Joburg CBD’s pink Shakespeare House to be revived


It’s been more than two years since the pink paint vandalism took place in Johannesburg and still nothing has changed.

However, Urban Ocean property developers aim to revive the area.

“Guards arrested the person who caused the vandalism – an American [Yazmany Arboleda] – who wanted to bring awareness to the heritage buildings in Johannesburg,” said Herman Schoeman, chief executive officer of Urban Ocean property developers.

In August 2014, Arboleda splashed pink paint from the balconies of several abandoned and neglected heritage buildings in Johannesburg City – one of which was the Urban Ocean-owned Shakespeare House. Arboleda was arrested.

“The next day he was released on bail and flew back to America. Since it happened nothing has been done because it is very difficult to restore these buildings without end users,” Schoeman continued.

He divulged to City Buzz that to restore the building to its former grandeur it would cost in excess of R50 million – a sum of money not easy to come by without a company buying into the building and, to a further extent, buying into the area.

Read: City’s historic buildings painted bright pink

The building – still a luminous pink – had been neglected long before the vandalism took place.

“We bought the building in that condition with the aim of rebuilding the block. We’re trying to revive the area. We had a problem with vagrants about five years ago, but we’ve sorted that out and sealed the building,” explained Schoeman.

With a number of buildings owned in the CBD, Urban Ocean – like many other companies who see the potential of Joburg – hopes to rejuvenate their buildings and create an area that is inviting, much like Braamfontein or Maboneng and abolish the negative perceptions associated with the city.

The company is currently working on a number of projects including a pop-up arcade at one of their buildings in which they are selling space to fashion designers and artisans.

They have also opened Urban Collective at 77 Commissioner Street, a space designed to facilitate the operations of entrepreneurs by providing work space. In addition, the company has established the City Central Food Hall and Event Space where the residents of the city can go to grab a meal and enjoy the performances of local musicians, thus promoting local businesses.

It might be a few years later, but plans are in place for the block of buildings situated within the Shakespeare House area to be an urban revival to take note of.

Racine Edwardes

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