How developers deal with “hijacked” buildings in Johannesburg

A column of Red Ants prepares for battle

BACK in 2010, Gerald Olitzki could only survey his new building from a safe distance across the street. He bought the downtown property for redevelopment, even though criminals still controlled it, extorting rent from poor tenants. Squatters peered warily out of broken windows; inside, a warren of shacks faded into the gloom. At that time, he did not dare approach to give your correspondent a closer view. Fast-forward seven years, and Mr Olitzki now strides proudly towards a building that, like many in Johannesburg’s inner city, has been transformed. What was a vertical shantytown is now a bright, clean shopping arcade bustling with small businesses—a nail salon, a bridal shop, a penis-enlargement clinic—along with floors of office space.

Downtown Johannesburg remains pockmarked with dangerous, dilapidated “hijacked” buildings, where armed gangs have wrested control from legitimate owners. The living…

Powered by WPeMatico