Durban's Point Waterfront - Opportunity knocks

A mix of residential, shopping, office and hotel complexes may attract investment of R6bn

Cranes against the skyline indicate that the long-awaited Point Waterfront is fast transforming a derelict precinct into a multibillion-rand property showcase.

Anchored by the R720m uShaka Marine World, which has attracted more than 1m visitors since 2004, medium-term planning for the 45 ha Point precinct includes residential, shopping, office and hotel complexes.

Though the area has 1,4 km of sea frontage, it has long been an under utilised asset.

Durban Point Development Co manager Colin Sher says many new residential developments have opened: Point Bastille, a renovated former jail; Dock Point, for which 25 Edwardian houses were restored; and The Quays on Timeball, whose apartments have fetched an average of R2,2m.

"The Point is becoming an important addition to the city and a place to live, work and play," says Sher, who estimates it will attract investment of close on R6bn.

In April, the first section of the deep-water canal was officially opened and construction has begun on phase two.

Neels Brink, MD of Metallon Properties, project directors for the Point Waterfront, says this 50 m section will hold 1 900 m³ of sea water. A drawbridge will separate deep and shallow water sections for an array of craft.

Durban properties are trading at a significant discount to comparable cities internationally. Sher says the precinct offers luxury apartments at R22 000/m² against the R33 000 being asked on the Umhlanga Ridge.

The R55m Quaywest Hotel has not yet come to market. With ground-floor restaurant facilities, it will be sold on a sectional title basis, consist of 20 two-bedroom apartments and be managed by Three Cities Hotels.

Other developments in the pipeline are the R400m Shaka's Gate, with 220 apartments and penthouses; and Sails on Timeball, which will occupy two prime canal-fronting sites and consist of luxury apartments, shops and restaurants, office space and a four-star hotel.

Even if property prices cool down, the Point should still appreciate in value since there is a finite number of properties in the waterfront environment.

Article by: Nicola Jenvey - http://free.financialmail.co.za/