The inner city is a-changing

 

The City's ED of housing Walter Melato opens End Street MallThe City's ED of housing Walter Melato opens End Street Mall

THE conversion of an abandoned commercial building on End Street in Doornfontein into a retail and residential hub is another step in changing the face of the inner city.

Called End Street Mall, the building was officially opened on Friday, 4 November. The conversion cost more than R200-million, and is a partnership between the Affordable Housing Company (Afhco) Group and Amdec property developers, the company behind Melrose Arch and many other projects.

Speaking at the opening, Afhco's chief operating officer, Renney Plit, said the residential component fell within the affordable housing segment, which targeted residents earning between R3 500 and R10 000 per month.

At about 7 000m2 in size, the building's shopping centre – which is below the flats – is the biggest to be developed in the inner city since Carlton Centre. Anchored by Shoprite Checkers, other stores in the mall include a beauty salon, a home industries shop, a linen shop and a dry cleaners. There is still some space to be taken up.

About 26 floors of the building, at 120 End Street, were converted into 924 apartments. Already, about 1 500 people live in the flats, and there is still more space available.

Access

End Street Mall is located within five minutes of the Ellis Park precinct, the University of Johannesburg City Campus, Doornfontein Metrorail railway station and Mooi Street Rea Vaya Station. Plit added that the company was now planning to convert other buildings along neighbouring Davies and Rockey streets into residential apartments.

Dance and song heralds the opening of the mallDance and song heralds the opening of the mall

"It will be a new residential node for the inner city," said Plit. A city improvement district that would provide public safety services and maintenance of public spaces in the area was being established, he added.

Shoprite's regional manager, Mark Albert, thanked the companies for developing the building. "Your endeavour to uplift the inner city is vital for future development," he said, adding that Shoprite had employed 350 people in the new store.

Shoprite is an anchor tenant in the shopping mall, taking about 2 600m2 of space.

The City's executive director of housing, Walter Melato, agreed with Albert's sentiments, and thanked Afhco and Amdec for bringing change to the inner city. "We will continue to make sure that we facilitate such developments in the inner city."

Banks

James Wilson, the chief executive officer of Amdec Property Development, said banks were still reluctant to invest in projects in the inner city. "We need to make banks realise that poverty can be reduced by investing in the inner city."

He added that the government had a major role to play in pressuring the five big banks to invest in the inner city. "We need the national housing minister to work with the five banks to invest in the inner city."

120 End Street tenants will literally shop on their doorstep120 End Street tenants will literally shop on their doorstep

There was a dire need for quality affordable housing and dignified living spaces. "The population is growing, cities are expanding and the demand for accommodation is growing every year," said Wilson.

Work on End Street Mall was finished in 2008, and occupancy rates are at 80 percent, with about 1 500 tenants living in the building. It is fitted with the latest technology, including internet access in every flat, private telephones, DSTV aerials and biometric access points that only allow tenants who have been fingerprinted to live in the building.

This is for security reasons as well as to ensure that there is no overcrowding. Procedures have been put in place to control visitors and to ensure security staff is aware of who is in the building at any time.

A home

The area is more than housing – simply a block of flats and a shopping centre. It is a sustainable, quality community, with entertainment and education facilities for tenants' children. End Street Public Park, opposite the mall, has play equipment for children, two five-a-side soccer fields and ablution facilities.

The park underwent a R6-million upgrade by the Johannesburg Development Agency and is managed by the End Street developers, under contract to City Parks. Before the conversion of the building, the park was a haven for drug dealers and vagrants.

Also in 2008, the City Kidz pre- and primary school was opened in nearby Mooi Street. The school provides education for inner city children, with an enrolment of about 300 pupils at present. Tenants are given priority in enrolling in the school.

Source: Joburg.org.za