Johannesburg city centre comes into its own

With a rejuvenation programme well underway and transport nodes such as the recently opened Gautrain Park station close at hand, the residential property sector of the Johannesburg city centre continues to enjoy a strong revival.

This is according to Rupert Finnemore, Pam Golding Properties (PGP) joint area manager, Hyde Park office in Gauteng. He says that the ‘City of Gold’ has residential properties available from the lower end through to the higher end of the market, depending upon where in the city you choose to reside. Whatever the case may be, residential property in Johannesburg can represent excellent value for money, he says.

“The city has put enormous resources into turning the city centre around after there was a flight of capital to the northern suburbs in the 1990s,” observes Finnemore. “With crime levels down and occupancy rates up, the results of this urban renewal effort are highly positive and the area is enjoying a new vibrancy.

“There is greater confidence in the district, which is attracting considerable investment. Many apartment blocks in areas such as Braamfontein and Marshalltown have been, or are in the process of being, revamped. There are good quality residential properties available in the central city at reasonable prices and rental rates, and there is always likely to be a demand for good accommodation.”  

Pam Golding Properties agent Farai Chitokomere says bachelor apartments come onto the market priced from R250 000, but may fetch up to R550 000. Some two-bedroom apartments in Marshalltown sell for as much as R1.7 million while penthouses in the area may fetch up to R3 million. A bachelor flat can be rented from R2 600 to R7 000 per month. In Braamfontein a 25sqm apartment is rented at around R3 500, while there are some larger 30 – 35sqm bachelor apartments in Marshalltown, which are available to rent from R3 000 to R3 500 per month.  

“Johannesburg and its suburbs cover a huge area and little is more important to residents of the city than being able to get to their places of work and entertainment easily,” observes Chitokomere. “Easy access to transport is therefore an important factor when it comes to choosing a place to live. With its newly opened Gautrain Park Station, the Metrobus depot at Ghandi Square and the MTN Taxi Rank, Johannesburg city centre is on all the important commuter routes and remains very central. It is also relatively close to residential areas such as Soweto and business areas like Sandton,” he adds.

With the high cost of fuel and transportation many people prefer to live close to their place of work. In some areas of the city centre the upper levels of office blocks have been converted into accommodation. This has allowed office space that has been lying vacant to be occupied. Many residents of these apartments live and work in the same buildings, residing on the upper floors while working in offices below or at shops and businesses at street level.    

Marshalltown, with its large concentration of banks and the headquarters of Anglo American, is a popular, fairly upmarket residential area with many executives purchasing or renting apartments there in order to be situated close to work. Properties in Marshalltown are in demand both by individuals seeking accommodation as owner-occupiers and investors acquiring apartments in order to achieve rental income. In either case, well appointed properties in the area represent a solid investment, according to Pam Golding Properties agent Brian Goso.

Marshalltown, like other areas of the city centre, has greatly benefited from the urban renewal efforts of recent years. Roads are being resurfaced, pavements repaired, parks have been developed, streets are kept clean and ’greening’ of the area has occurred with the planting of a number of trees. Some fine sculptures and artworks have been commissioned and now dot the city, making it more attractive to those who live and work here. A number of eateries and markets catering to white-collar clientele have been developed in the district and residents are truly able to live, work and play right on their own doorsteps.

“With guard houses on most corners of Marshalltown, the area benefits from highly visible security and is one of the safer parts of Johannesburg in which to stay,” suggests Goso. “Many streets in the city centre are kept under surveillance by security cameras, an initiative that has certainly helped to keep crime levels down.”

Braamfontein has also enjoyed a residential property boom in recent years, points out Goso.  “There are a number of students studying at the University of the Witwatersrand living in Braamfontein,” he notes. “As a result, properties close to the University are particularly in demand. What also adds to the appeal of the area is that it is close to other amenities such as hospitals and schools. The Donald Gordon Medical Centre and Netcare Park Lane hospitals are nearby for those who require medical attention, while a number of schools are to be found in the area, including the National School for the Arts, Banton High School, The Star High School and Rand Meisieskool.”

“The buy-to-rent market is consequently very strong here with many investors taking advantage of the strong demand for accommodation,” continues Goso. “Large numbers of apartment blocks have been or are in the process of being refurbished, while shopping centres and fast-food outlets are doing brisk business.”

Goso says that Pam Golding Properties is now also receiving numerous enquires for accommodation conveniently situated close to the new Park Station: “We had one apartment available near this facility that was purchased on the very same day it went on sale.”

According to Lightstone, a research company that provides property data to the South African market, nearly 45 percent of recent buyers in Braamfontein are under the age of 35, which suggests that many up-and-coming young professionals and entrepreneurs are purchasing properties in the district.

“The Johannesburg city centre has come into its own once more in recent years,” points out Rupert Finnemore. “It is cosmopolitan and vibrant, and is the subject of a great deal of development. The area has had its ups and downs but is now enjoying a genuine renewal. For those who want to be close to where the action is, the city centre is the place to be.”

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