Rejuvenation puts sparkle back into Braamfontein

Posted On Wednesday, 25 June 2003 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Office occupancy rising as major companies and council support urban project


Stan GarrunUrban rejuvenation seems to be paying dividends for Braamfontein, Johannesburg, which looks set for a turnaround in fortunes with office occupancy continuing to rise.

Khotso Matsau, co-owner of commercial property brokerage Lalela Properties, which is mandated to work on most of the office buildings in Braamfontein, says the urban-rejuvenation project is beginning to show results.

"The project is making Braamfontein very attractive," he says. "If you are looking at the office market, which is what keeps the central business district alive, there has been a good turnaround. We have seen most of the A-grade office space absorbed in recent months."

Matsau says Braampark, the Libridge office block, Jorissen Place and the Braamfontein Centre are all 100% occupied. Sappi's R150m project to redevelop its corporate head office and rejuvenate its immediate surroundings also indicates confidence in the area.

The project involves local government, Liberty Life, Gensec, Sappi, the JD Group, Wits University and various landlords. Matsau says the Nelson Mandela Bridge, which is nearing completion, is also contributing to the positive changes.

Stan Garrun, MD of Investment Property Databank SA, agrees with Matsau. "There is quite a sparkle in Braamfontein at the moment," he says.

SA Property Owners' Association vacancy figures for the quarter ending June show vacancies in Braamfontein decreasing.

Garrun says A- and B-grade office vacancies are at 9,7%, compared with 12,9% in the March quarter. "In quarters prior to this, vacancies stood at 12% to 13%. It appears there has been a nice takeup in the last few months."

Garrun says that two years ago Braamfontein was in the doldrums. While the central business district (CBD) generally has been "fairly static" in terms of office vacancies over the past three quarters, these do not "seem to be getting worse". This could mean the CBD is stabilising.

Neil Fraser, executive director of the Central Johannesburg Partnership, says property owners in Braamfontein, such as Liberty Life, say there has been a sharp increase in interest in the area. He is confident the rejuvenation project a partnership between the private sector and government has contributed to the improvement.

"Sappi came out very strongly, and decided to stay in Braamfontein. They are investing a lot of money there. The other corporate owners in the northern parts of Braamfontein like Liberty Life, the JD Group, Sappi, Gensec and ApexHi are all involved. Between them, they are going to spend R12m on upgrading public areas."

The Johannesburg Development Agency is spending another R25m on improving public space just south of the area where corporations are upgrading.

"Bertha Street, which is a continuation of Jan Smuts Avenue, is going through a massive upgrade to connect with the Nelson Mandela Bridge to Newtown."

Fraser says Braamfontein received a big boost with the new Constitution Hill development on its eastern boundary.

The CBD proper is also "doing very well", says Fraser.

Last modified on Monday, 19 May 2014 12:23

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