THE Inner City Property Scheme (ICPS) is replacing the Better Buildings Programme and is expected to continue to transform the inner city.
Over the past few years, Joburg's inner city has gradually changed from a grimy, unsafe place filled with dilapidated buildings to one that is drawing business and residents back. These changes have credited largely to the implementation of the Better Buildings Programme, which has now been reviewed and replaced by the ICPS.
The new scheme was launched on 6 April by Executive Mayor Amos Masondo to investors, potential funders, members of the mayoral committee and ward councillors. The launch was followed by a visit to one of the 30 buildings that are ready to be taken over by the shortlisted investors for development. They were handed silver spades marking the official handover to start refurbishment.
The central focus of the ICPS is the attainment by investors and developers of dilapidated, abandoned and illegally occupied or hijacked buildings. This will be done on a case by case basis through abandonment agreements with the property owners, sales in execution and expropriations, and will include the transfer of dilapidated buildings owned by the City.
Once these buildings are acquired, they will be refurbished and brought in line with the building code of the City to become viable and productive economic assets.
Masondo said: "The ICPS is an important initiative by the City of Johannesburg, in partnership with the private sector, to address urban decay and accelerate the rejuvenation of the CBD.
"Across the world, in most of the big cities, the state and appearance of a CBD is an important barometer to determine the ability of a city to attract and retain investment. It is also a reflection of the extent of the advancement to commerce and overall economic development."
He explained that during the Inner City Summit in 2007, there was a general consensus to stabilise the inner city, address urban decay and combat crime and grime. The summit adopted the Inner City Charter, which was established to provide a broad framework for future programmes.
ICPS will rejuvenate the inner city, says economic development ED Jason Ngobeni. Key objectives of the ICPS comprise the restoration of legitimate tenancy and ownership of buildings in the inner city; delivery of social and transitional housing; eradication of slumlords; maintaining and encouraging investor confidence; maintaining law and order; and improving revenue streams
"Cities are like human beings," said Masondo. "They are born, go through life and then eventually die. As such, urban renewal will be an ongoing process … We don't want any shortcuts. People who win the bids must deliver. There is no room for failure. This is not a money making scheme. Investors must succeed."