although there is an intent to cluster ownership, some City officials argue that the method being followed by the CoJ is unclear. A willing buyer-willing seller approach has been used thus far and there are attempts at consolidation of the purchased sites. It is however not clear as to how these consolidated sites will be used. In order to make a significant impact, land needs to be built into a portfolio that is both traded in the development process and also utilised for public sector-led development (interview with Alan Dinnie, 29 July 2016). In the absence of an economic strategy or sufficient economic analysis and data, the land strategy is at a disadvantage. The theory as articulated in the TOD programme is to capture value in close proximity to transit centres but it remains unclear as to how the City intends to do this. The approach to purchase land has also been controversial. The initial approach to purchase was undertaken post the announcement of the COF, but without sufficient transparency (as reported in the media). Although the City took this approach to prevent a spike in the property market, this meant that homeowners were uninformed about the project. The City was obliged to apologise due to the negative publicity (Cox 2014a). There is a gap in the plan around the status and utility of state-owned land, be it provincially or nationally owned. The political clout of Johannesburg’s politicians can be utilised in order to garner some of this land and use it more efficiently to support broader developmental objectives (interview with Tanya Zack, 26 August 2016). For example, the Park Station Precinct cannot be activated without the cooperation of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA). This is not the only example, and the City needs to proactively engage with other government landowners. Equally concerning is the push towards densification without a clear strategy in terms of educational facilities. The inner city, despite its growth in affordable housing options, clearly lacks sufficient educational opportunities for its residents. Indeed, the provision of appropriate social infrastructure could be a significant intervention to shape market demand. Educational facilities specifically are a fundamental component of a good neighbourhood. In order to support and promote densification, the City needs to engage more actively with the Gauteng Department of Education to guarantee that there is the delivery of sufficient educational facilities. It would be worth considering
Transit corridors & the private sector
incentives for educational facilities prepared to locate to neighbourhoods in the Corridors. There is an opportunity for the City to use its land more effectively. If City-owned land is strategically located or sufficiently large, it could play an important role in providing the public goods that create demand and actively support neighbourhood development and transit hubs.
3.9. Two Case Studies: Orange Grove and Milpark The Corridors comprise multiple nodes, many of which are extremely diverse in terms of residents, urban form and development opportunities. The disparity in the nodes highlights the need for detailed analysis of the property market in each node, as well as interested developers, opportunities for commercial development and partnerships. This distinctiveness is evident in the cases of Orange Grove and the Milpark Precinct.
3.9.1. Orange Grove The neighbourhood of Orange Grove contains primarily low-density housing stock, which presents the opportunity for densification and the provision of affordable housing. It is also situated along a section of Louis Botha Corridor that accommodates small retail businesses and a mix of formal and informal businesses. Orange Grove is interesting in a real estate context for a number of reasons: • It was selected by the City as a Special Development Zone (SDZ) case study and pilot in the purchase of land. • The dynamics around the purchase of properties in Orange Grove as part of the COF project has elicited strong objections by community members. • The City is spearheading a large mixed-use housing project at Paterson Park in Orange Grove, which is one of the initial sites for the Corridors. • The Louis Botha Corridor provides a distinct perspective on real estate and the private sector. It already has a diverse property market with important opportunities for inclusion. It is a critical route connecting Alexandra to the inner city, hence a strategic transport corridor. However, the City’s initial steps into Orange
Grove have caused controversy and concern amongst the residents. The causes of the panic have been twofold: the City’s large-scale purchase of land in the area; and the proposed Paterson Park development, which is targeting a substantial number of social housing units.15 The initial scope of this research was to establish what new developments were underway in Orange Grove as a result of the implementation of the COF and the BRT. It was ascertained through the research process that a number of small new developments were underway but not at a scale that would allow for analysis. Some of the developments were in the vicinity of Orange Grove but not directly in the neighbourhood. Interviews undertaken suggest that there is an interest in the development of affordable housing, that the land market consists of largely small landowners with no real institutional presence, and that there is a growing trend of informal densification. This being the case, any large-scale development would require substantial land consolidation in order to achieve scale. Despite its good location, there has been a slow process of decline in parts of Orange Grove. The land purchase process undertaken by the City has led to a rise in property prices. While there are long-term residents of Orange Grove who are reluctant to sell their properties, there have also been residents who are willing to move and felt that the City offered market-related prices.
3.9.2. The Milpark Precinct The Milpark Precinct on the Empire-Perth Corridor is a very different site, and has already transitioned into a transport corridor.This site offers opportunities for greater densification and is positioned for a diverse portfolio of private sector commercial investment. Milpark is well placed to test the viability of mixed-income housing developments and to monitor the spread of student accommodation. It is also a site of mixed-use developments. Currently, this precinct has multiple large landowners, including Milpark Hospital, Lancet Laboratories, the SABC, University of Johannesburg and University of the Witwatersrand. While there are smaller sites, there are limited options for smaller developers. The latest development trends in the area are covered by the Milpark Urban Design Framework, compiled by Osmond Lange Architects (interview with Jonathan Manning, 12 August 2016). A review of their work and participant observation indicated that there were a number of new developments in the planning phase or underway. These included the change in ownership of 39 Stanley Avenue and plans for new residential accommodation. The Imperial site is also under site preparation and there is evidence of new student accommodation being constructed in Richmond. 15 F or more information on this, see Alexandra Appelbaum’s report, Contestation, Transformation and Competing Visions: a case study of Orange Grove and Norwood – report 7 in this series.
Transit corridors & the private sector
Published on Aug 2, 2017
Part of the Spatial Transformation through Transit-Oriented Development in Johannesburg research series. Published by the South African Rese...