“Meet Your City” breakfast encourages local business participation

Meet Your City Breakfast: Helen Botes, JPC
CEO of the Johannesburg Property Company Helen Botes with Pat Corbin (left) and Alex Potgieter (right)

Over 100 delegates attended the “Meet Your City” Officials Business Breakfast organised by the JCCI Property Cluster on June 23, to introduce the CEO of The City of Joburg Property Company, Helen Botes to members.  Rosh Pinah Properties attended this important meeting and invited a number of its clients to attend.

The Joburg Property Company was established in 2000 with the mandate of managing and developing the City’s property assets to maximise both social and commercial opportunities for the Council.

Part of the company’s stated objective is to utilise council-owned property assets to leverage private sector investment in public infrastructure.

“Meet Your City” insights

At the Meet Your City breakfast Ms Botes provided insights into The City of Joburg Property Company’s role, strategic objectives, and how working with the private sector can attract development to Johannesburg in order to provide the necessary impetus to achieve the Mayor’s goal of five percent growth for the City.

Ms Botes shared the various business opportunities available in developing private sector partnerships, using the City of Johannesburg land and outdoor advertising portfolios.   Many present in the audience took advantage of the opportunity to ask Ms Botes questions about problems they had been experiencing.

While the book value of the City’s property portfolio is some R8.6 billion, the current market value is about R40 billion, with over 64 000 properties under management, covering 39 000 hectares across seven municipal regions.

Alex Potgieter, the chair of the JCCI Property Cluster, explained that the “Meet Your City Officials” series of events form part of the mandate of the JCCI Property Cluster to establish strategic partnerships between the private and public sectors. This includes working with both National Government and the Gauteng Department of Public Works.

Mr Potgieter undertook to liaise with the Joburg Property Company to organise regular follow-up meetings where there will be further opportunity for constructive interaction between the private sector and the Property Company.

Also present at the “Meet Your City” breakfast was Pat Corbin, a former President of the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who has recently been appointed Chair of the City of Joburg Property Company Board.

Mr Corbin expressed the view that the Joburg Property Company is a well-managed entity run by a very experienced CEO and competent staff in the various portfolios.

He said, “As an entity of the City of Johannesburg the Board has to report to Council who have to endorse any proceedings of the City of Joburg Property Company. The entity is also required to follow the lead of the mayor.”

City’s distressed buildings a worry

A current major focus is addressing the issues of distressed buildings in the Johannesburg CBD. A particular concern is the impact that legislation has when repossessing distressed buildings, which require rehabilitation in order to provide properly managed accommodation and ownership.

“This will require an approach to Parliament as an unintended consequence of the current legislation is that it protects criminal element. The freedom to occupy and take over buildings and not be charged with trespassing or being served with eviction notices needs to be countered. This is a big impediment to progress,” Mr Corbin said.

“Currently, within a three kilometre radius of Killarney, there are two similar flats; one is on the market for R150 000 and the other R1.5 million. However, once a building becomes untenable from a residential or business point of view, it is worth very little. In the CBD we are sitting with millions of rand worth of property, which aren’t paying rates, and, which can’t house people.

As the City is a third-tier government level it cannot address this situation forcibly,” he added.

Delegates to the Meet Your City Breakfast series
Delegates to the Meet Your City Breakfast series

A second focus of the City of Joburg Property Company is facilitating the provision of title deeds for property ownership so that people have equity for accessing finance for business.

Corbin stressed that business support is essential to take these issues forward. Properly managed accommodation and ownership require partnerships to ensure that these goals are realised.

There was a general consensus from the “Meet Your City” breakfast delegates and the City Property representatives that this event had been a positive first step in understanding the needs and the concerns of both parties. Regular future engagements will build on this process.

 

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