By Wandi Ntshalintshali
If the Office Space Optimization (OSO) programme achieves its main objectives, the 4.3 million citizens of the City of Johannesburg will see an improvement in service delivery, this according to Johannesburg Property Company (JPC). The OSO programme, which is run by JPC – the City of Johannesburg’s property and facilities management entity –
is aimed at increasing operational and financial efficiencies of the city and its residents.
The OSO is the brainchild of the City of Johannesburg, which will be developed and implemented within the city’s overall property portfolio. The programme is a 10-year plan, which at its completion will see the construction of mixed-use developments comprising government offices, council offices, private sector offices, retail space, residential, public amenities and public squares in Johannesburg.
“The focus will be on catalyzing other City of Johannesburg initiatives, such as the Corridors of Freedom, while optimizing service delivery by providing a ‘one stop’ service point within reach of communities across all seven regions,” said JPC CEO Helen Botes.
The Metro Centre in Braamfontein has been home to the city’s operations for 40 years. In that period it has never been renovated even though there is more demand for more space and infrastructure to accommodate the growing number of the City of Johannesburg’s staff and councilors who represent their wards has steadily increased. The current office space expansion will save R132 million per year on rental cost that previously the Metro Centre had to pay for leasing privately owned buildings across the city for officials and staff.
According to Botes, the planned Council Chamber will be “very transparent and has been designed with the principles of transparency and good corporate governance in mind”. Over and above the improved service delivery, citizens will benefit from this long-term project that will also create more than 100 000 jobs, empower small, micro and medium enterprises, inject finances into industries such as construction and engineering, and develop skills through training programmes.
The newly planned Metro Centre is an architectural masterpiece shaped like an African drum to sound a call for people to come together. The interior completes the aesthetic in its circular sitting formation to represent a ‘Lekgotla’, an African meeting place.
The R2.5 billion to be invested in rejuvenating the Metro Centre is but just a small figure of the larger plan of bringing and new life to Johannesburg’s central business district (CBD). Just a walk across the Mandela Bridge towards the in the (CBD) one is drawn towards Newtown, which boasts.
The investment, which falls between the Newtown Junction, The City Lodge and the Majestic, is the largest investment in the Johannesburg CBD in recent history, with a value estimate of R1.4 Billion. It is a modern mixed-use development that comprises of retail shops, offices, a hotel and restaurants in three buildings that has transformed the cultural precinct into a modern commercial hub.
“Property development is changing and moving more towards embracing a holistic vision by creating convenient spaces where people can work, stay and play. The Newtown Junction has that and, moreover will revitalise Johannesburg’s history and heritage and connect the past, present and future,” says Botes.
One of JPC’s projects is 27 Boxes, which is a fresh and young concept, inspired by Boxpark in London and the George Pompidou in Paris, that appropriately keeps up with the artistic and hippy spirit of Melville. It is a retail shopping centre built with shipping containers. It combines garden plants and rolling lawns, together with other brick and concrete elements for a richly unique look and feel.
The 27 Boxes center is also innovative in that it aims to deliver alternative retail space geared for the needs of small retail entrepreneurs, artists and food lovers. It has a tenant mix of fashion retailers, an art studio and gallery, bakery and restaurants and offers goods from furniture to home décor, delicacies such as Italian deli and various food retailers. It is situated on the old Faan Smit Park between 3rd and 4th Avenue Melville.
Soweto residents also anticipate the unveiling of a refurbished Jabulani Amphitheatre which is adjacent to the Jabulani Mall, also a JPC project with a price tag of R20 million.
A worthy investment as the Amphitheatre holds great historical value for Soweto. It is where political rallies where held against apartheid and where a 25-year-old Zindzi Mandela, on the 10th February 1985 read a stirring letter from her father Nelson Mandela who was still in prison to a roaring audience who were squashed together in the venue with others watching from above the outside walls to hear the message. The venue will be open again to be used by the public for music concerts, performances and other gatherings.
The JPC is responsible for Johannesburg City’s R 8.6 billion property portfolio.