Park Station Precinct – Commuter Links

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Park Station is the busiest transport interchange in Joburg. The Inner City Commuter Links project targets upgrading the public environment for pedestrian and vehicle traffic, as well as for informal traders.

 

Transit-oriented development strategies are at the heart of the City of Johannesburg’s Growth and Development Strategy, Joburg 2040, prompting the JDA to prioritise public transport in its development plans.

An agency focus is the Park Station Precinct, the primary transit interchange in the city.

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It is a busy and vibrant part of the inner city, but there are significant problems with congestion, both vehicular and pedestrian; conflict between people and vehicles; and conflict between informal traders, pedestrians and retailers.

Priorities for the node include cutting crime, safe play spaces for children, more green space, markets for informal traders, managed parking, more taxi facilities, public toilets, and safe walking space for pedestrians and cyclists. There are three JDA projects being undertaken in the Park Station Precinct in 2013/14: Inner City Commuter Links; Metro Park/Transnet Land; and African Food and Culture Hub.

Inner City Commuter Links project

The purpose of the Inner City Commuter Links project is to create a pedestrian friendly and walkable urban environment through setting up a network of public spaces, and improved circulation around and access to formal taxi, bus and rail facilities. The intention is to build an inner city that is functional and liveable, create a safer and more walkable inner city, and improve continuity and connectivity for pedestrians towards and between places of work, public transport and other facilities in a legible and effective way.

It also aims to optimise the use of existing facilities; improve the quality of the public realm, contributing to enhanced safety and perceptions of safety; and complement urban management initiatives to clean up and maintain the inner city. It will also give the message to residents that the City is intent on creating a safe and healthy urban environment in which they can live in dignity, as well as increase investor confidence by showing the City’s commitment. Investors will also get the message that the inner city is a viable investment location in which future value returns are not at risk.

The detailed design work and implementation of identified upgrade initiatives is being undertaken in phases over several financial years. In 2010/11, the JDA implemented the first phase of the five-year project, while phase two was completed in 2011/12.

Phases three and four will focus on upgrading the Noord Street Market. Noord Street was earmarked for prioritisation in the Inner City Urban Design Implementation Plan, the Joubert Park – Joburg Art Gallery Precinct Urban Design Study, and in the Gautrain Park Station Precinct Urban Design Framework.

It is a heavily pedestrianised route lined with traders, and is an important link between public transit facilities such as Park Station, Park City Taxi Rank, Jack Mincer Taxi Rank, and the Rea Vaya Station on Twist Street. It also links these transport facilities to Bridge Shopping Centre and to Park Central Shopping Centre. But the street is in a poor condition and lacks visual permeability. There are also stormwater challenges which need to be addressed.

Upgrading the Noord Street Market and completing as much of the link from Park Station to Twist Street as possible, supports the overall objectives of the Commuter Links development. In addition, the upgrade will improve urban management and formalised street trading spaces will support the local economy. Finally, it will result in a visibly improved public environment.

Phase three is under way, and is expected to be completed at the end of June 2013. The green sections indicated on the map below refer to the areas that are being upgraded at present, namely, the entrance to the Johannesburg Art Gallery and the start of the Noord Street Market upgrade, between Klein and Wanderers streets.

The fourth phase of work is being designed for 2013/14. It will include the continuation of the public environment upgrade along Noord Street between Twist and Klein streets, and from Wanderers to Park Station. In addition, a linear market will be created along King George Street between Noord and De Villiers streets. The railway embankments adjacent to Noord Street will also be stabilised as part of the project.

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Inner city public spaces challenge

public-spaces

Partnerships are at the core of JDA projects, and developers and property owners can submit proposals for collaborations. From its portfolio of projects, the agency allocates resources in a transparent way to the most deserving of these proposals.

 

Over the past 11 years, the JDA has played a strategic role in investing municipal funds in capital works projects that catalyse private investment in key areas in the inner city. In all JDA developments, partnerships with the private property owners, investors, businesses and residents are an integral part of the development approach.

These collaborations are usually built around neighbourhood development plans with medium- to long-term delivery timeframes. But there are examples of smaller partnership projects in which the JDA has co-invested with private stakeholders within the framework of a management agreement in public space. The Main Street Mall is the most notable example of this; the Joubert Street Market, Ekhaya Neighbourhood Park and sanitary lanes in Hillbrow and Berea are also interesting projects with elements of partnership.

The JDA would like to assemble more of these sorts of collaborations into a structured portfolio of projects that allocates resources in a transparent way to the most deserving proposals from private partners. It put out a first call for proposals in 2012/13.

This yielded a good response, with three co-investment opportunities identified for implementation. The first two – an upgrade of streets in the Maboneng Precinct, in partnership with Propertuity; and improvements to alleyways in Braamfontein, in partnership with the Braamfontein Improvement District – are in the construction phase, with completion scheduled for September 2013. The third project, an upgrade to streets in the Hotel Precinct, in partnership with Lionshare Properties, requires some more design work and will only reach the construction stage in 2013/14.

There has been a positive response from private property owners and developers, who have indicated that they would like to make proposals for future co-funded projects. The JDA will advertise the second round call for proposals to identify the best of these in June 2013. The scope of work for the coming year will comprise public environment projects, which will be determined once proposals from developers are received.

The first project in the implementation pipeline is the upgrade of six city blocks in the Hotel Precinct in the core inner city.