Township Development – Changing face of our South African townships

Developers on a tour of Soweto that took place at the end of 2008 were in awe of what has already taken place in an area that many people regrettably consider being simply a nasty legacy left over before our democracy. Massive property development projects are underway which will prove South Africa’s largest township of offering fantastic returns to the adventurous investor looking for a new beat.

 

Approximately five years ago, the City of Johannesburg embarked on an intensive investment focus on Soweto which is now starting to bear fruit. This, in turn, has encouraged private developers to jump on board, with both private and public projects now sprouting with the abundance of fresh shoots on a winter-dry branch.

 

Maponya Mall opened its doors in 2007. It is situated close to the massive Barlink development consisting of a multi-million rand transport node and hospital upgrade. Property prices have increased considerably and in some parts of Soweto they have increased by an average of 16 percent a year since 2000, outstripping the average national price increase.

 

The City of Johannesburg through its Soweto Greening Project has already planted a million trees and greened soccer fields and open spaces in the township. The Klipspruit / Klipriver is being rehabilitated and tree planting and environmental upgrades will continue unabated over the next few years.

 

Thokoza Park and Moroko Dam were rehabilitated in 2003, thereby increasing the value of properties in that precinct and instilling a sense of community pride. It also developed the award-winning Diepsloot Memorial Park, a cemetery and a conservation area. In addition, the Dorothy Nyembe Centre was the first environmental education centre in the township.

 

By 2005 all Soweto roads were tarred, while upgrades to the township’s ageing water and electricity infrastructure are ongoing. Soweto also became the first township to have its own cycle path, developed by the Johannesburg Roads Agency.

 

Tourism

 

Soweto Tourism says there are 147 tourism products in the area, including heritage and cultural attractions, shebeens, tour operations, conference venues and accommodation establishments.

 

According to the South African Tourism Board well over a hundred thousand visitors have visited its townships over the past several years or so. Some of the tourism attractions include heritage and cultural attractions, shebeens, tour operations, conference venues, accommodation establishments, restaurants, shops and bars.

 

At the site where the Freedom Charter was drawn up over 50 years ago, there is now a world-class international hotel, the Holiday Inn Soweto, which opened its doors in November 2007. It overlooks the buzzing informal markets of Union Street on one side and the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication on the other, giving visitors a first-hand taste of real Kliptown living.

 

Modern Theatre Complex planned for Soweto

 

In the heart of the township of Soweto, the construction of a R110 million Theatre Complex is scheduled to be completed in April 2010 just in time for the FIFA World Cup.

 

Residents of Soweto outside Johannesburg will soon be able to enjoy professional local and international drama productions on their doorstep, as construction on the township’s first fully-fledged theatre begins this week. The theatre will be located in Soweto’s traditional heartland of Jabulani, on a vacant site between the Jabulani Mall and the Jabulani Amphitheatre, and will comprise three performing venues, capable of seating between 90, 180 or 420 people. One of the key design elements is flexibility, so that a wide variety of artistic products can be accommodated at the venue.

 

Over the past couple of years a number of high-profile investments have begun to change the profile of Soweto. Glitzy shopping malls, restaurants and bars are anticipated to tap into new wealth in the growing black middle-class suburb.

 

The complex will be situated at a busy intersection across from a new shopping mall in an open field that the city of Johannesburg plans to transform into a retail, business and residential business complex. According to the Department of Arts and Culture, the theatre will provide equitable access to arts and culture facilities for the residents of Soweto and surrounding areas and will be fully accessible to all people, including those with disabilities.

 

Courtesy: Agent – The Official Publication of the Estate Agency Affairs Board

 

  

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