela Bridge, the award-winning Constitutional Court buildings, the Newtown cultural precinct, taxi ranks across the city, and the revolutionary Rea Vaya bus rapid transit system, which has effectively connected south-west Joburg to the CBD and is currently expanding north-east to Alexandra, Sandton and further suburbs stretching all the way to Diepsloot.

These developments have not only fundamentally altered the lives of the city's residents, they have also encouraged private investors to inject new money into the inner city, transforming formerly derelict buildings and districts into places such as Maboneng, where people now live and work in comfort and security.

The vision is a far-reaching one. The JDA has become crucial to the success of the City of Joburg's Growth and Development Strategy 2040, which seeks to create a resilient, liveable, sustainable urban environment that is underpinned by infrastructure supportive of a low-carbon economy.

As former chief executive Lael Bethlehem said: "The JDA is about saying, what's the big picture in the city, what does the city need, what interventions can we make that the city is going to benefit from for 10, 20, 30 years."