The City of Johannesburg has identified and is preparing 84 buildings in and around the inner city of Johannesburg for development by private-sector companies into housing for 300 000 people in the city who do not have housing.
City of Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba emphasises that the city needed this type of partnership with the private sector to provide affordable housing because the city cannot solve the problem by itself.
He stresses that the city’s work to reduce lawlessness and improve the inner city has supported its project to identify, expropriate where necessary, and redevelop or repurpose buildings to provide safe and affordable housing.
A newly formed forensics unit has a team that focuses on combating property hijackings, he adds.
City property management agency Johannesburg Property Company (JPC) CEO Helen Botes highlights that the city will have a further 86 buildings that it will release by March, if the JPC is granted approval by the city council. These buildings are mainly in the Orange Grove areas.
The city will release more than 100 buildings over the next three years and is also looking at creating similar housing development opportunities in the areas of Roodepoort and Randburg and along Louis Botha avenue, confirms Mashaba.
The city will be responsible for providing the bulk infrastructure connections for the buildings, but imposes certain criteria on bidders for the buildings, including technical competence and capacity, black ownership and empowerment, that they densify the city and create jobs and provide for the training of artisans during construction.
This is done to ensure that the city has the necessary artisans in the next ten to fifteen years to maintain the buildings. Bidders could also consider buying the buildings or securing them on long-term leases, according to their needs, he explains.
“The city cannot build sufficient houses to overcome the challenge of providing affordable housing for the people who work and live in it. “We need to approach the private sector as partners to secure ideas for the development and use of these buildings to provide affordable housing. We can create the opportunities by proposing these buildings.”
Additionally, Mashaba highlights the need to develop student accommodation precincts and safe, affordable student accommodation for the 80 000 students in the city.
The demand for housing and student accommodation is high, he adds.
A prospectus of the 84 buildings is available on the city's and the JPC’s websites.
Mashaba adds that the city has to deal with the housing issue as a priority and small businesses aiming to invest in buildings are better served forming joint ventures with other companies. The city has to give priority to those offers that are ready to proceed, he adds.
Further, he says that the city is relying on the private sector to come up with ideas, such as energy management or renewable energy systems, as part of their proposals and factored into their financial calculations.
However, Mashaba maintains that the city aims to support the creation of as many housing units as possible to densify the city and that bulk infrastructure would be necessary to power these buildings.
“We must focus on creating an enabling environment for the private sector. We have, thus, capacitated the teams dealing with regulatory approvals and hired additional people into the planning department to fast-track the processes.”
The city has identified close to 500 buildings in the inner city that it wants to turn around over the long term. It has also ensured that inner-city projects are given preference in the planning and approval processes.