Johannesburg inner city has undergone extensive regeneration in recent years which has influenced investor confidence

The vision for inner cities is to create environments where people can live, work and play through densification, mixed-use buildings and affordable housing.

In August, last year, the City of Johannesburg launched the prospectus of 71 properties that have been released to the private sector for development, hoping to see cranes operating in the inner city soon; turning it into a massive construction site. Furthermore, the City of Joburg has released another 81 properties for tender, as the second-phase of the Inner City Rejuvenation initiative was announced.

The inner city has undergone extensive regeneration in recent years, which has in effect influenced investor confidence in the inner city.

“It is clear that the private sector shares the City’s vision of turning the inner city into an exclusive space where people can live, work, and play. There are various projects on the table that will see unique developments that speak to a better quality of life for all who venture to the inner city,” said Joburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba at the Inner City Forum hosted by the MMC for Development Planning, in February this year.

TUHF has played a key role in urban development and urban management, with a 16-year track record, and a loan book value of R3,1 billion servicing every major city in South Africa. Thus far, 34 000 units have been financed by TUHF in declining areas, and over 350 entrepreneurs have been assisted, which demonstrates the companies motivation to promote inner city, infill housing and related retail development.

TUHF specializes in lending money to reasonably priced housing projects in areas of urban decline, where commercial banks dare not tread. Generally, preference is given to small-to-medium sized residential buildings that are clean, safe and will offer good returns. Based on the collateral value of the building. TUHF can lend up to 80% of the loan value. The mortgage finance TUHF provides is for the purpose of creating residential units for the affordable housing market. This includes refurbishments of existing buildings, or conversions of existing office blocks into residential use, and new build projects. The loan facility is 15 years, with interest and raising fees at market-related rates.

TUHF’s lending criteria is unique in that, it is character-based, which informs the disbursement process. Individuals applying for a mortgage through TUHF need to have a keen interest in property ownership, have a good understanding of the area they want to invest in, and most importantly have the right characteristics – be honest, reliable, and hard-working, to help entrepreneurs manage their properties.

The lending model has both commercial and development impact purposes. TUHF provides empowerment equity finance to previously disadvantaged individuals, who are emerging inner city property entrepreneurs. Launched in 2007, the Intuthuko Equity Fund has enabled urban land reform. R30 – R50 million a year has been raised through the fund to support property entrepreneurs. uMaStandi is a backyard rental finance arm, which TUHF launched to provide township homeowners access to opportunities in the property market.

Apart from what TUHF does, there are a number of inner-city players who are doing good and make a meaningful contribution to urban development. They are made up of small and large private sector private companies and REITs. Some of these organisations include; Jozi Housing, Take Shape Property Management, Respublica, and Southpoint, who provide decent and affordable accommodation in inner city areas, and have helped turned them around.

As a collective, ordinary South Africans in their role as private developers, are harnessing opportunities in their streets and communities – whether its 5 units to 20 units per individual, which is making a massive difference in improving the case for the inner city.

“Cities have the potential to succeed and develop into real urban places that people can be proud of. When we all contribute in developing our cities, this is called massive-small. People should be at the heart of development. Any obstacles need to be removed for people to be able to thrive,” – says Paul Jackson, CEO at TUHF.

Government’s urban development plans need to address urban sprawl. In order to create efficient cities, there needs to be spatial, social and economic integration. This is unlikely to be achieved through mega projects on urban peripheries, but through many small builds and medium-sized projects that promote urban densification.

The demand for downtown rental housing is guaranteed to be constant in the near future because it comprises a variety of diverse and layered elements. Through pro-active participation in the communities we operate in, particularly in urban areas, in the case of TUHF, we are able to support job creation, skills development and true transformation – changing the complexion of ownership and contributing to economic growth.