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

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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”.

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