The first new office park development to be built in the central Johannesburg node of Parktown, bordering Braamfontein, in over 10 years could not be more strategically located.

hillonempire2 300Rea Vaya’s Parktown station is almost on Hill on Empire’s doorstep. (Image: CLICK IMAGE FOR LARGER VERSIONThe 35 000m² A-grade office park Hill on Empire is being developed by Abland on the corner of Empire and Hillside roads – at almost exactly the point where two of the City of Joburg’s new Corridors of Freedom join.

In the immediate neighbourhood of the R700-million development is one of the Johannesburg Development Agency’s (JDA’s) earliest flagship projects, Constitution Hill, as well as one of its most recent: the Rea Vaya bus rapid transit (BRT) network.

And less than a kilometre to the east lies Hillbrow. Not very long ago, this kind of proximity to Joburg’s most densely populated inner city suburb would have been enough to frighten investors away. Today, Hillbrow is the site of a JDA-led regeneration programme that has begun to turn the area into a liveable, sustainable, economically viable part of a revitalised inner city.

It is at the corner of Empire Road and Clarendon Place, on Hillbrow’s western border, that the Louis Botha Avenue Corridor of Freedom – connecting central Joburg with Alexandra, Sandton and suburbs further north – begins.

Traffic on Clarendon is currently restricted to one lane in each direction to allow for construction of the first of 10 new BRT stations, and the southernmost stretch of 16 kilometres of dedicated BRT lanes, being built by JDA-contracted companies for the Rea Vaya phase 1c expansion which will form the backbone of the Louis Botha Corridor.

Rea Vaya buses bringing commuters in from Alexandra and other north-eastern suburbs to central Joburg will come up Clarendon, turn right into Empire – and in less than a minute will be at the Parktown Rea Vaya station situated almost at the entrance of the new Hill on Empire office park.

Commuters coming from Soweto and other suburbs to the south-west, meanwhile, will be arriving from the other direction at the same Rea Vaya station, which lies at the eastern end of the Empire-Perth Corridor between central Johannesburg and Soweto.

As Roy Cokayne recently wrote in Business Report: “Johannesburg’s new transport corridors now place Hill on Empire at the crossroads of many transport systems, giving it exceptional accessibility.

“The site is connected with the BRT Rea Vaya bus stop a mere 50 metres away from Hill on Empire, while the closest Gautrain bus stop is 100 metres away, and Empire Road is a main route for Metrobus and minibus taxis.”

Abland development manager Donald Majola told Business Report that Hill on Empire would be on a par with offices normally associated with areas like Sandton and Rosebank, “but will come at a more affordable cost of occupancy, and with exceptional ease of access for people who use both private and public transport”.

The office park will comprise four buildings ranging between 6 000m² and 10 000m², with excellent views of Joburg’s skyline and supported by a wide range of amenities.

Majola told Business Report that Hill on Empire had been designed to complement the rich heritage and architectural style of the area, and would come with additional features aimed at enhancing mobility and the beauty of the local environment.

“By enhancing our surroundings and making our development work for the node, everyone wins. We want to be a good neighbour. We’ve invested in a great node with strong heritage, and we are creating a property asset not only for its owners but also for the people who use it and its community,” he said.

The first Hill on Empire building is expected to begin letting from June 2016. Rea Vaya’s phase 1c services between central Joburg, Alexandra and Sandton are scheduled to begin operating in the first half of 2017.