Jabulani brings new vibrancy and growth in Soweto
Rapid developments in recent years have turned the Jabulani Node into Soweto’s own central business district, with the attractions and vibrant activities to rival any other part of Joburg.
Often referred to by residents as “Sandton in Soweto”, the Jabulani Node has been transformed into a modern and vibrant urban space that is beautifully changing the once dreary-looking Soweto skyline.
Councillor Ruby Mathang, the Member of the Mayoral Committee for Economic Development, says the precinct has played a strategic role as a catalyst for development in Soweto. The success of initiatives such as the Jabulani Mall has sparked interest from other developers looking at opportunities to introduce further retail expansions.
The node is one of the signature projects of Johannesburg’s approach to use Transit-oriented Development (TOD) as a stimulus to attract investment and improve the quality of life of Soweto residents. It currently consists of 25 000 square metres of retail shop space, 10 000 sqm of office space and 4 000 mixed-income residential units, 30% of which have been earmarked for low-income earners.
The growth of the R320-million Jabulani Mall, the newly-opened 300-bed provincial hospital, trendy townhouse complexes and the ultra-modern Soweto Theatre – the first of its kind in the township – are among the reasons why perceptions about Jabulani, once known for its high crime rate, are changing fast.
The redevelopment of the single-sex dormitories at the once-infamous Jabulani hostel into family units, at a cost of R487-million, is seen by residents in the area as “a decisive break with an ugly past.”
The upgrading of Bolani and Koma roads, which includes the construction of pedestrian walkways and cycle lanes, are also contributing to making the Jabulani Precinct an urban centre of the future.
“We are now having our own Sandton on our doorstep,” says Phumzile Maseko, a long—time Soweto resident. “There is so much development in the area. It is unbelievable to think that only 20 years ago this area was an open veld, save for the amphitheatre. We now have a mall, a hospital and a theatre and the extension of Rea Vaya has added a convenient and rapid transport system.”
Thanduxolo Mendrew, the CEO of the Johannesburg Development Agency says Jabulani has started to flourish in 2006 and is now taking its rightful place as Soweto’s CBD. This view is supported by Alan Dinnie the senior manager: Property Development at the Johannesburg Property Company who is excited about the prospects for future retail and related development in the area.
The City’s investments in public spaces, transport and the built environment create a more attractive environment for investors and also attract growing numbers of visitors and residents who now regard the Jabulani Node as a primary destination.
“There are ample opportunities to not only strengthen the community services sector and modern housing stock in Jabulani but also grow opportunities in the retail and tourism arenas,” says Dinnie.