Jobs boost as city hit by mini building boom

East London is in the grip of a mini “building boom” with office parks and housing complexes being built all over town.

On a drive through the suburbs, the Daily Dispatch noticed the following:

  • Affordable housing is going up at the corner of Amalinda main road and Oxford Street;
  • A mixed-use – commercial and residential – building is being built in Berea on Chamberlain Road;
  • New Designer Gold premises are being built on Pearce Street;
  • A 3 000m² office block is under construction on the corner of Pearce Street and the North East Expressway; and
  • A sign and bulldozers are precursors to another office park – Valley View – just outside Abbotsford.

There is also a flurry of roadworks under way outside Beacon Bay near the new Ronnie’s Motors premises; cranes and scaffolding surround the South African Reserve Bank building in central East London; and at Checkers Nahoon, renovations at the car park have been ongoing.

“The market has definitely picked up, as seen in both residential property and developments under construction in the greater East London area,” said RE/MAX CEO Adrian Goslett yesterday.

“There has been increased interest from buyers in developments … after weathering a tough financial time where only the best agents survived, signs that building work has started again signal a return to business as usual,” Goslett said.

For Buffalo City Municipality spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya, this mini building boom bodes well for the future of the city.

“Development in the city can be linked to a number of factors, namely improvement in the economy, supply and demand and, most definitely, confidence in the city,” he said.

“It means that the private sector is convinced of the vision of the city and believes that, indeed, we not only have the will and the potential, but also the strategies to achieve such.

"It means that we are investor-friendly and have created a good environment for development to happen.”

Hanlie Bassingthwaighte, area principal of Pam Golding Properties East London, said she expected more office buildings to be erected in the Pearce Street area as demand dictates.

Ngwenya said BCM took into account the potential impact development would have on the city’s infrastructure.

“Service delivery directorates have to give informed input into any applications for development, be it for densification, redevelopment or expansion,” he said.

“At this stage we determine whether the infrastructure has capacity or whether augmentations or renewals are required.

"Cost implications are then determined and the source of funding secured.”

Ngwenya added that another challenge that comes with growth, is the influx that follows a developing city where people relocate from rural areas to seek opportunities in the city.

“This creates challenges around housing and general service delivery aspects,” he said.

However, these challenges are offset by the benefits building brings.

“Any investment in the city promotes confidence that naturally expands and employment is then naturally promoted.

"For the city, this is extremely important because if additional permanent employment can be generated it positively affects the unemployment statistics as well as income to the municipality in terms of rates and payment for services.”

Ngwenya added that development had other immeasurable spinoffs, including creating a sense of pride in city residents.

Border-Kei Chamber of Business chief executive Les Holbrook said the number of construction sites around the city was partly a sign of confidence, as well as a response to the massive housing backlog.

There is a concern that the new buildings may cause an already stretched infrastructure system to strain, but Holbrook said town planning would not allow developments in areas that have a moratorium on building or developments.

“Having said this, there is an increasing burden on the infrastructure to support developments of a broad nature.

"The city certainly needs new investment in capital infrastructure – including water, sanitation, effluent and refuse removal.”

A huge benefit of the “building boom” was in the jobs created in construction.

“The additional jobs these developments provide is very timeous,” Holbrook said.

“After Hemingways Mall was completed everyone was worried where the next jobs would come from.

"Obviously, the local suppliers also benefit from such developments.”

Source: Daily Dispatch

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