"Hottest development town in KZN" - Amanzimtoti
Boom times are ahead for the South Coast, with Amanzimtoti being hailed as the area's "hottest" development town.
For, as development on the North Coast reaches saturation point, investors and property buyers are now turning their attention southwards.
There has already been an exceptional demand for residential property in what is known as the "frontier market" of Amanzimtoti this year, and one estate agency alone is now planning and building five new developments, four of them executive and luxury apartments and cabanas.
Potential buyers have also become disillusioned by the unrealistic prices of the North Coast, say estate agents.
"The first signs of an economic boom are evident," said Newcastle's Robert Needham, the group chief executive of Prodigy, a firm of specialist development economists who had the vision to see what local developers failed to spot and who are now developing a unique Amanzimtoti site.
And at the launch of the residential Esebeni Eco Estate (Esebeni means "At the River's Edge"), on the banks of the Amanzimtoti River - the first upmarket eco development on the South Coast - on Tuesday night.
Needham said that the relocation of Durban International Airport to La Mercy would also change the face of the South Industrial Basin, opening up the area for industrial and commercial development, creating more jobs and spending power and boosting residential demands.
Development opportunities would open up for the South Coast, and he predicted this would take place from Amanzimtoti down to Hibberdene in the next 10 years.
Needham recalled how he and his business partner, Dr Otto Nel, had first visited the 2,02ha site of the well-known, but old and decaying River Gardens Hotel, next to the Amanzimtoti River.
While the site was densely invaded with alien vegetation, it was also occupied by magnificent indigenous trees, particularly wild fig and forest mahogany.
The site is opposite Ilanda Wilds and near the rock where Shaka sat and drank from the river, declaring that the water was sweet (this is how Amanzimtoti got its name).
They bought the site, knocked down the hotel and began planning the sectional title estate, with environmentalist Dr Graeme Slade telling Tuesday night's guests that "it is a sensitive site that will be sensitively developed".
There will be "minimal environmental disturbance" with as many trees being preserved as possible. A massive Natal Fig tree with a trunk diameter of more than one metre has been maintained.
The double-storey homes - work is due to begin immediately - are being set further back to avoid interference with the tree canopy.
And the prices? A third of what they would be on the North Coast, investors were told.
The launch price ranges from R1,2-million to R2,2-million - and by the end of the evening, 19 of them had been spoken for.
Deputy Mayor Logie Naidoo, chairperson of the city's economic development committee, praised the developers for their vision and their environmental concerns at the "magnificent" site.
Article by: Barbara Cole