DURBAN - THE eThekwini Municipality is in desperate need of cash and has pinned its hopes on several projects to increase its rates base, create jobs and generate revenue.
It is therefore proceeding with seeking an “expression of interest” from investors to develop the Virginia Airport and Gugu Dlamini Centrum sites.
The municipality said in a report tabled last month that its executive management structures had authorised the Economic Development Cluster to proceed with the process of seeking an “expression of interest” from potential private investors for the sites.
The municipality wants to redevelop Virginia Airport into a viable mixed-use node, which would include high-end residential, tourism and leisure elements. Between 2012 and 2019, the city resolved to undertake feasibility studies on the site.
The plans to redevelop the site have faced criticism from some tenants who use the site for aviation purposes.
Attempts to reach some of the operators this week were unsuccessful.
The report said: “In light of the financial situation of the city caused by Covid-19 and the civil unrest, the city’s executive management structures have authorised the Economic Development Cluster to proceed with the process of seeking an “expression of interest” from potential private investors for the re-development of Virginia Airport.
“The project must be privately funded to be a financially viable and sustainable venture,” said the report.
It said at a meeting on March 31 last year, the council gave authority to proceed with a tender process.
The Mercury reported last April that the city planned to forge ahead with the development despite opposition.
The municipality also said that it planned to move ahead with the development of the Durban Centrum site, issuing an “expression of interest”.
The Centrum site plan entails a mixed-use precinct, a basement parking garage with public service buildings, integrated with high-density residential, hotel, retail and commercial development.
It is expected that this site will complement the central business district while trying to preserve the city’s heritage in terms of its historic buildings. The total investment value is R9.4 billion and will provide 3 350 construction jobs and 1 350 permanent jobs with an annual rates contribution of R67 million.
DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said the prime Virginia Airport site should be strategically developed to generate revenue for the city.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said the party supported the project as an initiative to create jobs.
EFF councillor Thabani Miya said while the party’s caucus had not taken a position on the matter, it supported development projects.