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Tenants line up for space in Joburg’s bombed-out CBD

National retailers set to sign leases in mixed-use renewal project.
Jewel City – Atterbury Property's R1.2 billion residential and commercial redevelopment in downtown Joburg. Picture: Supplied

Atterbury Property’s R1.2 billion residential and commercial redevelopment of Jewel City in Johannesburg’s bombed-out central business district is about to sign lease agreements with a national grocery chain and other retailers such as Clicks pharmacy to anchor the project.

Construction across six city blocks began late last year and the first residential tenants are expected to move in by November, Atterbury development manager Derrick Pautz said by phone on March 26.

The construction of 40 000m2 of new buildings and redevelopment of existing structures in Jewel City, which got its name as the closed-off area housing the country’s diamond and precious metals regulators, will include 1 200 apartments in phase one leasing from R3 000 to R6 000 a month, says Pautz. Phase two will add up to 1 000 more apartments.

The plan is to open up the area and upgrade Fox Street to link the R1.2 billion Jewel City with the R380 million Absa Towers main building redevelopment, also being done by Atterbury through a consortium called Divercity Urban Property Fund. The fund’s Fox Street work will be extra to the costs at Jewel City and Absa Towers, says Pautz.

Corporate tenants began to flee Johannesburg’s original CBD for the northern suburbs, primarily Sandton, in the 1990s as criminal gangs overrode parts of it and the homeless occupied derelict buildings. Blocks of the CBD became no-go zones ruled by thugs and drugs. Jewel City, in the eastern CBD, was largely sealed off, but felt the effects of the urban decay.

“It was very much a bombed-out area, it was a total security shutdown and cut off from public access,” says Pautz. “Our aim post redevelopment is to open it up and incorporate it back into the fabric of the city. It will be fully accessible – pedestrian and vehicular access will all be reopened.”

Big brands

The project’s national grocery outlet tenant cannot be named publicly quite yet because of a non-disclosure agreement, but those already signed up include Planet Fitness and Famous Brands, which owns fast food chains Steers, Wimpy and Debonairs Pizza. Famous will likely install a Mugg & Bean restaurant in the development, says Pautz.

Atterbury’s other developments include its 20% in Johannesburg north’s Mall of Africa, the largest first phase shopping centre in southern Africa at 130 000m2.

Atterbury has a 31% share in Divercity, which is running the Jewel City and Absa Towers projects, alongside 27% invested by Ithemba Property, with 19% each held by Rand Merchant Holdings (the bank is also a shareholder in Atterbury) and Nedbank. The privately held Genesis Property holds the remaining 4% in the fund.

Divercity will lease 10 grade A office floors of the Absa Towers main building back to the bank and turn the remaining 20 floors above it into 550 apartments, according to Pautz. The apartments should be completed in a year, he says.

Schools and healthcare

Contractors on Jewel City include Nomad Construction and a WBHO/Matheo joint venture, according to Divercity. It is estimated that the project will create 1 279 temporary jobs and 25 permanent ones. The first 14 000 square meters of commercial space will include a primary and high school as well as medical facilities.

“We’re certainly hoping that this is just the first piece of redevelopment of the CBD that’s been seen in a long time, and we’re encouraging other developers to join us,” says Pautz. “If the CBD can be turned around and uplifted to a safe and secure environment for people to live and work in, and especially for families to move back into, it will do a lot in assisting to alleviate the housing crisis which Joburg currently faces.”

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Brave move – hoping it proves to be a good one for the investors. Surely more permanent jobs will be created than indicated-security, maintenance plus staffing of the retailers coming in.

Good luck with this experiment…. ! the big brands are moving in because this is the only way they can expand their local footprint – most are currently a bit nervous to expand out of SA into the rest of Africa given recent performances and have pretty much saturated other areas. It appears that some rentals ( R3000 pm) are going to be cheaper than the electricity bills in more established neighborhoods…… who will be subsidizing the costs of services in this new development?

I just cringe at the thought of living in a concrete block with 1000 other people.

Then definitely don’t move to Europe 🙂

I agree jblack. It’s even relevant for inner Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, New York, etc. High-rise flats are mostly the only accommodation option in city centres.

I would have no gripe living in a high-rise WHEN other inhabitants RESPECT the law/by-laws, in a country with little to zero crime, and all behave like CIVILIZED human beings, with due consideration for each other.

Exactly, this is also one of the reasons the indigenous people want their land back…and rightly so.

Attention, construction-mafia! Please TAKE NOTE. Here’s an opportunity.

Building a nice place to expropriate…

Joined a Human’s right walk this past Sunday 24th of March. JHB CBD is nasty filthy and smells horrible.
I know Durban CBD is filthy also. What does this say about us South Africans.
I wish we can learn some great lessons from some countries that keep their spaces clean.

This comment deserve 100+ thumbs ups.

1st rule of a clean environment: when no-one litters or dumps, there will not be filth to start with. Local-govt to provide sufficient bins, etc….but it doesn’t help if citizens do not comply.

WHAT IS IT with South Africans? (I’ve even seen people shamefully of my own race do the same…and when you approach the offender, YOU get the &@#$% for having the audacity to point an offense out. Same with driving manners.)

Is it a culture problem? Lack of upbringing? Or don’t most of us not care anymore? And our political (national & town) leadership do not set great examples either.

To see filth on the streets of Mzansi is somehow “comforting”….as it indicates to me that (in case I’m in a dementia-lite frame of mind) I’m not suddenly lost in an unknown foreign country!

Forgive my cynicism re human rights. In Africa? You must be JOKING!!! There is only one lesson to be learned at the moment and that is how to financially and physically emigrate. The revolution is eating its children, or hadn’t you noticed on your human rights march?

Correct! Downtown is absolutely horrible. And its an absolute disaster. Got friends with businesses a few blocks down from this development in Jeppe. It’s a nightmare, crime infested, dirty and no help from City of Joburg.

That is the strangest title. Which tenants line up to be in ‘bombed out’ areas?

i was also.wondering when these bombing raids took place or maybe it’s just an inappropriate use of slang?

I agree, the click-bait title is exaggerated.

I would replace the word “bombed-out” with “transformed”.

I wonder how the new tenants are going to enjoy their little haven amongst the dereliction that is so evident in this lower CBD area are they likely to upgrade streets like Nugget,End Street, Von Wielligh, Twist and my favourite Siemert Road

There will be a long road to travel with this one…
1. Security & Safety
2. Road works & access to SAFE public transport
3. Increased service delivery – electricity, water, sewer
and… and… and…

Good luck, the Ponte did not take off as anticipated. Maybe this will have greater support and vision.

Brave investment indeed.

End of comments.





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