Name: Victoria Yards
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Victoria Yards sits on about 21,000 m2 of land zoned for industrial use. Victoria Yards was built for use as a steam laundry in the early 20th century. Fifty years later, with the modernisation of the industry, coupled with the lack of business, the property was sold and fell into disrepair. It became home to auto repair shops and informal businesses, with an irregular income stream.
In 2016, the owners approached Mr Brian Green to seek his expertise in redeveloping the land. Mr Green is a director and shareholder of Group 44 Properties (Pty) Ltd, a property company that owns niche developments in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The driving impetus of Victoria Yards has always held sustainability and the community at the forefront. Of importance was that the surrounding suburb of Lorentzville accepted the project. To this end, Mr Simon Sizwe Mayson became part of the core team that set to work developing and renewing what became known as Victoria Yards. Mr Mayson was the direct conduit to the community and had to find ways to establish relationships that went beyond just seeing the community as a pool of employees from which to draw. Thus, the Makers Valley Partnership was established, with Victoria Yards as the showpiece of the vision for the broader neighbourhood.
Established in early 2018, VY Commons gave the community and the new property owners, Victoria Yards (Pty) Ltd, the opportunity to engage with them on a grassroots level. Today, VY Commons plays a significant role; acting like an entrepreneurial incubation centre and provides space at cost to social and creative enterprises from the neighbourhood and beyond and services including mentoring, all key to the success of Victoria Yards.Mr Green set about finding the correct mix of artists, artisans and art galleries that form the essence of what Victoria Yards is today. Focusing on the art and culture as well as the historical significance of Victoria Yards and the surrounding neighbourhood, it remains a business. However, through providing rental concessions to spaces such as VY Commons, Victoria Yards is well on its way to becoming both sustainable and profitable. In this way, it is embracing the Wellbeing Economy vision for the neighbourhood: people and planet over profit.
Developer: Mr Brian Green – Lead Developer and Consultant/Planner
Owner: Victoria Yards (Pty) Ltd
Masterplan and Architectural Guidelines: Daffonchio and Associate Architects
Architect: Boom Architects