By Lucky Sindane
THE Greater Ellis Park precinct is in the Johannesburg Development Agency's sights for a major upgrade ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
Some R2-billion will be needed for the ambitious precinct project, which will see a multi-developmental upgrade take place.
Plans for precincts focusing on education, sports and manufacturing have been approved by the city council. Also included in the plans are upgrades for Bezuidenhout, Bertrams and Jukskei River Park.
The project falls under the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA), the City agency that oversees the task of renovating the city and surrounding areas. The JDA develops projects that accelerate economic growth in the city.
"The JDA is currently raising funds for the development of the Greater Ellis Park Precinct," says the agency's chief executive officer, Lael Bethlehem.
The Greater Ellis Park precinct is currently home to three international sports complexes: the Johannesburg Stadium; Ellis Park Stadium; and the city's premier Olympic-size swimming pool.
The area covers Doornfontein, Bertrams, Bezuidenhout Valley, Troyeville, Judith's Paarl and Lorentzville.
The educational precinct, located in Doornfontein and bordered by Saratoga Avenue, the railway edge, the Sivewright expressway and Nugget Street, intends to focus on the city's student population. There are currently an estimated 7 500 students in the area.
Several key nodes have been identified:
- The Expressway Galleria. It is a large four-storey commercial development with A-grade retail and office space. This development will become the primary interchange between the sport and education precincts and an intermediate landmark, in tandem with the Ellis Park Beacon, between the stadiums and the University of Johannesburg's campus.
- The Ellis Park Beacon. This will be a waypoint that will demarcate the entrance to the Ellis Park area. It will, according to the plans, define an architectural character in its construction and will be used to display information about the various events in the area.
- Alhambra Heritage Cluster. The Alhambra will be the flagship project of the Greater Ellis Park development initiative. Here, those buildings with significant architectural heritage value will be renovated, with a view to making practical and viable investments while maintaining the buildings' architectural character.
- Beit Street Retail Strip. Regeneration plans include creating a dynamic 24-hour node catering to students and residents. The strip will be turned into a commercial high street housing restaurants and a coffee shop. The University of Johannesburg will also have an entrance on to Beit Street.
It is planned to turn the area around the Ellis Park station into an efficient, world class, safe and well managed inter-modal transport hub.
The identified area is bordered by the railway to north and east, Nugget Street to the west, and Bezuidenhout Street to the south. The City's Better Buildings Programme will identify abandoned or under-used office buildings and convert them into affordable and accessible accommodation.
Expanding on already existing facilities, the sports precinct will include a sports academy, an extreme sports centre and a sports museum.
Located within New Doornfontein, the sports precinct is bordered by Charlton Terrace, Bertrams Road, Miller Street and the railway to the south, and the Sivewright expressway.
The Sports Academy will be a world-class, high performance centre including training facilities, medical services accommodation, indoor sports hall, canteen, students centre, internet café, and associated retail, parking and office.
New facilities will be created for the Extreme Sports Centre, which will also include specialised surfaces and equipment located along the development's main public spaces.
A Sports Resource Centre, a centre catering for high-performance athletes, will also be established. Facilities will allow for specialised testing and research and will have access to international methods and information.
A South African Sports Museum has also been planned. Here a world-class sports museum will be established. There will be information, retail, café and exhibition space, as well as a multi-purpose hall and other supporting facilities to accommodate local and international visitors.
Bezuidenhout mixed-use precinct
Included in the Greater Ellis Park developments are the upgrading of the local neighbourhoods. Bezuidenhout has been identified as a mixed-use precinct. Plans include hotels, offices, retail space and residential developments.
It is located south-east of Miller Street up to Bezuidenhout Avenue, to Bertrams Road and is bounded by the railway line on the south-west. It also includes part of New Doornfontein and Troyeville.
An iconic building on the corner of Bezuidenhout Avenue and Bertrams Road, to be called the Bezuidenhout/Bertrams Gateway, will act as a landmark, signalling the entrance to the area.
Bezuidenhout Square will be developed into a public square with an information centre and there will be a market for informal traders.
Voorhout Street will become the central spine for private developers. Developments for Voorhout Park include a central park, recreational and sporting facilities, public ablutions, lighting, artwork, restaurants, signage, street furniture, gateway elements and paving to accommodate parking during special events.
South Park Square will become a public space where visitors will be able to enter the Ellis Park stadium.
An underpass will link Miller Street to Angle Road, connecting the east and west of Doornfontein, with the development of Railway Square as a new precinct entrance.
Dawe Street will be upgraded to four lanes, which will require sidewalk articulation and pedestrian crossing at Voorhout Street.
Bertrams/Derby Road precinct
Plans also include the Bertrams area. This precinct includes the northern parts of Bertrams, Lorentzville, Judith's Paarl and parts of Bezuidenhout Valley.
Existing buildings will be converted, as part of the Heritage Cluster, making them practically and commercially viable. Derby Road will be turned into a high street, providing retail commercial and entertainment venues.
The Terrace Road Mansions will be converted into high-quality, medium-density low-cost housing.
The Bertrams Community Cluster will also see the development of a new Bezuidenhout/Bertrams Gateway and an expanded Spar shopping node.
The Hope Grows Aids Memorial Garden, a project that aims to provide a growing green monument to honour all those who have suffered and died from the epidemic, will be established. It is planned to create a circular garden in which different flowers will bloom each month.
Plans are also in the pipeline to establish a garden academy to train Aids orphans to become gardeners, providing a source of employment as well as contributing to the historical natural beauty of Troyeville.
An Artists Village will also be established, offering affordable accommodation for artists.
Jukskei River Park precinct
The focus of this precinct is recreation and relaxation.
The precinct extends along the river between Bertrams Road and Second Street and from Victoria Street to Frere Road.
A new library, landscaping, various special features, restaurants, coffee shops and a craft centre are to be developed. Existing recreation facilities will be extended to include a park for children.