Get to know Melville’s 27 Boxes

We all know Melville as one of Johannesburg’s social hubs, but City Buzz bets that you didn’t know the history of the hangouts frequented by students and young professionals.

From Café Mexicho, to Six bar, to Hell’s Kitchen restaurant, to Freedom Hair salon and everything in between, Melville has become a popular hotspot for many different types of characters in the city.

Recently, 27 Boxes took Melville by storm by introducing a completely new concept to the retail shopping experience.

The shopping mall, made predominantly from shipping containers, stands on a site that was for years known as Faan Smit Park.

According to Gauteng Tourism blog, Dinokeng, property company Citiq’s chief executive officer Paul Lapham saw a unique opportunity to revolutionise retail by creating the centre using 68 containers to create 78 stores, but what was more interesting than their revolutionary plan was to keep the history of the park that once stood there alive.

Citiq noted that since the establishment of Melville at the end of the 19th century after a portion of the Braamfontein township was leased to create the suburb, the park was created in 1911 in an effort to beautify the area.

According to Citiq, Faan Smit Park was also known as Melville Park No. 2 and later became Athlone Park and finally, in 1953, was renamed Faan Smit Park.

After the Johannesburg Property Company took ownership of the park from City Parks, which was in turn taken over by Joburg Artists Market, all in the space of two decades, it had become a destitute location and a haven for vagrants and the undesirable members of society.

From the 80s, the park’s ownership hung in a space of uncertainty and was passed on from one company to the next until it was officially closed in 2008.

The neglected space was ideal for Citiq and in 2013, after acquiring the property, the company began conceptualising and later working on what is now known as 27 Boxes.

Details: 27 Boxes on Facebook

Racine Edwardes

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