A glimmering inner-city investment

The mega R1.2-billion Jewel City redevelopment in Jozi CBD is taking shape, inviting investment on a massive scale.

Closed to the public for decades, Jewel City spans six city blocks that formerly made up the heart of the diamond and precious metals trade in Joburg. By redeveloping its existing buildings and constructing new buildings of over 40 000m², Divercity Urban Property Fund is converting it into the heart of a thriving, modern inner-city neighbourhood.

An artist’s impression of the vibrant billion-rand Jewel City development. Credit: Atterbury

The revitalised Jewel City will reopen to the public as a vibrant mixed-use precinct and will be amenity-rich with a school, clinic, gym, parking and convenience retail as well as fast food and restaurants. It will also include 20 000m² of commercial space, 1 200 new residential apartments in its first phase and up to 1 000 in its second phase.

A major investment in Joburg, the initiative will have a total development value of over R1.2-billion once complete. The development will also create significant employment in the city; an estimated 1 279 temporary jobs and 1 384 permanent jobs. In addition, it will contribute to the municipal and national tax base. In the next 18 months, Divercity will launch more than 75 000m² of new residential space in Joburg, in Jewel City and its surrounds, with more than 2 200 apartments in total.

Divercity’s major stakeholders, Atterbury Property, Ithemba Property and Talis Property Fund, as well as its cornerstone investors RMH Property and Nedbank Property Partners, attended the first sod ceremony which was turned by mayor of Johannesburg Herman Mashaba; Joburg’s MMC for Development Planning Reuben Masango; and non-executive director of Atterbury Property Fund Phuti Mahanyela.

Mashaba says he is excited about the project, calling it a catalyst for igniting the City of Johannesburg. “We are a city with a housing backlog of 300 000 and 160 000 of our people are looking for accommodation. One in three people in Johannesburg is unemployed and if Johannesburg isn’t working, South Africa has no chance of succeeding… This project is very important, not just for Johannesburg but also for South Africa and Africa as a whole.”

Mahanyela says Divercity is committed to the transformation agenda of South Africa. “It’s so important to see development and redevelopment right here in our cities. It helps to undo apartheid-era spatial divides and move towards more inclusive environments. Divercity invests exclusively in inner-city environments with a focus on affordable homes and delivering this in better-to-reach precincts close to job opportunities and amenities; creating an environment that is wholesome for the people who live and work here.”

Besides creating an inclusive world-class ‘live, work, play’ precinct, the Jewel City project will enhance the area. It will be fully pedestrianised with a people-friendly walkway along Fox Street. Its pedestrian walk links it with two other Divercity projects; to its west, the new Absa Towers Main redevelopment and, to its east, new residential developments in vibey Maboneng.

Mashaba hopes that this development will trigger other investors to identify the City of Johannesburg as one of the biggest real estate opportunities in the world today. “This is an opportunity for us to provide affordable accommodation for our people, to provide student accommodation, and create opportunities to unleash the entrepreneurial potential of our people, and we, as government, have a role to play as a facilitator. We can turn the city around… We can’t build it overnight, but this is a beginning. We are ready to do business…”

With the reconstruction of Jewel City underway, its first tranche of retail, commercial and residential space will be ready by October 2019. Completion of the precinct is set for 2020.