A group of local property developers got a close-up look at various projects and parcels of land that have been pegged for transit-oriented development in Jabulani, Soweto on Friday, 23 October.

‘Complete street’ upgrade work under way in Jabulani’Complete street’ upgrade work under way in Jabulani.The Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) has a number of projects either forthcoming, under way or recently completed in Jabulani, where over R150-million has been spent on development work to date.

Common to all of these projects are the principles of transit-oriented development (TOD), which aims to encourage liveability, accessibility and interaction between the City’s residents and the movement corridors that connect them.

At the same time, the TOD-inspired infrastructure and public environment upgrades overseen by the JDA seek to create conducive business environments by clustering industry-specific functions and services at strategic nodes along these movement corridors.

Friday’s trip to Jabulani – and similar developments in Nancefield and Kliptown – was the latest in a series of tours organised by the JDA to encourage the private sector to take advantage of the new investment opportunities that are opening up as the City’s TOD drive gains pace.

The area neighbouring the Soweto Theatre is ripe for investmentWith all the basic infrastructure in place, and public environment upgrades ongoing, the area neighbouring the Soweto Theatre is ripe for investment.Led by Alice Moloto, the JDA’s manager of internal communications and special projects, the group of property developers first visited a piece of land opposite the Soweto Theatre – a bare, dusty stretch used only by occasional taxis and a few informal traders.

Nthangeni Mulovhedzi, the development manager responsible for the JDA’s projects in Jabulani, told the group that there were plans to develop this land over the next three years.

“The city has identified this precinct as the main business hub,” Mulovhedzi said. “On the cards are a shopping centre, water tower facility, residential apartments and a taxi rank.”

The node will incorporate 25 000 square metres of retail space, 10 000 square metres of office space and 4 000 mixed-income residential units, of which one-third will be for low-income earners.

Associated public environment upgrades will include the construction of dedicated cycle lanes, walkways and sidewalks.

Mulovhedzi said a number of public-private partnerships were already involved with developing residential properties in the area.

“[World football governing body] Fifa has also stepped in to assist in the development of the new sports and recreation facility behind Jabulani Mall,” he added.

Residential apartments on the corner of Koma and Bolani roadsResidential apartments on the corner of Koma and Bolani roads in Jabulani.From the Soweto Theatre, the tour group was taken to view the trendy residential apartments on the corner of Koma and Bolani roads. Earlier this year, the JDA completed construction of a new road linking Koma and Bolani roads, including a “complete street” redesign aimed at easing pedestrian and public transport access in the area.

The ability to attract business occupiers is a key element of a successful TOD project, hence the critical need for linkages to public transport, Mulovedzi said.

The delegation then visited another piece of land opposite Inhlanzane train station, where local construction company Inkanyeli is planning a new mixed-use property development.

Speaking after the tour, Solomon Ramalamula from Take Shape Properties said he was impressed by the JDA’s work in Jabulani.

“It was hard for me to believe that we were in Soweto, I felt like I was in Sandton,” he said, adding that his next move would be to contact the Johannesburg Property Company to get further details on available land parcels in Soweto.

Themba Xakaza from Turning Point Properties said the developments provided opportunities for black entrepreneurs to break into the industry. “I think the development projects in Jabulani widen the opportunities for emerging companies to tap into areas that are not developed, and provide an opportunity to build up companies,” Xakaza said.