Our vision for a new decade
Two years ago, Divercity Urban Property Fund initiated a strategy to create thriving mixed-use inner-city precincts in Johannesburg City. This began with massive investments towards the rejuvenation of six blocks of the seedier side of the city – an area referred to as Jewel City for its history of once having been the heart of the diamond and precious metals trade in Johannesburg. Included in this urban renewal project was the redevelopment of the iconic ABSA Towers Main building (now called Towers Main).
Divercity’s founding partners are Atterbury and Ithemba Property, with Talis Property Fund playing an instrumental role in the formation of the fund.
The first two years of Divercity
The past two years have been an interesting journey for Divercity. We have succeeded in building a formidable working culture with great chemistry between the partners, with the result that we launched our development pipeline successfully with almost no delays on any of our projects. We are particularly pleased with the progress made at our Jewel City and Towers Main developments. These projects represent the largest investment made in the inner city of Johannesburg since the dawn of our constitutional republic in 1994. Indeed, the South African public had never seen as rapid and substantial a development as this in the inner city until Divercity arrived to challenge the commonly held opinion that “the inner city is dead”.
Our most significant achievement thus far
We consider ourselves privileged to have been part of the solution that led to convincing Absa Bank to recommit to the inner city. The sale and lease back of the Towers Main continues to be a shining example of how sustainable partnerships between property developers, such as we, and corporate South Africa can bring about solutions for urban regeneration. Absa has committed to 10 000 square meters of commercial office space for the next 10 years with the possibility of extending beyond that period. Furthermore, the 500-plus residential units that form part of that development will be occupied mostly by Absa employees. The first residential units were completed at the end of 2019 and the first residents have already moved in. This process will gain momentum over the next year as construction moves towards completion. We believe that, if this kind of collaboration could be replicated, it would lead to large-scale urban regeneration, growth and prosperity.
The big challenge
Last year was a tough one, on a global scale, so the biggest challenge for our country this year will be to stimulate the economy to the levels that are required in order to create jobs in the market as well as to create sufficient liquidity to support the development of much needed social infrastructure for our people.
Our continued experience with Divercity is one of growth. The professional, corporate governance that is maintained within Divercity creates an environment of transparency and trust. For this reason, we have experienced ourselves as integral to Divercity’s multi-faceted delivery machinery. As Divercity we pledge to continue to contribute our resources and talents to the realisation of a better South Africa for all.
Projects that will keep us busy in 2020
We have recently acquired the rights to develop a new residential node in the Randburg CBD. We are very excited and pleased to have the opportunity to create a new, functional neighbourhood for the people of Randburg. We see this as an enabler, to support the rapid expansion of the middle-class sector of our economy. This is a sector of our population which requires accommodation that is reasonably aspirational, and amenities that won’t break the bank. We look forward to breaking ground in Randburg in the near future.