EAST COAST EXPLOSION
Long overlooked as SA’s third-biggest city, Durban’s experiencing a construction boom that’s set to see it assert itself as a leading investment destination
While it remains the top domestic tourism destination with its warm beaches, lush greenery and spicy local cuisine, Durban has historically struggled to prevent its professionals and entrepreneurs from leaving for more profitable pastures in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The good news for those wanting to enjoy the pleasures of their hometown while developing their careers is that there are a select few developments cropping up around the greater Durban area, earmarked to unlock new economic potential in the region.
These include the R35 billion Durban Point Waterfront Development, a joint venture with the Malaysian Durban Point Development Company. The project kicked off earlier this year with a R300 million, six-precinct face-lift to the city’s iconic promenade and will involve various developments including a mall, a residential complex and a hotel. When completed over the next five to 10 years, according to Mayor Zandile Gumede, it will raise property prices in the area and beleaguered CBD, while contributing billions of rands to the GDP.
In a massive boon to the city’s creatives, the long-envisaged R7 billion eThekwini
Film City was finally given the green light earlier this year after land ownership challenges involving rival businessmen and the SA National Defence Force were overcome. The development on the old
Natal Command site will reportedly include studios, a hotel, residential units and a movie-themed retail development. The initiative is the brainchild of South African super-producer and Video Vision head honcho Anant Singh.
“We’ll be launching a major project on the Natal Command site and all production activities will be run from there. The project, which was budgeted at over R100 million, will generate numerous opportunities in the film sector and, importantly, will create more than 5 000 jobs,” says Singh, who owns a 50% stake in the Cape Town Film Studios and aims to enjoy similar success with the Durban-based studio precinct.
“This project will not only benefit the film industry, but a multitude of related industries as well, thereby making a positive impact on the city’s economy.”
Perhaps the most intriguing project on the horizon in Durban, however, is the massive Ntshongweni urban development being undertaken by agricultural group Tongaat-Hulett (also responsible for the Dube Tradeport) near the N3 highway in the city’s outer western region.
According to the group, the overall vision and framework plan of Ntshongweni are to integrate the development opportunities with what already exists in this underserved area.
The first phase of the 2 000ha project is expected to create 19 000 construction jobs. Over the next 20 years, Ntshongweni’s expected to generate 400 000 temporary construction jobs, 35 000 permanent jobs, R700 million in annual rates for the eThekwini Municipality and R5,1 billion in annual tax revenue.
Individual projects within Ntshongweni will be undertaken by independent developers who’ll be guided by a big-picture vision for the area. A new regional shopping centre will form an integrated central core, connecting the retail component of the development to the surrounding community. There’ll also be residential, logistics, recreational, warehousing and leisure components, as well as 1 000ha of open space for recreational use.
“All development rights are in place and we officially have the go-ahead to break ground in the first quarter of 2019,” says Tongaat-Hulett MD Michael Deighton.
“The new urban core will offer residents shopping and leisure opportunities currently only available through expensive and timeconsuming travel.”
DID YOU KNOW?
While the demand for infrastructure in Africa is rising, only 4% of the continent’s GDP is invested in this crucial area, compared with China’s 14% investment. According to the African Development Bank, “bridging the infrastructure gap could increase GDP growth by an estimated two percentage points”.