The greater Umhlanga commercial/mixed development space continues to grow in both sophistication and property. While other similar nodes in the country consolidate or taper off, Umhlanga development seem to be on track.
Recently property developer Vejan Pillay’s Misty Blue Investments launched its 6th major development in 10 years. The development is a multimillion-rand residential development nick-named ‘Central Park’.
Central Park is situated besides the landmark Umhlanga Porsche dealership and another of Pillay’s projects, the R150million Urban Park mixed use development near the Parkside precinct.
It’s clear that the focus in the last few years has been the development in front of Gateway and around Parkside, but these developments of Pillay’s are likely to be a catalyst for development around the Porsche dealership which overlooks the N2. Direct access to this location from the highway is planned and includes a new interchange.
Central Park is to be developed over two phases: phase one will be made up of 177 residential units hugging a park area with a running track. Other features include an in-door pool and the uniquely designed vehicle access to apartments feature.
This all comes on the heels of the recently opened mixed use Urban Park and Spa with its 92 room, four star hotel, 159 residential units with commercial and retail outlets planned for the lower levels. The hotel is situated on the corner of Meridian Drive and Umhlanga Ridge Boulevard. The hotel is managed by the Durban based Three Cities Group that manages The Square Boutique Hotel also developed by Misty Blue.
The word on the street is that there is still a huge demand for residential flats in the area, the twist is that it is estimated that up to 60% of the buyers are investor buyers looking to rent out the properties.
On the horizon, and expected to be completed by mid-2014, is the Gateway Private Hospital. Construction has begun already on the corner of Aurora Drive and Umhlanga Ridge Boulevard within the Umhlanga Ridge New Town Centre. The 160 bed hospital will be equipped with six theatres, an ICU and high care facilities. The focus will be on high-end specialties. A casualty, pharmacy and various out-patient facilities are to be included.
Beacon Rock is another development recently opened, situated at the entrance to Umhlanga Village. The mixed use building offers a variety of top brand restaurants as well as a Mini, Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin showrooms. There are also 24 luxury apartments with exquisite sea views.
You can’t keep the town down; Umhlanga remains a force to be reckoned with in the greater Durban landscape.
Old Mutual like any business, is in business to make profits. To what degree any business should express some sort of social conscience may be indicated by the community it does business in. In South Africa every company is under pressure to have (CSI) Corporate Social Investment programmes indicating a social conscience and a willingness to be part of social change.
Old Mutual Property, owners of Gateway Shopping Centre, announced on the 31st January “continues to look for innovative ways in which to make valuable contributions to sustainable community development and township upliftment.” This is referring, in particular, to the redevelopment of the Kagiso Mall in Mogale City.
This isn’t the first time Old Mutual Properties have done successful revamps of late. A few years back they were awarded the Golden Arrow Award for the revamp of the Riverside Mall in Nelspruit and awards were also won for the revamp of The Bluff Shopping Centre.
Kagiso is a township falling under the Mogale City municipality. The mall was an old 1980’s white elephant with poor occupancy rates. The shopping centre had become irrelevant to the community. Although the anchor tenant, Shoprite remained, a further 9200sqm of retail has been created, about 50 shops including late-night fast-food outlets.
Old Mutual Property’s Hein Smit believes this is “a sustainable contribution to the environment and township communities, which enables wider socio-economic upliftment.” He insists that the sustainability is all in the design which includes “utilising local skills and expertise in the development phase, re-usable building materials (which are donated to the local community if not used in the new development), rainwater harvesting, low energy lighting and improved insulation specifications.”
If one is looking for Old Mutual Property’s track record there is always the Phanghami Mall which took advantage of a more decentralised retail development area servicing 8 townships and various surrounding villages. Close to the Punda Maria gate of Kruger National Park it has a tourism component to the project. Aspects of community upliftment in the construction and management of the centre were considered vital to the scheme. R75 Million was invested.
Similarly Phumlani Mall in Tembisa on the East Rand was bought for R175 Million and revamped with the purpose of uplifting the community. With a reported tenant mix of 75% National chains one hopes there is something still in for local retail.
As commendable as these projects may be one has to consider them in the light of other projects on the go elsewhere. For example Old Mutual Properties has announced that it plans to invest a whopping R20 Billion in a “Town Centre” project focused on the Gautrain station in Midrand comprising 350 hectares of land. Old Mutual Property also has Rosebank’s The Zone in its quiver. This year the plan is to add an office tower in Rosebank to the budgeted tune of R340 Million.
Throw in R2 Billion rand to be spent on revitalising Menlyn this year it’s interesting to note that Old Mutual Property’s property portfolio is bordering on R35Billion 70% weighed on retail, 10% around offices with the balance in industrial premises. One doesn’t want to detract from the good work done in the name of Corporate Social Investment but we may to keep a little perspective before feeling all warm and fuzzy.