Revamped Mahatma Gandhi Road Precinct attracts investment
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A major revamp of the Mahatma Gandhi Road Precinct is currently underway by the City. The rejuvenation project tackles bad, abandoned or derelict buildings which are being revamped while ploughing millions into various infrastructure upgrades. These strides aim to transform the precinct into a space for investment opportunities.
The revamp is part of a public-private partnership, with both sectors investing to transform the area into a safe zone. The City has committed itself to working with various sectors to eradicate bad buildings.
There are an estimated 80 bad buildings within the inner city, of which 39 buildings are within the Mahatma Gandhi Precinct. Of these, 21 have completed renovations following a mayoral engagement with business and property owners. A block of flats in Trafalgar Lane was demolished in 2019. After the demolition, the owners of another problematic building in the area approached the City for advice to turn around the building.
EThekwini Mayor Councillor Mxolisi Kaunda conducted a walkabout along the Mahatma Gandhi Road Precinct with investors and City officials on May 21 to gauge progress.
He said the area is a strategic location for catalytic development, adding that the City is fast tracking this to stimulate economic growth, international investments, job creation and tourism.
“Work is currently underway to ensure that the precinct meets all these goals. Since we started investing in the upgrade of the area, we have seen a keen interest from investors.”
Some of the work undertaken includes the extension of the promenade, the watermains reticulation project, the public realm upgrade and the success of the problem buildings programme plus foreign direct investment attraction.
As part of the rehabilitation programme, some buildings have been converted into student accommodation with illegal bars and bottle stores closed. This has positively contributed to the upliftment of the surrounding areas.
The City and Malaysian investors have also initiated the R30 billion Point Waterfront Development project that is a public and private sector investment.
Deputy City Manager for Economic Development Phillip Sithole outlined catalytic and foreign investment projects taking place in the area.
He said the R230 million Point Watermains Project provides an upgrade and greater security of water supply for the inner city and for future planned growth. This project is expected to be completed by year end.
“It is estimated that the central business district will grow from 70 000 to 450 000 people and 250 000 work opportunities created by 2040,” he said.
The City is also improving sidewalks, replacing existing paving, realigning stormwater drainage, improving road markings and associated infrastructure with the provision and maintenance of vehicular access to adjacent properties and parkade areas.
Kaunda said the promenade extension, launched in 2019, was a bold statement of spatial transformation by taking a beach node and opening it up to the public. The development will soon fulfil its envisioned goal of attracting investment. Listing economic spin-offs from the promenade extension, Kaunda was pleased that the project delivered on radical economic transformation objectives. Over 40 percent of sub-contracting opportunities benefitted local businesses.
During the Point Precinct tour, officials also visited the new Durban Cruise Terminal construction site. The project is currently underway and is set to make Durban a more desirable destination for cruise ships. The terminal is a vast improvement from Durban’s N-Shed, which had served as a makeshift cruise terminal for many years.
Not only does this boost confidence for local businesses along the precinct and attracts valuable international tourists from cruise liners but the venue can also be used to host workshops and events, and will have several African elements in its design and structure.
The terminal development dovetails with the Municipality’s beachfront promenade extension and will allow cruise passengers to access the central beachfronts with relative ease and safety. The green and energy efficient cruise terminal will boast a host of features and facilities and is set to boost the local economy and tourism industry.