Yesterday’s lunch was underwhelming for a variety of reasons I’d rather not detail in this post. For the weekly photo theme of WATER, I’ll just share some pics I took and a bit of Johannesburg history, courtesy of Wikipedia.
The Randburg Waterfront was originally built in 1994, and consisted of a large oval of shops and restaurants surrounding a lake in a natural depression in President Ridge in Randburg, fed by the Jukskei River. Shop fronts were constructed to have nautical theme, and the artificial lake had a motorised fountain system built-in, which would give evening synchronised light and water displays to the score of classical and contemporary music. The Waterfront was plagued by several delays in building, and the intended completion date of the complex was pushed back several times; when the official opening day came around, several visitors complained that many stores were uncompleted or not fully furbished.
The Waterfront suffered a decline in visitors after 2000, and as a result some of the many restaurants and small shops were forced to close. Addressing this slump in business, the Waterfront owners, Gray Property Trust, identified several issues leading to the economic downward spiral of the centre. These issues included a too-high restaurant density, insufficient retail space, clubs that encouraged drug abuse (most notably the since-closed infamous Morgan’s Cat Nightclub), and – ironically – the large body of water itself, which effectively separated the restaurants from each other and had, by 2000, begun to smell rancid.
Gray Property Trust invested R80-million (approx. $12.5 mil, €10.4 mil, £7 mil) in refurbishing the ailing complex. An active decision to make the Waterfront a more ‘active retail experience’ prompted the redevelopment to greatly reduce the size of the artificial lake to a large central pond, which still features the musical fountains – drawing large crowds for the shows at 7pm and 8pm daily, as well as a meandering artificial river on the southern side. The area previously occupied by water was made into a grass park, which was then carved up by numerous walkways, and the centre of which a formal flea market was constructed.
The nautical theme of the Waterfront was replaced in favour of a Bohemian-cum-English commons feel, the idea of which lent itself to the complex’s new name; The Brightwater Commons.
Today, the centre is active and busy, with various events such as live bands and concerts ensuring a respectable number of visitors.