To help accelerate the inner city rejuvenation, the City of Johannesburg’s Inner City Partnership (JICP) welcomed Africa Housing Company (Afhco) to help deliver affordable rental housing, starting with the old post office in Jeppe Street.
MMC for Development Planning, Funzela Ngobeni, said he is pleased with the progress private investing brings.
Afhco, he said, has set aside around R450 million to upgrade the old post office into a mixed-use development.
“[The company] saw potential in the building after it fell into disrepair and became under-utilised,” he said.
“We are excited about the public/private partnership collaboration which will make the inner city housing market work better for the poor.”
Ngobeni said both the City and Afhco are committed to ensuring the heritage significance of the building is preserved even as the building undergoes refurbishment to restore it to its former condition.
Tiiso Masipa, the development manager responsible for refurbishing the building, said Afhco has extensive experience with sensitive buildings and he is confident that the project will meet the City’s building regulations and standards.
“We will continue to contribute to the upliftment of the inner city and wider Johannesburg area,” he said.
The layout of the building will be tailored to meet individual clients’ needs accommodating single people as well as small families, creating eclectic spaces and relationship between zones allowing their precinct to flourish, the MMC said.
The rejuvenation is an important project for the current administration. Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba said it was crucial for investors to head back to the inner city. He said he recognised that there needed to be something for them to come back to, implying the City’s crumbling infrastructure.
The shortage of affordable housing, combined with the increase in the number of hijacked buildings, has left Joburg’s inner city in dire straits.Almost 4 000 people now live on the city’s streets and the need for 30 000 living units for the city’s most vulnerable households grows.
Mashaba said public/private partnerships play a key role in making the housing market in the inner city more inclusive. “Working together with social housing institutions and private developers, the City is better able to meet the increasing demand for quality low-income housing,” Mashaba said.
But not everyone agrees with the structure of this solution. In the 29 November council sitting, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said they were concerned that many units will only ever be to let. The party wants more possibilities of full ownership for residents in the inner city.