17 Head through the miasma of neglected industrial complexes, fading graffiti, downtrodden mazes of dilapidated fire escapes, burglar bars and boarded or broken windows, resigned expressions and red-brick depression and you’d be forgiven for wanting to find the nearest escape route to Sandton. Persist, however, and you’ll be rewarded with the cultural oasis of the Maboneng (Sotho for place of light) Precinct. The brainchild of Propertuity impresario Jonathan Liebmann, the district is a fine example of urban regeneration that has seen vacant warehouses transformed by creative alchemy into a hip haven of studios, galleries, boutiques and idiosyncratic bars. Located in Jeppestown in one of the oldest parts of Johannesburg, the precinct is concentrated between Fox and Main streets, and is bound by Berea Street in the west and Auret Street in the east. Commissioner and Marshall form its northern and southern borders, but the hotspot is spreading across the neighbourhood, constantly expanding as Propertuity spreads its magic dust over abandoned sites. As can be expected in a project that counts acclaimed artist William Kentridge among its investors, even the graffiti has received an injection of optimism. A massive mural of Nelson Mandela, the ´Shadow Boxer´, lords over the precinct like a sentinel. > The shadows of the mine dumps and rampant crime have lifted as the Johannesburg CBD continues its cultural renaissance and serves up a variety of entertainment and leisure activities. EBRAHIM MOOLLA took a stroll through the up-and-coming Maboneng Precinct. TIP: Use the dedicated Mabo’Go shuttle service to travel to Maboneng, as parking space is usually at a premium. The precinct is best explored on foot and doing so will free you up to indulge at one (or all) of the many establishments in the area. CLOCKWISE: The Maboneng District is situated in Jeppestown and used to be full of warehouses. This area was quite run down and has now been revived as one of the most happening places in the City of Gold. The iconic Market Theatre (top) is one of its main attractions. The Market Theatre • Founded on the site of the Indian Fruit Market in Newtown in 1976 by Mannie Manim and the esteemed playwright Barney Simon, the ‘Theatre of Struggle’ has earned international acclaim for engaging and challenging productions. The premieres of awardwinning plays such as Woza Albert, Asinamali, Bopha and Sophiatown have been hosted by the theatre, along with a slew of Athol Fugard’s dramas. Today, it is a staple venue for Joburgers eager for their weekly dose of live entertainment. The Potato Shed steampunkthemed bistro (try the traditional American South smokehouse fare and craft beers brewed inhouse), inside the nearby Newtown Junction’s 1911 railway sidings, makes for a great pre- and posttheatre dining option.
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