Analysis

Johannesburg’s inner city renewal gains momentum

New high-end lifestyle market opened in downtown Johannesburg last week, promising to emulate London and New York’s week-long markets by offering fresh produce, specialised food and beverages, and boutique clothing products.

Sheds@1Fox, located on Fox Street, plans to open from Thursday to Sunday, unlike its rivals the Neighbourgoods market and Market on Main. The newest market is yet another innovation in the resurgence of the inner city which began with developments such as Nelson Mandela Bridge.

More recently the Newtown Junction shopping and office complex, situated next to the M1 motorway at the Market Theatre, was launched. At 85,000m², the junction is the biggest multi-use development built in Johannesburg’s central business district since the Carlton Centre opened in the 1970s.

Its founders are Gerald Garner, who runs a city tours business and Jan Rode, who owns the Happy.Me gourmet beverages firm.

The market is made up of pop-up bars, restaurants and stalls but the aim is to house permanent stores in the near future.

It is billed as the first popular lifestyle market to be open for four days a week, Thursday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Next year, it plans to become a permanent market that runs from Thursday to Sunday and would include shops that produce and sell goods on site.

Until then, it will house shops selling produce, specialised ingredients for cooking, clothes and craft liquors. It will also host live music and other culture events.

These events would often run at night and there are plans to extend the trading hours on Fridays and during the festive season if the demand is there.

Garner and Rode have targeted the growing number of people working at banks and mining houses in town.

Through their company, they rent the two warehouses that hold the market from the Johannesburg Land Company, a private family business. In turn, their company rents out space to traders.

“The Johannesburg Land Company owns quite a bit of property in the city. A year or so ago I saw that they owned various warehouses which were the oldest in the city but were not being used.

“We decided to use the space to create a market which met the demand for alternative but quality lifestyle products,” Garner said.

Albonico Sack Metacity Architects partner Monica Albonico said the city would welcome innovations such as outdoor markets.

“There are many projects on the go in the inner city and nearby areas which will work together to attract people to live and work there. This market is one of them.”

Garner said: “We are targeting corporates and families like Portobello Market in London does, while they seem to attract the youth more. This does not mean we don’t have similar tenants such as craft breweries.”

Among those who have taken up space is Caroline Hillary, co-owner of new clothing label International Department Of Squares.

This article was first published by BDLive.

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