Exciting developments in Jozi Inner City: No One Eloff St

No One Eloff Street

No One Eloff St Source: Molten Black
No One Eloff St Source: Molten Black

Last week’s Pick of the Week was the week-end Pop-Up market at Joziburg Lane.  Heeding my own suggestion, on Saturday I met up with a friend who’s always up for a bit of exploring and off we went to No One Eloff (cnr Wemmer Jubilee). Gerald Garner of Joburg Places fame, and the initial developer of The Sheds at 1 Fox St, has rented a large ground floor space at No One Eloff Street.

Recently painted in an unmissable eye-catching yellow and blue, No One Eloff Street is a large building which used to be a massive parking garage. Bought by the property developers Molten Black early last year, it is in the process of being turned into a major residential and retail hub.

Joziburg Lane

Looking down on the Joziburg Lane food market from the mezzanine level Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse
Looking down on the Joziburg Lane food market from the mezzanine level Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

While the residential part of the project is close to completion (more of that below), the food market is still very much in its early undeveloped phase and is only due to open properly in August. However we got a feel for what Joziburg Lane will offer as it becomes a more permanent fixture. The formula is much the same as The Sheds at 1 Fox:  various shops and stalls, different food and drink options, live music and with a fabulous north-facing mezzanine deck where you can check out the market space below as well as look over a different view of Jozi’s  urbanscape. Joziburg Lane gets its name from the alleyway adjacent to the main building which culminates in the foodhall/market/events space seen in the photo on the left.  To show you how fast things happen in Joburg, check the photos on 2 Summers’ blog post written on 8 April 2016 where the ground floor space of Joziburg Lane is an empty shell!

Sculpture exhibition this way

1 Eloff st
Temporary sculpture exhibition in one of the central courtyards. The courtyard is surrounded by 2 floors of apartments. Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

After chilling on the sun-soaked deck over a beer shandy and a samoosa, we went in search of the sculpture exhibition advertised as being in one of the courtyards of the building.

Off we set not quite sure of where we were going but following the typed signs saying ‘Sculpture exhibition This Way -> Opens at 2 pm’.  Up stairs, through heavy metal swing doors, across parking garage ramps, over a fair bit of building rubble, into smart face-brick corridors lined with freshly painted and brightly-coloured and numbered doors, we eventually emerged into a spacious inner courtyard where the sculptures were on display. (I loved Guy du Toit’s humorous hat on a plastic chair – all cast in bronze).

Apartment space at no One Eloff

Wanting to find out more about the living spaces facing onto the courtyard, we tried to access them from an inside corridor.  We met a young man emerging from one of the apartments who very graciously showed us inside his living space – a downstairs area with kitchen, bathroom, tiny living area, with 2 open mezzanine loft sleeping areas built in the double volume space.

1 Eloff St apartment
Looking down on the kitchen area and bathroom across to the 2nd mezzanine sleeping section. A small living area below faces the kitchen Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

We later tagged onto a group being shown around by Geoff Jardine of Molten Black and saw another as yet unoccupied apartment. Work started last April to convert the empty inner shell of this huge parking garage into 320 loft style apartments, offices, artists’ studios and retails spaces.  The flats (with a starting rental of R3500 a month) are arranged in circular formations with windows either facing out to the street or onto large internal courtyards. Each circle of apartments is colour coded : green, yellow, red, purple or blue.

All materials – windows, beams, balustrades, trunking and metal fittings, doors, doors numbers, etc. were custom-made in Molten Black’s own workshop and work started in April 2015 and has continued every day 7 days a week since.

Currently about two thirds of the apartments are occupied with around 40 tenants a month signing up and moving in.   There are one and  two ‘bed-roomed apartments’ with a couple of slightly larger units.

1 Eloff St
First tenants moved in a month ago and with 40 sign-ups a month there is always somebody moving in Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Of course there will be long term issues around safety and security, building maintenance and overcrowding but if the residents are committed and involved and set up a residents’ committee, there are huge opportunities for a vibrant community with safe housing close to work, transport, shopping and leisure hubs. (The Faraday taxi rank is across the road on the south side.)

View across Jozi from 1 Eloff St
View north across Jozi from One Eloff St Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

There are so many markets and food halls in various regenerated urban industrial spaces in inner city Jozi: Neighbourgoods in Braamfontein on Saturdays, Market on Main in Maboneng on Sundays, The Sheds @ 1Fox, that there is perhaps the danger of an over-supply. But with the residential component of 1 Eloff, the proximity to Faraday taxi rank and the increasing number of residential developments in the inner city, there is also an ever increasing demand for convenient shopping and leisure hubs. So maybe wait a couple to months to allow for an increase in food stalls and product choice, and then take a trip to Jozburg Lane for a chilled weekend meal and to get a sense of 1 Eloff and see yet another example of creative vision and entrepreneurship which is providing much needed centrally- located residential accommodation and bringing Jozi inner city back to life.

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