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Melville Residents' Association

Newsletter #3
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27 BOXES – THE GOOD NEWS AND THE UNCERTAIN NEWS

by Suzanne Brenner

Melville residents have every right to wonder about the future of 27 Boxes. The truth is there is a lot we don’t know about what’s going on there. Suzanne Brenner tells it like it is.
 
" I have served on so many 27 Boxes committees - both formal and informal - I decided it was time to pool resources and join forces with the MRA.
 
Lest anyone thinks otherwise, the MRA committee consists of volunteers who are passionate about Melville and who, despite HOLDING DOWN demanding jobs, make time to defend the best interests of Melville residents.

Website
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Join the MRA
"Joining the MRA and participating as a  volunteer allows me to become part of the destiny of my living environment.  This role allows me to be an active partner in building an inclusive society on human scale principles. Yet, it also affords me the opportunity to stop the attempts of individuals who want to change the neighbourhood  for their own selfish gains" -- Reinhold Just

Volunteers are encouraged to team up in portfolios that have direct bearing on where they live or their interests. The 27 Boxes sub-committee is a good mix of residents - some have lived here for ages and some are new to the area.

As a group, we are concerned about the future of the development and we are cognisant of the importance of making 27 Boxes work – of making it relevant and indispensable to locals. We are hopeful that we will find synergy with Citiq management and to this end, we’ve reached out to the new CEO to meet with us but so far we have had no response.
 
NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS
There is enough evidence to show that a well-managed diverse tenant mix and consideration for neighbouring residents may be all that’s required to fix 27 Boxes.
 
I started looking at the place through new eyes when I attended same-night openings of two classy new furniture shops, The Storr Room and Widmer & Co. The latter also hosted a fascinating pop-up exhibition, where Andy Rice shared a wonderful selection of his advertising posters and Ken Preston showed rare SA heritage prints from his Brand Museum collection, some going back to the 1800s.
 
It was an encouraging sign of what 27 Boxes could become with a revived thrust to make this retail space a relevant attraction.
 
The ‘new’ Wednesday evening market, which kicked off on 12 October, has only added to that view. In its old guise on the roof, it is was unlit, uncoordinated and as far removed from the tenants as it could be and adding insult to injury loud music made conversation impossible and blasted the suburb.
 
The new version is friendly, vibey and all-inclusive of the lower and upper levels. There are additional seating areas where one can relax, eat and converse and the music is on a human scale. In short, it has the market potential to be a draw card.
 
On Saturday afternoon, I also popped in to check out the sidewalk sale. On the upper level Deon de Lange of Concrete Jungle – together with owners of neighbouring shops - went all out to do what it takes.
 
It’s not enough to make 27 Boxes a rave just yet, but it could be new beginnings. As residents, we have no alternative but to support it and make it work.

As members of the 27 Boxes committee, we invite you to join us in overturning all negative perceptions and who knows, together we could put it on the map. "

The context…
 
For more than 10 years the legacy of Faan Smit’s gift of a green lung to the people of the suburb - providing it remained a park - was defended by WARM then the first MRA. One by one, the individuals who were holders of the lease awarded to JAM by Joburg City Council dropped out, bar a lone businessman determined to hold out for the highest bidder.

I was in council when the declassification of the park was approved in the late 1990s; dedicated objectors still hoped they would win support to reverse the declassification.

Theories abound about what happened next and many suspect that there was collusion among well-placed Melville players with the developers who were successful where others had failed to take over the lease. Despite numerous shops being empty in Melville’s 7th Street commercial strip, a retail development was put on the table. Rumours abounded.

The developer was growing weary of Melville residents’ stubborn intransigence said one faction, while another whispered loudly that low cost-housing developers were scouting with intent.

In a sense, this history is just that, history. What is more important is that we put up a united front and find a way to make 27 Boxes viable and successful. There is no other way.
Suzanne Brenner is a resident volunteer on the 27Boxes Portfolio Sub Committee. 
Protecting our pavements

JC , pavements in Melville should be a safe space for pedestrians and an attractive part of our suburb. Yet in recent months many of our pavements have been taken away by badly-managed contractors installing fibre and working on water and electricity connections.

A team on the MRA is developing a pavements strategy and will be working with residents and the authorities to restore our pavements and make them safe and attractive again. Comments and ideas are welcome at
mra-pavements@ilovemelville.co.za
The Melville Security Initiative was initially a project started by the Melville Residents' Association to focus on a resident managed security initiative for Melville.
 
Over time, for a number of reasons, the two entities drifted apart, with the MSI focusing on camera roll outs and pro-active security initiatives, and the MRA focusing on other non-security resident issues.
At a recent MSI Directors meeting it was decided to create a closer relationship between the two entities. This was then supported at the October MRA Committee meeting where it was decided the MSI would now combine with a newly created sub-committee of the MRA (Security Sub-committee) to ensure the two entities are collaborating on all security issues.
 
We all agree massive value will continue to be added to the residents of Melville through this new relationship, and would also like to invite residents who are interested in contributing to the sub-committee to please email: msi@ilovemelville.co.za
The Look and Log guide is a cut-out-and-keep guide for all your logging needs as a City of Johannesburg ratepayer. Ward councillors across the City encourage residents to make use of the guide, which is not an official City document, to help log different service delivery issues.

It provides residents with options to report street lights that are not working, fallen trees, dumping, vagrants, a motor vehicle accident, refunds, Metro Bus timetables and bin requests, among others.

The guide was created by Ward 102 councillor, David Potter in 2013. "Many residents had no clue how to log issues; the City had implemented so many 'mini' call centres and alternative places to log queries.

Look and Log is a catchy phrase that gets people involved in their suburbs by looking and then logging." he said.
Potter said the information in the guide could be revised if the City's customer charter, which includes the response times to issues logged, are changed.

As active citizens who live, work and play in the City of Johannesburg you need to get involved and LOOK AND LOG. That way you hold the local government officials accountable for service delivery.

The councillors in the City of Johannesburg serve as the interface between the citizens they represent and the municipal officials who design and implement development polices. The councillor’s job is not just to serve as the voice of the people, for the expression of their community needs, but also to act as a watchdog and ensure the municipality implements policies to address the needs of citizens. It is therefore important that should issues you log not be adequately addressed, such be brought to the attention of your local Ward or PR councillor.

Each issue has an expected turn-around time. If you have logged the issue and the issue is not resolved in the given turn-around time, then you can send a request to escalate via SMS, WHATSAPP or EMAIL to our ward councillor Bridget Steer | 083 604 0404 |
bridget.steer@gmail.com

Please provide the following information should you wish to escalate to councillor:
  • Your name
  • Your contact details
  • A brief description of the issue (no long histories)
  • The exact location of the issue
  • A reference number

Visit the Look and Log website (http://www.lookandlog.co.za) or download the guide by clicking here
Local store starts paint recycling service

 
Top Paints Melville has teamed up with Wastegroup to provide a regular paint recycling service for the local community.

Paint is classified as hazardous household waste in terms of Johannesburg’s bylaws. Only an accredited service provider may transport hazardous waste; and it’s illegal to put paint, dirty brushes of paint tins into a Pikitup bin. Washing paint down the drain will contaminate the Braamfontein Spruit.

“Paint is regularly spilled or needs to be disposed of,” says
Phildo Steyn. “The green and responsible option is to get rid of it in a non-polluting way. “

The first Top Paints recycling day will be on Friday 25 November 2016. A skip will be placed in the parking area outside the shop, on the corner of Main Road and Ayr Road. The waste will be removed the next day by Wastegroup, which will recycle plastic and metal tins where possible, and responsibly dispose of the rest of the waste according to city bylaws.


For more information call Maritsa Nel from Wastegroup: 078 459 4869
www.wastegroup.co.za

 
Top Paints Melville
Corner Main & Ayr Roads, Melville (above and behind Mays Chemists)
079-352-2748 | toppaintsmelville@gmail.com

With drought conditions predicted to occur more regularly,
Jane Griffiths looks at water wise methods of vegetable gardening.

It is very disheartening seeing our lovingly tended food plants die because of heat and lack of water. However, we can prevent this by following a few simple techniques and methods.
 

Create healthy soil

Water does more than provide liquid for our plants to drink. It breaks organic matter in the soil into soluble nutrients. Water carries these through the soil, to the roots and into the plant  where they are put to use. Healthy soil will allow water to soak into it (rather than run off  immediately), holding onto some but allowing the excess to drain away. This leaves both  moisture and air in the soil pores. No-dig gardening and increasing the amount of organic  matter and humus in the soil, will improve its water retention ability.
 

·    When preparing beds for the first time, remove the topsoil and dig a 30cm deep trench. Add a thick layer of well-rotted manure and compost. Fill in the trench, adding the topsoil last.

·    After this, never dig the soil again. Digging up and turning over the earth is more harmful than beneficial to the soil. Digging upsets the balance in soil life, destroys beneficial organisms  and loses moisture and nutrients.

·    Maintain fertility by regularly adding compost and well rotted manure to the surface of the bed.

·    To avoid the soil compacting, never stand on the soil. Create small beds with pathways around them and edging to keep the enriched soil inside.

Mulch, mulch and more mulch

Mulching (adding leaves, compost or other organic matter to the surface of the soil) is one of  the simplest yet most beneficial things we can do in our gardens. A mulched surface creates a forest floor environment that plants love. It reduces weeds and spread of disease, strengthens roots, improves the quality and fertility of the soil and most importantly retains moisture and regulates temperature.

·   Preferably use organic mulches such as compost,  straw, leaf mould, grass clippings, autumn leaves and clippings from shrubs – especially  artemisia, sage and lavender, which constantly need trimming. Artemisia has the added benefit of repelling bugs, which hate its smell.

·   Apply when seedlings are about 3 to 5 cm high. Depending on the material, mulch can be anything from 5 to 15 cm thick.

·   If using fresh grass clippings, mix them with leaves first, otherwise they become dense and slimy, preventing water and air from reaching the soil.

·   Leave a mulch-free circle of about 3 to 5 cm around stems to prevent rot. For larger plants with woody stems, leave a mulch-free zone of about 10 to 15 cm to prevent the bark decaying.

·    Always weed and water the beds well before applying mulch.

 

Waterwise planting

·    By practicing no-dig gardening and using smaller beds, we can space plants close together, so when they grow to full size, their leaves just touch one  another. This creates a living umbrella which shades the soil, keeping it moist and requiring less watering.

·    Plan ahead by sowing seeds under plants that will shortly be harvested and removed. Their leaves will provide protection and help retain moisture for germinating seedlings.

·    Group plants with similar watering requirements together. 

·    On a slope, create terraces along contours to retain water. 

·    Plant cover crops such as mustard, clover and buckwheat to improve soil and avoid leaving it exposed.

 

Choose drought tolerant plants

You will be inviting disappointment if you sow lettuces or coriander during the hottest summer months. Rather choose plants that enjoy the heat and don't go to seed quickly. Examples are: sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, tomatoes, beans, eggplants, spring onions, chives, chilies and Mediterranean herbs such as oregano, sage, thyme and rosemary.

 

Go undercover
Erecting a shade cloth covering or roof will reduce the effects of the sweltering sun. Keep the sides open to allow air to flow through. In hail prone areas, make the roof  pitched - if flat, the stones will quickly collect and their weight will break the supports or tear the shade cloth.

 

Be water savvy

Even when using these methods, if there is no rain, we need to water. Drip irrigation is the most effective way to deliver water directly to the roots, without any wastage or loss from evaporation.  Drip  irrigation can be connected to a timer to ensure regular watering.

·   If plants are drooping during a hot day, don’t worry, they are just closing stomata (minute openings in their leaves used for respiration) to retain water. If they are still drooping when it has cooled, it is time to water.

·   Rather water deeply and less often than shallowly, often. 

·   During hot weather water either early in the morning or after the sun has set to reduce loss of water through evaporation.

CREDIT
Text: Jane Griffiths.
Photographs: Jane Griffiths and Keith Knowlton.

Jane Griffiths is the author of the best selling Jane’s Delicious Garden, Jane's Delicious Herbs and Jane's Delicious Urban Gardening. 

Find out more at www.janesdeliciousgarden.com

#MyMelville

Sketches by Cathy Gatland
MELVILLE IS STILL MAGIC FOR ONE OF ITS OLDEST RESIDENTS
Tannie Minnie Breedt has lived in Melville for 90 years.

Christine Pretorius visited her and discovered a little magic as they travelled back in time.
Tannie Minnie Breedt (nee Naude) was born in 1924 in Jagersfontein, where she lived until the untimely death of her father two years later. Her maternal grandfather intervened and invited his daughter and tiny Minnie to move to the family home at 59 4th Avenue, Melville.

Oupa Machiel Daniel van Deventer was a builder and among his constructions in the area were two pairs of semis built in 1936 - one next door to his house and another at the bottom of his erf, but facing 5th Avenue.

In 1945 Tannie Minnie moved into one of them and it’s where she still lives.
My visit to Tannie Minnie brings ‘her’ Melville magically alive: she remembers visiting a Mr and Mrs Walters at 66 4th Avenue, where Trattoria Picobella enchants Johannesburg cafe society today. Mrs Walters ran a successful boarding house - dubbed ‘Mrs 66’ by her paying guests - that holds another special memory as the place Tannie Minnie met her future husband, Nick Breedt, whom she married on 28 April 1945.

Tannie Minnie reminisces about the shops back then. There was Mr Krige’s butchery in 3rd Avenue that supplied delicious lamb shanks. Natty young men bought their Oxford bags at Melville Outfitters and had their bicycles repaired at a shop owned by a man aptly known as ‘Hans Baaisiekel’. Tannie Minnie also recalls that the first De Vries Bakery was in Melville.

Groceries were bought from the Melville General Dealer, conveniently situated where the Hope Charity Shop now thrives, and if one needed medical care, doctors Fine and Lazarus were on call.

Walking around Tannie Minnie’s garden, she proudly points out an ancient almond tree planted by Oupa Machiel. Every year the tree still delights her with a profusion of blossoms and an ample supply of almonds. She shows where Oupa’s avenue of quinces and pomegranates had to make way for the garages of the ‘new’ semis he built for his four children.

Like many at that time, they enjoyed the abundant harvest of their orchard: fragrant apricots, several types of juicy plums and Oupa's pièce de résistance, two cherry trees. A rarity in the area, Tannie Minnie couldn’t wait to take bunches of cherries to her teachers at Auckland Park Laerskool – now the Foundation School in 1st Avenue – but she had to wait for Oupa, as only he was allowed to pick the fruit.

Another fond memory is the tram that ran along 4th Avenue. Tannie Minnie still has a book of tram coupons, which show it cost a mere tiekie to travel to Johannesburg city centre.

A social highlight on the weekend was a movie at the Scala bioscope on the corner of 7th Street and 4th Avenue, where sixpence bought one entry, a cool drink, popcorn and chocolates too.

Tannie Minnie is momentarily lost in her happy memories when I ask what she misses most about ‘her’ Melville. Without hesitation, she responds: “The low garden walls and the fact that all the neighbours knew each other.”
This story originally appeared in Suzanne Brenner’s Melville News www.prowritesa.co.za and is used with permission.
Secret Sunrise is a community of inclusion centered around a conscious movement experience. 60 minutes of guided dance and playful movement designed to help you connect have fun and let go! You will be given wireless headphones on arrival and our wacky instructors will guide you through a unique, themed session. 

Secret Sunrise's next session will be in Melville on 11 November 2016 at 06:00. Wireless headphones, freshly pressed juices and delicious coffee will be available to get your day started on the right foot. 

For more information browse their Facebook event.
Melville Koppies
 
If you’ve never visited Melville Koppies you’re in for a big surprise. No Teddy bear picnics, but a walk through the beautiful reserve with guides who will introduce you to some of the natural and cultural wealth of our Joburg Heritage site.

Some nature titbits of the Reserve;  pristine grassveld  dotted with flowers, Protea trees plus 50 other different species of trees, a river running through it,  3-billion- year old rocks. Australopithecines once loped here. Relics of Stone Age and Iron Age man are at the archaeological site.

The Geldenhuys family prospected for gold here – and fortunately failed.

The panoramic views are a WOW factor. Join us for a guided tour or hike. The photo below is of D.F Malan Drive, now Beyers Naude Drive, in the 1960s.


For more info including event calendar/map browse to www.mk.org.za or phone Wendy for reassurance 011 482 4797.
 
Hanret Snyman wrote:
 
"I was blissfully unaware that ‘Friends of Melville Koppies’ is available as a beneficiary on My School Card. For all of us living in the area near the Koppies and concerned about and the general upkeep of the Koppies, I honestly think it is a worthy cause to have ‘Friends of Melville Koppies’ as a beneficiary on My School Card.
 
Besides contributing to ‘Friends of Melville Koppies’ without any additional cost, it is surprisingly quick and easy to change My School Card beneficiaries.
 
And there are many more My School Card partners than just Woolworths. Though not on the list on their website, I know Impala Fruiterers is also a My School Card partner. Herewith the list of partners where your card can be swiped and contributions can go to ‘Friends of Melville Koppies’ -
http://www.myschool.co.za/partners/partner-profiles
 
" My favourite time to walk around Melville is early morning, when everything is just starting to wake up."
I stop at my local coffee shop on the corner.  I love that they know my name.  Skinny cappuccino coming up, they call.  They also know that Ill say no thanks to a croissant but Ill change my mind and buy one anyway.

And then I wander slowly along 7th.  Most of the restaurants are just starting to open.  The workers are washing windows, sweeping the sidewalks, waving hello.  Theres always somebody that I know and we shout good morning to one another. 

Have a groovy day, I call out.

You too, everyone replies.

They carry on sweeping, I carry on walking.  Theres soft music coming out of Poppys and I pause for a minute to chat to Poppy herself.  I ask her a question about her flawless skin and we trade numbers of beauticians. 

Melville is like that. 
It
s a community. 
It
s helpful. 
It
s open.

Im not sure if Poppy knows that I usually help myself to a cookie too, but hey, confession time.  I love the vanilla flavoured ones!

I peer into the windows of the vintage shops and make a mental note to come back and buy the pretty blue sundress.  But I walk quickly past the shop with the Spanish shoes, theyre too gorgeous and Im on a budget right now. 

Whom I kidding, I know Ill be back.

There are always dogs.  I love the two old bulldogs that hang outside the other corner cafe while their owner gets his morning coffee.  And I feel especially attached to Ruby the sausage dog who goes to quiz night at Nunos on a Tuesday.  Shes very attentive although Im not sure how good her general knowledge is.

Melville starts getting busier. 

By 11 am everything is buzzing.  There are divine places to eat and while I used to have my favourites, I can
t anymore.  The choice is too wide.  Mexican, Italian, Indian, South African, North African, delicious, more delicious, hipsters, families, the guys whove been around forever, the new, the shiny, young, old, gay, straight, South African, not South African, groovy, romantic, theres a bit of everything and its all seriously fabulous.

Even the tourists are cool, buying arts and crafts from the wire-sellers on the corners.  They do make amazing sculptures, by the way.

Its not all about eating and shopping though.  The cafes that offer free Wi-fi are fabulous and busy, everyone on their computers, heads down, working, networking and mostly just Facebooking!  Its sometimes a bit hard to focus, the Moroccan iced tea, backgammon and carrot cake are a little distracting.

I walk home. 

The car guards are out now (they
re late risers) and after a few years in Melville Ive learned that theyre doing a job and theyre here to help us.  I know Kabelos life story, he knows mine.  He looks out for people in Melville, we look out for him.  And while some of the other car guards have caused furious debates between people, theyre in Melville trying to do a job.  It helps to learn their names, to say hi and engage.

Right now Melville is beautiful. 

The Jacarandas are in full bloom, we
ve had rain and even the grumpy newspaper seller is smiling.  I usually spend the day at home but often wander down again in the evening.  The bars are buzzing; some of them have been here forever.  I wave to Johann, I wave to Ebrahim, I wave to Kardo and also the tattoo guys. I do buy the blue sundress and I find it impossible not to buy the Spanish shoes.

Melville has an astonishing community.  Its not just Seventh Street; its the whole neighbourhood.  The vegetables that are shared, the tea that is made, the way we come together to help one another.  I know it sounds corny but the best thing about our hood is the diversity, the friendliness, the camaraderie and the connection.

Were one suburb where we seem to live side by side without too much bullshit.

I love it.























 
Photo taken on 9th Street
by Bromley Cawood
























Photo taken on 1st Avenue
by Eric van Gils
Article by Melville resident, Sandra Caganoff
The eating business.

Often in  a position to brag to Cape Town about what Joburg has in terms of eateries, I know the place that really dumbfounds them is Melville (oh and Maboneng). How can so many best-ofs come from such a small place (in our case)?

Many residents aren't even aware of the enormity of our eating business. Other people from and outside South Africa who come to Melville to do their eating and spend their money are well aware of what we have, what we have as capital.

We've got the places that know a comfortable recipe for success and don't mess with it. They have happy regulars. Let's count: Cuppa Cafe; Picobella; Philadelphia Cheese; Satkar; Bambanani; Cafe Mexicho; De la Creme; Six; Buzz 9 and Ratz; The Turkish restaurant; Poppies; Nuno and Xai Xai. Maybe the coffee places at Hunter Cycles and Rubi Roastery are up here too.

And we have the places that offer something, whatever it may be, sometimes just one amazing aspect, like ultra-service or culinary magic that is extraordinary, knocks the socks off. Usually it is something sought after by those outsiders-in-the-know more than insiders, something individualistic, even a bit risky in terms of the restaurant's own business sometimes. These are the mould-breakers, the standard-setters and they're the ones that seem to worry Capetonians most.

Let's count: The Leopard, The Countess, XO Patisserie, Lucky Bean, The Great Eastern Food Bar, the Service Station, Bread and Roses, The Ant, La Luna, The Federal, Piera Deli (currently moving from the Boxes to 7th St), Hell's Kitchen, La Santa Muerte, Pablo Eggs. Remember this is not so much about our agreeing or not - it's what avid eaters have already detected. And it doesn't even include places that haven't yet been endorsed on the food map and may be new eg an eatery in the glass box on 7th St, something &Gin in 4th Avenue and a hookah place opposite, plus some other spots in Main Road.

Both kinds of eating businesses contribute a fabulous benefit to Melville. It's a concentration of places that have something in common and marketers love that. It's the opportunity to capitalise. If we want to. Or others want to. It's here in all its obviousness.

Meantime, personally, we can take advantage of what we already have. If we went out to eat at a new (for us) Melville place every week, it'd take us more than half a year to discover a secret other South Africans already know. We have what many envy - a concentration of great eating choices, many of them unique.
The Eating Business by Marie-Lais Emond
Melville Has Its Mojo Back
 
I sit on the stoep of the Xai or Nuno’s in Melville. I sit there every day for 17 years. I see how things go. I see sometimes they go down. Then I see them go worse, but since I sit there every day, I see them all. I see them go up and up now.
 
I sit on any stoep in Melville and say: “This is what South Africa can be. This is what SA should be: Integrated to a common cause of being a community and loving the individual strands as much as the tapestry it creates.”

When I first came to Melville at the end of 1999, people were negative about the suburb. “It’s going the way of Yeoville,” they would tell me darkly in bars. They based their forecast solely on the rather racist premise that once the Rand Afrikaans University became the University of Johannesburg (UJ) the neighbourhood would go to the dogs.

They were wrong of course, but it has to be said that from 2000 to 2006 Melville did go through a rough patch and the UJ students did wreak havoc without really intending to, as students do. What happened was that some owners of 7th street bars started playing music very loudly to attract the new and expanding market.

The students did come and in great numbers but not to drink or party in the bars. Think like a student for a moment. Why would you pay a bar premium when you can drink from your boot in the street while you favourite music plays loudly from virtually every bar in the street as bar owners crank up the volume to attract your custom? You wouldn’t.

However, you would give them your custom in the form of asking for water when the Ecstacy made you thirsty or when you need their toilet facilities to puke in late at night. The net effect of the loud music that turned 7th Street into a Soweto street party was that the paying customers fled the suburb for Greenside or Parkhurst and Melville got a very bad reputation for crime, because many unsavoury characters used the students as cover for their dastardly deeds.

The years from 2004 through to the nadir in 2006/7 were bad for crime everywhere in Johannesburg, even earning the city the dubious and false distinction of being ‘the most dangerous city in the world’. However, crime in Melville got more than its fair share of media coverage, tarnishing the image of the suburb even further. The reason for the greater coverage was twofold. Firstly, because it was the ‘once trendy suburb of Melville’ and, secondly because it is home to many journalists of all stripes and colours.

The net effect of that was that more people fled the suburb, muttering dark things along the line of ‘it’s becoming just like Yeoville’ about it in other ‘safer’ suburbs. Things were bad, really bad, but not that bad. (I even got shot in my bed two days before Christmas in 2006, but that’s a different story.)

Something had to give and so something did give. Clearly, the bars that played the loud music couldn’t sustain themselves by dispensing water and music and receiving vomit in return. It is a poor business plan and they started closing down one after the other, culminating in Melville almost becoming a ghost town in 2008 with the worldwide economic meltdown, which ironically saved Melville from itself.

The annual pro forma 10% increase in rentals was no longer sustainable because Melville was no longer a ‘trendy’ suburb, at least in the minds of many. To them it is downright dangerous and they still refuse to come here. I know this because they told me so in places like Sandton, Parkhurst and Greenside. It’s their loss and when I finally convince them to come, they are invariably pleasantly surprised, but I digress.

Some well-run establishments did survive both the student mayhem and the economic downturn and continue to do so today. Places like the Xai Xai Lounge, Six, Ratz, Buzz Nine and the like are actually thriving, if one looks at the cars their owners drive at least. There are about 26 establishments you can choose from in Melville’s 4th Avenue and 7th Street alone. They range from sedate fine dining to raucous bars and they’re all ‘safe’.

There is something for all tastes and I cannot begin to describe them all. I’ll stick to those I think would be of interest to the business traveller who wants a bit more from his or her business trip than just sitting in an overpriced room in a Sandton hotel playing with the many pillows on the bed because the streets outside are grimly deserted or the hotel is in a shopping mall that closes down at 6pm!
Diverse Melville: A boulevardier, two soap stars Yutame Kroezem and Odelle de Wet, and a Namibian technocrat, Anton Faul 
Apart from the usual Indian, Chinese and sushi one can expect to find in a place like Melville, fine dining can be had at Piccobella (Italian fusion) and the Leopard (Asian fusion) in 4th Avenue and Lucky Bean (South African fusion) and La Luna (Italian fusion). These days you can also dine deliciously at Hell’s Kitchen, The Federal and Pablo Eggs-Go-Bar.

For the more budget conscious, there is nothing wrong with the straightforward Portuguese fare on offer at Nuno’s and the Xai Xai. Feeling like a little more than just eating and hitting the sack? Let’s hit the bars then because Melville is a vibrant and inviting place where it is almost impossibly easy to strike up a conversation with a stranger in a bar.

It is part of the ethos of Johannesburg, almost its raison d’etre. People come here to do business and to do business you often have to speak to strangers and nowhere more so than in Melville. So let’s pub crawl through Melville.

We’ll go to Melville’s oldest existing (pick-up) bar first, Ratz. Okay, so Ratz has turned a bit too gay for your taste, let’s go to Buzz Nine then. Ditto? No problem, I’m sure you’ll find your joy at Six across the road. The demographics there are mostly coloured and for a more black demographic, you can go next door to Liquid Blue where they also still serve a mean Martini.

Need a bit more diversity? Well, then you can do no better than head for the Xai as the regulars there call it. It must be one of the most diverse bars in the world. There, you can easily find yourself talking to a judge, a lovely Dutch wild dog geneticist, an adorable American drug-resistant TB researcher, a punk rocker, a former member of MK, a far leftwing unionist (or two), an anarchist theorist and any number of ‘freelancers’, which is Melville’s euphemism for being unemployed. The list is endless and you can think of any occupation or age and race group, chances are that you will find somebody like that at the Xai.

As for accommodation, there are more than of guesthouses and BnBs to choose from. Their prices range from R300 to R12 00 but whatever it is, it is likely to be less than in Sandton for the same number of pillows on the same quality of bed and it’s all perfectly safe.

To conclude, recently I chatted to one Candice Ward at the Xai. Candice is a spunky 24-year-old veterinary assistant, (it’s the Xai, remember) who hails from Elandsdrift, near Lanseria. She told me that it took her two years of living in Johannesburg (albeit in Elandsdrift) before she scraped the courage together to come to Melville for the first time three weeks ago. Ever since, she told me, she cannot stay away.

“There must be something in the water in Melville,” she says and while I’m inclined to agree with her hypothesis, I’m not sure if anyone in Melville actually drinks water, but one thing is sure,

Melville has its mojo back.
Article by Charles Visser
aka #MyMelville's very own UberChuck
#MyMelville Community
 
The views expressed in this newsletter are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Melville Residents' Association or its Committee.

Copyright © 2016 Melville Residents' Association, All rights reserved.
 






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Melville Residents' Association · Melville · Johannesburg, Gauteng 2109 · South Africa

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