It has been almost two years since the Divercity urban renewal fund was launched, combining the resources and talents of Atterbury with those of Ithemba and Talis Property Fund. Atterbury Property Fund (APF) and Talis chairman Tebogo Mogashoa has been a key partner in the fund’s mission to re-energise South Africa’s urban centres with strategic inner-city development. He shares his vision for 2020.

Looking back at the first two years of Divercity, are you satisfied with the achievements and progress so far? Have there been any diversions from the plans that were made at the outset, and if so, can you share why and how?
The past two years have been an interesting journey for Divercity. As the founding partners of the fund together with Atterbury and Ithemba, we have come to build a formidable working culture and chemistry which has seen us progress to launch our development pipeline successfully with almost no delays on any of our projects. We are particularly pleased with the progress made at our Jewel City and Towers Main (formerly known as Absa Towers) developments. These projects represent the largest investment ever made in the inner city of Johannesburg since the dawn of our constitutional republic in 1994. Indeed, the South African public hadn’t seen a rapid and substantial development of this kind in the inner city until Divercity came about to challenge the conventional wisdom that dictates that “the inner city is dead”.

What do you consider to be the most significant achievement so far?
We consider ourselves privileged to have been part of the solution that led to convincing Absa bank to recommit to the inner city; the sale and lease back of the Towers Main remains a towering example of how sustainable partnerships between property developers such as ourselves and corporate South Africa can bring about solutions for urban regeneration. Absa has committed to 10 000 square meters of commercial office space for the next 10 years with the possibility of extending beyond that period. Furthermore, the 500-plus residential units that form part of that development will be mostly occupied by Absa employees. The first residential units were completed at the end of 2019 and the first residents moved in already. This process will gain momentum over the next year as construction is completed. We believe if this kind of collaboration could be replicated, it could lead to growth and prosperity for urban regeneration.

What has been the biggest challenge for Talis Property Fund in terms of its role in the Divercity schedule? Has there been unexpected benefits that have arisen too?
Our experience has certainly been that of growth. The professional corporate governance that is maintained within Divercity creates an environment of transparency and good governance. We therefore feel like an integral part of the many moving parts within the Divercity delivery machinery.

Last year was a tough one globally. What do you foresee will be the biggest challenge in 2020?
The biggest challenge for our country is to stimulate the economy to levels that are required to create jobs in the market as well as to create sufficient liquidity to support the development of much needed social infrastructure for our people. As Divercity we pledge to contribute our resources and talents to the realisation of a better South Africa for all.

What are the projects that will keep you personally busy in 2020?
We have recently acquired the rights to develop a new residential node in the Randburg CBD. We are very excited and pleased to have the opportunity to create a new functional neighbourhood for the people of Randburg. We see this as an enabler to support the rapid expansion of the middle-class sector of our economy. This is a part of our population that requires reasonably aspirational accommodation and amenities without breaking the bank. We look forward to breaking ground in Randburg in the foreseeable future.

What are your hopes for 2020, in general, but also specifically for Talis and for Divercity?
We hope to continue to think and grow rich… this is an inspiration from the great author Napoleon Hill.