It’s a Friday afternoon in downtown Joburg’s Maboneng Precinct, and a colourful throng of people is filling the outdoor seats of restaurants and bars. Young professionals are decompressing over a post-work glass of wine, and students are sinking into what might be their fourth beer. Among the diverse crowd, the only common denominator is a carefree vibe — everyone seems to be having a good time. It’s a scene that wouldn’t have been imaginable in downtown Joburg until five or six years ago. Once an abandoned area fraught with crime, Maboneng has become a thriving inner-city hub — and the most dynamic part of town. The area has evolved substantially over the past decade, but the January ribbon-cutting of Hallmark House, a slick hotel and residential complex, marks a pivotal moment, making this once-downtrodden part of town a prime spot for both locals and overnight travelers. The neighbourhood’s revitalisation is a well-told success story, which comes courtesy of the young entrepreneu...

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