Private sector invests in the CBD

Seeing the Johannesburg Development Agency's successes, property developers are waking up to the investment opportunities in Joburg's inner city; the companies are reaping profits from refurbished upmarket apartments.

Johannesburg's inner city is undergoing drastic changes with property developers taking cues from the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA), pumping serious money into regeneration efforts.

As a result, property owners have started buying residential and commercial buildings in the inner city. The demand for high-income accommodation is evident in sales in the R800 000 to R2-million bracket since the beginning of 2013.

Recently, a 300m² split-level flat in the historic Barclays Bank headquarters, at 87 Commissioner Street, fetched R3.2-milion.

German academics Karin Reinprecht and David Hancock own four units, purchased in 2005 when the commercial-to-residential trend first took off in the central business district.

This shows a revival in the demand for upmarket accommodation among Johannesburg's residents.

JDA working with the private sector

With JDA and private sector funding devoted to regeneration, Johannesburg's inner city will soon have trendy individuals flock to the space, once known solely for its work appeal.

Urban Ocean, property developers that focus on up-market, cutting-edge property in Johannesburg's financial district, now boasts one of the largest privately owned residential and commercial property portfolios in South Africa.

The company has pioneered reviving the city and aims to reinvent South Africa's cities by promoting an inner city living and working culture.

Urban Ocean's portfolio includes the historic Corner House Building (on the corner of Commissioner and Simmons streets);  National Bank House (80 – 84 Market Street); Standard Bank on Library Gardens; the Commissioner Street Parkade; No.1 Rissik Street; The Franklin; the Gardees Retail Centre; the CNA building; the new Kempsey Building; the St Andrews Building; and Shakespeare House.

The company has also refurbished the art deco building, The Bank. The project was one of the first the developers tackled, having begun operations in Joburg's CBD in 2004 by buying derelict office blocks.

Refurbished buildings include The Bank; The Steydler in the financial district (southwest of the CBD); The Franklin in Newtown; Madison Lofts in Braamfontein; and Main Street Life; Revolution House; Artisan Lofts; Urban Fox; and Rocket Factory in the Maboneng Precinct.

Maboneng Precinct has, over the past three to five years, become a vibrant work and play space for artists, designers and musicians. The Precinct, upgraded by property concern Propertuity, was one of the first rejuvenation projects in the city.

The inner city refurbished buildings mostly comprise one-and two-bedroom loft apartments.