Tongaat to sell chunk of prime land

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Independent Newspapers.

An aerial view of the R12-billion Ridgeside precinct being developed by Tongaat Hulett in uMhlanga. A 42 hectare piece of land in the zone is to be sold next year.

In an unprecedented move, JSE-listed sugar and property giant Tongaat Hulett is to put a 42-hectare section of prime land in its booming uMhlanga Ridgeside precinct up for sale in a single transaction early next year.

The company said that the uMhlanga Ridge node had attracted more than R50 billion in investment since the start of land conversion from sugar cane to property development 17 years ago.

At present 164 000m², with an investment value of more than R3.6bn, was under construction.

Now Tongaat Hulett wants to “accelerate the pace of development in Durban”, hence its decision to release such a large piece of land in the R12bn Ridgeside development on to the market.

The site is zoned for mixed-use development, including commercial, retail, office, residential, hotel and leisure uses.

Peter Staude, Tongaat Hulett’s chief executive, said yesterday that the timing was right for the mega-property transaction “to maximise investment and further increase the pace of development in the region”.

“It will build on the investment platform created.”

Mike Deighton, a property executive at Tongaat Hulett, said the transaction would allow a single investor or consortium to establish a real estate asset base in Ridgeside, which was the most sought-after location in KwaZulu-Natal.

“This is a good opportunity,” he said.

“We want to unlock value by creating the opportunity for a major development that will be in the best interest of the city – one that will spur growth and boost the city’s rates base.”

The 140ha precinct, between Gateway and uMhlanga Village, was launched five years ago.

Deighton said that the 42ha site being sold was part of the 62ha remaining in Ridgeside.

The transaction formed part of Tongaat Hulett’s new mega-property transaction approach, intended to boost market competition and contribute to greater economic growth and investment in Durban.

It was aimed at luring large national and international property players to invest in the city.

Deighton said that compared with other major cities, Durban had been “constrained” in prime property investment in recent years.

Nationally, the mega-property transaction approach has been successfully undertaken in a number of instances, most notably Waterfall in Midrand and the V&A Waterfront and Century City in Cape Town.

Deighton would not be drawn on the price that Tongaat Hulett could get for the land.

He said, however, that the node was realising some of the highest commercial land prices in KZN. Bulk development sites were going for between R3 000 and R4 000 a square metre.

Andrew Layman, the chief executive of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the sale would provide impetus for development.

“From Durban’s economic point of view it is encouraging to see the probability of investment on such a scale,” he said.

Edwin van Niekerk, KZN chairman of the SA Property Owners’ Association, said the move could stimulate growth north of Durban.

“If this does happen and we get a mega development there, then it can only be good for the industry and Durban.” - The Mercury

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