Adam Levy

Property Entrepreneur

If looking out of Adam Levy's glass-walled apartment on Smit Street in Braamfontein doesn't leave you in love with Jozi, nothing will. The light-filled, uncluttered space is pinned above the city skyline between the Nelson Mandela Bridge and the older Queen Elizabeth Bridge, with a prime view over Park Station, the railway lines and the looming towers of the CBD. Levy trained as a lawyer, but, by his own admission, is a frustrated architect. And he loves the city � particularly Braamfontein. Reviving the district, which began with the purchase of the Smit Street building in 2003, has become an all-consuming passion for him. But he's loath to be referred to as a property developer. "The word has been sullied by the way people have done it in this town,� he says. "This isn't about pillaging; it's about transformation, it's about effecting change.� He is the first to admit that his vision for rejuvenating Braamfontein is not necessarily shared with the City of Jo'burg and its administration. Levy is a vociferous critic of the city's management, which, he believes, has not delivered on its promises to redevelop the inner city properly, or, when strides have been made, to maintain the improvements. But he is determined to keep creating what he terms "spaces of aspiration� within Braamfontein. Levy refurbished the beautiful old building across the road from his apartment block ; painted a merry, eye catching green, it is home to the Cafe De La Vie. In 2006, Levy began the redevelopment of the Alexander Theatre, which had been closed for a decade, but now operates as a live music venue. And earlier this year he bought the Milner Park Hotel, with its century-old bar, Kitchener's Carvery, increasingly popular with Jozi's cultural and music underground. Behind his home at 70 on Juta, Levy is completing work on a redevelopment that will see the creation of 10 new retail spaces and five new creative offi ce units. "We've got to be hopeful, we've got to be positive. There are amazing people here, they need to be looked after,� he says. "We need great, young, renewed leadership. We need people to stand up and say we want to do it differently.� � Lynley Donnelly