Braamfontein YMCA building gets new lease on life

An artist's  impression of the YMCA building converted to house residential, retail and  commercial spaceInner city property developer Aengus Lifestyle Properties has begun converting the 1950s Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) building in Braamfontein into its biggest mixed-use development to date.

The new development will consist of 4 000m square metres of commercial space, 190 residential units and prime retail space.

Situated close to a number of large employers in the Braamfontein area, as well as the University of the Witwatersrand, it is expected to be fully tenanted as demand for comfortable, affordable accommodation in downtown Johannesburg climbs.

It is close to the metro offices of the Johannesburg City Council, the Civic Theatre, and Gautrain’s Park Station which is due to be fully operational by 2011.

“The building has an interesting history and will no doubt attract both residential and commercial tenants, especially those within the creative industries” says Aengus Lifestyle Properties chief executive, Richard Rubin.

The YMCA building on the corner of Rissik and Smit Streets was built in 1952 to provide refuge for young men looking for shelter. Once referred to as, ‘the answer to the moral decay in society’, the YMCA was first established in South Africa in 1865 in Cape Town and later moved to Johannesburg. In 1912 the YMCA building at 71 Pritchard Street was converted into a theatre and the YMCA built its new residence where the building still stands today.

Aengus recently bought the building from property loan stock company ApexHi, seeing an opportunity to convert it into a more modern and fashionable development that would attract people back to live and shop in Braamfontein. The conversion is well under way and due for completion by the end of July this year.

“We expect the upgrading of the YMCA building to have a positive effect on the whole area,” says Rubin.

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