Restoring Newtown to its former glory

Private Property South Africa
Private Property Reporter

Over the past few years a project to revive and refurbish Johannesburg’s inner city, driven by the City of Johannesburg, came to life. Newtown, one of Johannesburg inner city’s cultural precincts and home to theatres, galleries and jazz clubs, form an integral part of this project. Newtown is often called the creative capital of Johannesburg because of its rich cultural offering and night life. The deterioration of Johannesburg’s inner city transpired over a number of years. While some businesses gradually moved from Johannesburg’s inner city to Sandton, Cape Town or other areas during the 1980’s, parking limitations were also set up and taxis were increasingly used with no accompanying developments to the road network. Administration and maintenance policies during the 1990’s were also problematic. As a result of these factors the inner city gradually started to deteriorate. In 2001 the Johannesburg Development Agency was set up for the specific purpose to implement capital projects in declining areas of Johannesburg which included Newtown and other areas like the Fashion District, the Jewellery District, Hillbrow, Berea and Yeoville. In 2007 and 2008 the total value of investment in Newtown was R932 million and R399 million respectively. The Kippie Moeketsi Sculpture, the Kippies Building as well as the Worker’s Library and Museum in Newtown have already been restored to its former glory. Other buildings that received attention include the dance factory, the Bus Factory and the Market Theatre laboratory. The idea behind the redevelopment of Newtown was not just to upgrade existing buildings but to create space and ensure that the improvements are completed in a sustainable way. The parties involved in the project include Blue IQ, the Johannesburg Development Agency, departments of the City of Johannesburg, the Johannesburg Housing Company and private institutions. While the economic downturn meant that the Johannesburg Development Agency had to streamline its budgets and projects had to be prioritised, the redevelopment of the inner city is still ongoing.

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