Sites near Durban Waterfront selling fast
As more and more "sold" signs go up at the apartments under construction at Durban's Point Waterfront, sceptics who said the development would never happen have fallen silent.
Now what was once the city's most derelict and barren land - yet a prime site - is being hailed as a "property investment of unparalleled importance."
"We predicted an explosion in the property market and now everyone wants to come to the Point and enjoy it," said Durban's Deputy Mayor Logie Naidoo, who is also the chairperson of the city's economic development committee.
The sales campaign was launched just two years ago and about 75 percent of all the residential apartments on offer have already been sold.
Briefing a gathering of banking, property and media guests on the progress of the landmark development, he said the 14 mixed-use developments (apartments, offices, restaurants and shops in various stages of planning and construction) were going up, representing what is happening in the country today and the way that the economy is taking off.
"This is one of South Africa's most promising real estate developments," he said. "It is part of the municipality's long-term strategy to stimulate the economic recovery of Durban, once viewed by some as a 'backwater'."
But those perceptions were now changing and one VIP guest at the briefing, Professor Erwin Rode, one of the country's foremost property economists, predicted that the Point Waterfront would "do for Durban what the V&A Waterfront has done for Cape Town".
It, too, would become a prime tourist destination for the region. What's more, its influence would radiate to other beachfront areas, which would also be upgraded.
The trigger for the Point Waterfront - at the entrance to Africa's busiest port - by the Durban Point Development Company (the municipality and Rocpoint are shareholders) was the development of the neighbouring world-class R735-million uShaka Marine World, which has changed the face of tourism in the region. It had welcomed 1,2 million visitors by the time it celebrated its first birthday.
The impact of that attraction and the Point Waterfront has already seen a 300 percent jump in property values in South Beach.
Naidoo told guests that the development, with its canal system, would become a "unique waterfront city within a city."
The water reticulation and purification system at uShaka - its lifeline - involved taking water for the tanks from the sea. After being filtered for the marine life, it is returned to the sea via the canals.
Water taxis will eventually ply the canals, which are expected to become a big drawcard for tourists. There may even be a floating stage near Timeball Square, the entertainment area.
While the project had initially taken time to get going, it is now going up faster than expected.
The first high-rise development - Harbour View Heights with 55 apartments and five penthouses and with shops on the ground floor - will be finished in October. Another luxury building, The Quays, which boasts six two-storey penthouses, is due to be completed in December.
And 27 former dock workers' houses that have been upgraded will soon be offered for sale.
Negotiations are under way for a shopping centre and a five-star hotel.
The R1,5-billion project to widen and deepen the harbour will begin in 2007, eventually making other sites available and creating further opportunities for new beachfront hotels.
The hope is that these will be finished in time for the Soccer World Cup in 2010.
Article by: Barbara Cole