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The once-derelict Coronia Gardens in Berea is getting a makeover from Jozi Housing, which is turning it into decent and attractive rental accommodation.
CORONIA Gardens in Berea will soon be transformed, after undergoing major renovations to its 157 bachelor and 167 one-bedroom flats.

 

Looking slick: a section of Coronia GardensLooking slick: a section of Coronia GardensThe building, on O’Reilly Road, has been a landmark in Berea for over 40 years. First built as a hotel in the 1970s, it was one of Johannesburg’s most popular entertainment spots for over 15 years. Following three years of negotiations and legal struggles, Jozi Housing acquired the building in March 2010 and immediately started planning renovations.
 

According to Sandy Barnes, the chief executive officer of Jozi Housing, the construction is going well with 60 percent of the building revamped. The entire east wing is complete and the west wing is almost complete. Already, 33 tenants have moved into the building.

Jozi Housing owns eight buildings in Berea; the company offices are also based in the suburb. When asked why the company bought the building, he says it was derelict for so many years and without revamping, it would continue to remain an “eye sore” in the area.

Berea experienced an increase in crime during the 1990s, when it became somewhat undesirable and buildings such as Coronia Gardens were hijacked and occupied by criminals and drug dealers. It was later cleared in 2007 by the police and the Red Ants, but Coronia Gardens was stripped, left as only a bare shell.

After spending nearly R30-million on the renovation, Jozi Housing will be able to provide over 300 affordable rental flats for middle to lower income households. Construction began in August 2010 and the building is quickly being restored, with half of the exterior already painted.

Renovation of the 157 bachelor and 167 one-bedroom flats is due for completion at the end of April and the building should be fully functional by the end of September. Coronia Gardens is the 11th building in the Jozi Housing fold, which has been restored from a derelict state into that of a modern, clean, secure and well-run block of flats.

 

Coronia Gardens, before the renovations Coronia Gardens, before the renovationsFinance for the building project was secured from the National Housing Finance Corporation.
 

JCIBC
According to the Johannesburg Inner City Business Coalition (JICBC), during construction, the building is providing over 200 painters, plumbers, electricians and other contractors with employment. Once completed, it will provide direct employment for 20 cleaners, security guards and maintenance technicians. A further 100 independent black economic empowerment contractors will be used to carry out repairs and maintenance in all Jozi Housing buildings.

The JICBC has invested nearly R4-billion between 2006 and 2009 in the inner city. A study completed by the Central Johannesburg Partnership (CJP) revealed that the capital investment by the private sector in public spaces and joint ventures is sitting at R27,4-million from 2006 to 2009. Further investment of R120-million in public spaces is planned for the next two years.

The JICBC is a private sector initiative managed by the CJP. It is a lobby group working on behalf of inner city property owners, developers and corporate bodies, regularly engaging with City committees, utilities and agencies to share information and ideas

“Many members of the JICBC are also committed to and are members of Joburg’s inner city improvement districts [CIDs], a clear indication that improved management of the public space supports and enables investment by the private sector in property in the inner city.”

Over the past few years, Jozi Housing has spent nearly R200-million on regenerating buildings in Berea. These buildings have also provided an additional 1 300 new respectable, affordable rental flats in the inner city.

The company is also delving into the installation of energy saving technology in its buildings. It has already installed a large solar water heating system and two heating pumps to provide hot water for its tenants.

Coronia Gardens flats all have heat pump technology to replace the previous inefficient and expensive electrically powered boilers. A further five buildings will be converted from central boilers to heat pumps in the next 12 months.

 

Families are moving into Coronia GardensFamilies are moving into Coronia GardensAlong with the renovations, Jozi House is also involved in three residential improvement districts, which have cleaned up streets, provided street patrols and brought in additional security to the Berea area.
 

Residential CID
In 2008, a small section of Berea was transformed into the city’s first residential CID.

It was driven by developer Brian Miller of Ithemba Property Trust, who has been working in Berea since November 2005 but in the broader area for 15 years. In 2008, he said he was driven by the desire to make a difference. Berea’s CID is called Legae la rona, which means “our place”.

The CID consists of seven blocks, running from Barnato Street in the north to Olivia Road in the south, bordered by Fife Avenue in the west and Lily Avenue in the east.

Over a dozen CIDs have been established around the city in Braamfontein, Main Street in the inner city, Sandton, Rosebank, Illovo, Wynberg, Kramerville and Randburg.

An area is declared a CID if it offers normal municipal services like street cleaning and grass cutting, street guard patrolling, litter being picked up and being able to report any problems or loitering. The CID management body also undertakes to remove graffiti, landscape public places and trim trees.

These services are paid for by the property owners.

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