Outgoing Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, was among a line-up of expert speakers in the property, urban planning and government sectors, assembled to tackle the question of how to unearth inner city potential – making investment more accessible and profitable.
The Inner City Property Conference, hosted annually by TUHF Limited, took place at the Sunnyside Hotel in Parktown on 30 October. The event welcomed a line-up of highly anticipated speakers, which included industry leaders, business and investor stakeholders as well as and government representatives.
The Rebirth is underway, but challenges remain
Across South Africa, our inner cities are experiencing a rebirth that is challenging old preconceptions and turning these once dilapidated spaces into some of the most vibrant, desirable and affordable places to live and work.
With a global trend toward urban living and the appeal of accessibility to property investors and residents alike, disused spaces are being transformed into thriving communities. This is affirmed by the trend whereby people are replacing large outlying properties locked away behind suburban walls and conveniently creating entire neighbourhoods inside their very own ‘living rooms’ – within walking distance to work, shopping, transport and dining opportunities, and returning to compact lock-up-and-go apartments that better suits today’s busy lifestyles and affordability.
“TUHF Limited has financed over 38 000 units in all eight metros of the inner cities of South Africa, over the last 17 years with a loan book of over R3.2-billion. We see multiple and diverse economic opportunities downtown coupled with easy access to transport and other opportunities in our country’s inner cities,” says CEO and Co-founder of TUHF Limited, Paul Jackson.
But as conference attendees learned, there are complex obstacles that need to be resolved such as security and social inclusivity. “Urban management and criminal elements remain a challenge that we strive to overcome,” added Mayor Herman Mashaba.
Prof Francois Viruly, Property Economist and Associate Professor at UCT, kicked off his talk with a presentation of global inner city and national property trends stating that in South Africa over the last six years, the top growth sectors in property have all been residential.
Applying this to the inner city context Viruly argues, smaller living spaces become practically viable, affordably drawing in more residents and stimulating local economies from the ground up. He cites Amsterdam as an example where a thriving inner city has been able to revive a vibrant night-time economy to create business and employment opportunities, presenting us with the tempting possibility that the same might happen in South Africa’s biggest metropoles, where unemployment and crime continue to hamper the unmet potential of our cities.