Maboneng returns residents to Johannesburg city centre

The development of the Maboneng Precinct, an ambitious private property development in the Johannesburg city centre that it is expected to be home to about 3 000 people within the next five years, is gaining momentum.

The project, the brainchild of the developer, Propertuity, will provide a mixed-use lifestyle offering similar to Melrose Arch in the northern suburbs.

Jonathan Liebmann, the founder and chief executive of Propertuity, said Maboneng had involved the creative use of vacant industrial buildings to establish a mixed-use precinct consisting of residential, retail and office space.

A total of 40 buildings were expected to be transferred to the project by the end of the year.

Of the 32 buildings already transferred, not all had yet been earmarked as office, retail or residential space, he said.

About 700 owners or tenants resided in three residential buildings - called Main Street Life, Revolution House and Arts on Main. A fourth building, Artisan Lofts, was under construction.

Liebmann said it was envisaged that the precinct would be home to about 3 000 people within the next five years, with five new developments already launched this year.

These developments would be largely residential but would all have a retail component on the ground floor, adding to the lifestyle spaces that already gave the neighbourhood its dynamic flavour.

Liebmann said 60 percent of the properties that were available had already been sold, with many of them purchased off-plan.

The concept for Maboneng was born when Liebmann sought to encourage the city's artistic and entrepreneurial spirit. He purchased the DF Corlett construction offices and warehouses to create Arts on Main, a centre of artist studios, galleries, retail outlets, office spaces and restaurants.

During the construction process, Liebmann arrived at a much broader vision for the area, seeing not just a creative and entrepreneurial centre but an entire community of enlightened individuals.

Liebmann stressed that Propertuity refurbished existing buildings rather than built new ones. "This is largely because we want to keep the character of both the area and each individual building that makes up the area.

The project is encouraging impressive economic growth and social cohesion in the area.

"It also makes financial sense for us to work with an existing structure rather than start anew. This allows us to offer competitively priced property to our buyers.

"Each development is unique and inspired by its original architectural language. The idea is to construct a neighbourhood identity and create a strong community while at the same time ultimately totally reenergising this part of Johannesburg," he said.

The retail and office spaces in the Maboneng Precinct are mushrooming. Liebmann said there were about 100 commercial interests in Maboneng at present, but this was expected to rise to 1 000 within a few years.

Propertuity was ambitious in its development plans and was already looking north towards Ellis Park for further expansion opportunities over the next five to 10 years.

Liebmann said that plans to expand the University of Johannesburg's campus were likely to be a boon to development in the area.

Propertuity and Pam Golding Properties (PGP) recently announced that they had entered into a strategic partnership in terms of which PGP would market residential accommodation in Maboneng and provide strategic guidance and advice.

Andrew Golding, the chief executive of PGP, said the Maboneng Precinct was the most sustainable and ambitious private development initiative taking place in the Johannesburg city centre at present.

"The project is encouraging impressive economic growth and social cohesion in the area.

"It is also growing at a phenomenal rate," he said.

While the precinct of 32 buildings occupied a square kilometre on the eastern fringe of the inner city, "the developers have enormous vision and are constantly looking for opportunities for further development beyond the current boundaries of the project".

Golding said PGP had for some time been interested in the rejuvenation of the inner city, which was a key development node in which the group planned to become increasingly involved.

Liebmann said there had been increased appetite from investors for low-risk inner city property in recent years.

"The available apartments range in price from between R390 000 and approximately R2 million for a luxury penthouse," he said.

Jonathan Davies, PGP Hyde Park joint area manager, said those who lived in Maboneng appreciated its centrality, with its location close to the central business district and the banking district.

"It is also not far from the new Gautrain Park Station, and residents are able to take advantage of the Rea Vaya bus rapid transit system, which provides a fast, safe and affordable bus service in the city," he said.

"In addition, the precinct's Mabogo Shuttle provides transport between Gautrain Park Station and the Maboneng Precinct daily."

(Business Report)

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