Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba is staying true to his word more than a year after he announced grand plans for the City of Johannesburg.
"I made the commitment in December 2016 to turn the inner city into a construction site," he announced at the launch of 71 inner-city properties.
Scores of investors, bankers and property developers gathered at the council chambers on Tuesday morning for the highly-anticipated launch where Mashaba announced that plans were under way to take back derelict buildings and offer them to the private sector.
A total of 500 buildings that were hijacked or abandoned have been identified for investment within the inner city. Of these, 73 have been returned to their rightful owners.
"We hope to release 50 to 100 buildings annually to the private sector for refurbishment," he said.
Where the City cannot track owners, it will take ownership of the buildings and convert them into low-cost housing in the range of R800 to R1 000.
"The City council has given the go ahead to offer 71 buildings to the private sector to convert into low cost housing and student accommodation. This will attract R16bn to R20bn investment," Mashaba told the gallery.
Mashaba told potential bidders that the City was officially open for business.
"Syndicates are taking over our city while Sandton continues to enjoy unprecedented levels of investment. We are determined to not let the inner city deteriorate even further," Mashaba said.
One of the conditions for a successful bid was job creation.
"The creation of artisan training is a condition that is required and bidders must create as many jobs as possible," Mashaba explained.
This project is of interest to the Johannesburg mayor due to his upbringing. There is also an issue of a lack of housing, with a staggering 3 000 people entering the city every month seeking employment.
"Half of my life I did not have a proper home. This was only fulfilled in 1986 at the age of 26 after I started Black like me. My mother was only 65 when she first experienced the joy of home ownership. I want to put a stop to this cycle," Mashaba said.
The Mayor urged investors to invest now and avoid the rush.
”My message to you today is do not wait to invest because in 2-3 years you will not be able to afford to invest in our inner city," Mashaba said.
He hopes to continue enjoying the support of council while he aims to make Johannesburg “a society that is inclusive for all”.
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