The purpose of this article is to examine the urban visions articulated in two large projects in Johannesburg. Using the Corridors of Freedom project, led by the Johannesburg metropolitan municipality, and Modderfontein, initiated by a Shanghai-based developer, we show that the intention of large projects varies significantly despite often similar rhetoric. We show also that the actors and interests involved are more diverse than may initially appear, and that the outcomes are less certain than the confident public pronouncements suggest. Each project promises to make a distinct and positive impact on the morphology of the city, with the Corridors of Freedom project attempting to densify and diversify urban use along transit corridors through a long-term process of encouraging transformation within existing areas of the city. Modderfontein, by contrast, is intended as one of the largest privately-led residential, commercial and industrial developments in South Africa and would occur on previously undeveloped land. Both projects speak languages of sustainability and of inclusion, although neither is likely to address the housing needs of the poorest populations in Gauteng Province. The article underscores the sometimes arbitrary uptake of these projects into policy frameworks at different levels of government. With the Gauteng provincial government having defined megaprojects in terms of new cities, it enthusiastically endorsed Modderfontein, and left Corridors of Freedom somewhat outside of its initial frame of interest.