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Reclaiming The City – Urban Renewal Is On The Rise

What New Braamfontein Lofts is doing for regeneration and the impact it will have on a macro level.

Rubble Beginnings: The Art of Regeneration

The developers of New Braamfontein Lofts are firm believers that urban renewal doesn’t happen in silos. It’s their aim, together with neighbours The Exchange & Sontonga Lofts, to collectively add value and ultimately impact the suburb in a positive way. By setting the good example and initiating change, this creates momentum and instils confidence in potential investors and future developers to do the same.

Horizon Views From New Braamfontein Lofts - 2018

The Rise Of A New Day - Greenbelt Regeneration

About the neighbourhood

Fietas is one of the oldest urban settlements in Johannesburg, dating back more than 120 years. This area was made up of two suburbs, Vrededorp & Pageview. It was a thriving neighbourhood rich in culture & diversity, nestled between Braamfontein and Brixton, and was home to the city’s working class from the buoyant textiles and dress fitting industry, hence its colloquially name Fietas, referencing “outfitters”. In 1977 under the Group Areas Act, forced removals took place and homes were bulldozed to the ground. Through the course of time many vacant plots were left awaiting land claims leaving the area vulnerable to vagrants and crime, as a result investment from the private sector & small businesses started to recoil. In spite of this devastating past, community initiatives such as the Fietas Museum are dedicated to protecting the history and architectural heritage. This would not have been possible without Selma Patel a matriarch of the neighbourhood who currently plays a vital role in guiding and encouraging community involvement.

Old Pageview 1970

Old Johannesburg Small Business - Fietas

Fietas Museum

Fietas Commemorative Stone - Photo Heritage Portal

Surtees Kays Fashion Building - Pagview Heritage Site

23rd Street Mosque, Fietas - Photo Saaleha Bamjee

The plan

The greater area (from the Smit St railway lines to Wits in the north and between the M1 and Fietas) has been set aside as a voluntary City Improvement District and the plans to uplift it are very exciting. In a joint effort between developers Danaug Investments, the community, private and government sectors, a consultant has been called upon to work on implementing change.

A few of these changes (both planned, underway and completed) include: the repair of street pavements, improvement of street lighting, instilling upgrades in and around the Braamfontein Metro Station, the implementation of green spaces and recreational facilities and the establishment of a Residents Association.

By implementing the above, New Braamfontein will bridge the gap in the urban renewal map and unify other thriving nodes of urban regeneration such as Melville, Brixton and Newtown.

Furthermore the positioning of this part of the city is especially attractive to residents and investors for its ease of access to public transport networks, main roads, major businesses as well as universities Wits &UJ which lie within the ‘education belt’ of Braamfontein.

Smit Street Perspective

Braamfontein Station - Photo Gauteng Tourism Authority

Change is inspiring

The knock-on effect of change is tangible, as seen by the developers when a portion of Solomon Street opposite The Exchange was repaired. They found that their neighbours in turn began painting walls and fixing pavements. This demonstrates the effect of these improvements on the pride of community members and it is a promising sign of things to come.

Joburg’s West is one of the city’s last frontiers, an unearthed gem awaiting growth and investment and, as a community focused development, New Braamfontein Lofts is on board to set change into motion.