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In the early-to-mid 1970’s, the start of the decay of the inner-city of Johannesburg and the large scale exodus of business to the suburbs, sparked our interest in the Johannesburg CBD which, was soon to become a passion. At the time buildings were literally being abandoned and becoming dereli... read morect.
Through the 1970’s and into the 1980’s, we conceptualised a blue-print for the development of an east-west spine for the Johannesburg CBD, from the Magistrates Court in the west, along Main Street, through Ghandi Square and continuing along Fox Street, until the Carlton Centre in the east.
As a relatively modest initial step, in 1989 the OPH bought its first building on the Van de Bijl Square (later to become Ghandi Square).
In 1993 OPH approached the Johannesburg City Council with the, then, preposterous concept of creating the Ghandi Square as a people-friendly destination. At the time, it was a grubby bus station facility that was regarded as one on the crime hot-spots in the CBD. In 2000, after 7 years of dogged persistence, the Ghandi Square of today was finally approved and developed.
Our dream of a spine was completed within a few years thereafter, by the development of the Fox Street Mall and the Main Street Mall (the latter having been, finally, project managed into existence by others).
Simultaneously, we progressively purchased empty, derelict and, often, squatter-occupied buildings along the spine, restoring these to excellent standards, with sensitivity to the architectural history of these.
Our efforts are by no means at an end and he has several new CBD revitalisation projects in the pipeline, with many more on the horizon.
These efforts, stretching over more than two decades, are considered, in many quarters, to be a major catalyst in the revival of the Johannesburg CBD.