/ 11 October 2013

Rejuvenating the inner city

Demolitions in the Second Avenue precinct have given way for the Second Avenue Court Yard
Demolitions in the Second Avenue precinct have given way for the Second Avenue Court Yard

Although most cities in the world are looking at ways of revitalising their central business districts (CBDs), this need is more acute in South Africa as a result of severe degeneration over the years.

This is according to Kaba Kabagambe, the head of the department of planning at Mangaung Municipality, who says that the municipality is seeing individual property owners and investors responding positively to what is happening in Bloemfontein.

"They are demolishing and recapitalising in their businesses to provide better facilities to customers.

"The three CBDs in the metro (Bloemfontein, Botshabelo, and Thaba Nchu) remain important generators of economic activity," he says.

The process of rejuvenating the inner-city of Bloemfontein has already started, with construction work going on at Hoffman Square, a landmark symbol in the CBD. This is further supplemented by the pavement rehabilitation programme in the city.

A green oasis
Mangaung began a massive redevelopment of the Hoffman Square area in August this year.

This R38-million redevelopment project is expected to take eight months to complete, and will give Hoffman Square and the adjacent Floreat Avenue a face-lift.

More than 30 immediate jobs have already been created with a special focus being placed on local labourers.

The numbers will increase as the project enters into the second phase that will incorporate landscaping and paving components.

This redevelopment project is one of several CBD regeneration programmes geared towards stimulating local economic growth and sustainable livelihoods within the city.

Some of the project deliverables include the beautification and greening of the square, paving of the adjacent streets surrounding the square, new paving between the facades of the post office and Reserve Bank buildings, the restoration of palm trees and indigenous trees, and the restoration and protection of the existing monument.

New bus shelters will also be built, and Charlotte Maxeke Street and Floreat Avenue will be converted into pedestrian areas. There will also be improvements made to safety and security features in the area.

Second Avenue overhaul
Demolitions at the popular Second Avenue precinct in Bloemfontein are nearing an end as the city prepares for an exciting new business district in an urban village setting.

The Second Avenue precinct in Bloemfontein will put the city on par with other big metropolitan centres in the country.

"This is the biggest private initiative towards redeveloping some of the areas in the city. The precinct represents our entertainment sector with pubs, restaurants and a gallery. It is happening on a scale not seen before," says Kabagambe.

An extension of the Loch Logan Waterfront and the Second Avenue development also heed the call made by the executive mayor of Mangaung for residents to assist to turn Mangaung into a reputable world-class city.

The ongoing developments are also in line with the city's spatial development framework, the principal guide that aims to make the inner city accessible to every resident across social and racial lines.

The development is set on either side of Second Avenue, between Nelson Mandela Avenue and Kellner Street in Westdene.

Located at two of the busiest intersections in the city and on one of the main entrance routes to the new Loch Logan waterfront, it is ideally situated to guarantee a great number of visitors.

Second Avenue is already well known for its night life and buzzing atmosphere after hours.

This makes it ideal for visitors strolling through the courtyard and piazza, doing night shopping and enjoying a meal or drink at one of the restaurants.

The development includes converting existing properties, upgrading the area along the N8 arterial; creating a multi-use space, limited retail, landscaping to pavements, making it pedestrian-friendly and having ample parking under buildings.

The new development will boast services lsuch as cafes, restaurants, a gym and offices.

Sidewalk overhaul
As part of the inner city rejuvenation programme, an estimated R24-million will be spent to implement a pavement rehabilitation programme. This programme entails fixing pavements and potholes, upgrading street furniture and applying road markings.

The rejuvenation of sidewalks goes together with the rehabilitation of major roads in Bloemfontein.

These include Church and Rudolf Greyling streets. In turn, Raymond Mhlaba Street is more than halfway complete while Harvey and Hanger roads are approximately three quarters complete.

Contents and photographs for this page were supplied and signed off by Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality