Once a single carriageway, this busy zone now features a dual carriageway and improved access
Traversing North Coast Road, now officially Chris Hani Road but still known by the former name, from the Umgeni Road/Sea Cow Lake Road intersection towards the N2 national freeway, there is a sense of travelling through a visual explanation of Durban’s commercial and industrial history.
Perched above the road overlooking Sea Cow Lake Road is the Umgeni Ironworks building, a facility dating to the late 1930s from a company today called Umgeni Iron and Steel Foundry.
That entity has its roots in the late 1890s. The drive along the road passes the link road connecting North Coast Road with Briardene and the multi-billion rand commercial business park developed at RiverHorse Valley, and the top end feeding on to the N2 boasts the newer commercial ventures stimulated by the release of former sugar cane land for redevelopment.
There is little doubt North Coast Road has seen substantial change and development over the years. Once a winding single carriageway with light industrial and commercial businesses lining its borders, the busy commercial zone now boasts a dual carriageway and improved access.
However, there remains at its heart light industrial and commercial businesses on the lower stretch of the road closer to Umgeni Road. The most dominant business types incorporate motor vehicle accessories and repairs as well as building materials companies, specifically granite suppliers for kitchen counter tops and bars within household applications, or monuments and repair work on a grander scale.
On the stretch closer to the national freeway, the construction of innovative commercial and light industrial developments may be viewed as the acid test for broader initiatives in neighbouring RiverHorse Valley.
The link road to the N2 via RiverHorse Valley also opened up Briardene to the North Coast Road and prompted further infrastructural upgrades in the area.
Today, in the last few kilometres of North Coast Road before the N2 KwaMashu interchange, there is a hive of commercial activity, including the Redhill Industrial Park built by Tongaat Hulett Developments, Constantia Park developed by Fortress Income Fund and Glen Murray Industrial Park.
The property development arm of the industrial food group Tongaat Hulett, Tongaat Hulett Developments has been instrumental in expanding commercial and industrial land use to the north of Durban.
Since the early 1990s, the group has converted prime sugar cane land into commercial property space in a move that has facilitated transformation of the real estate industry. Constantia Park was developed by Fortress Income Fund, a company that has emerged as a powerhouse in the South African property industry since listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 2009.
Focusing on the development of prime logistic warehousing, retail centres and strategic offshore investments, the fund has experienced positive growth annually.
Near the Briardene link road, the newly developed Bridge Park complex has brought large, well-presented multi-purpose premises to the commercial and industrial market.
Facilities include work and storage areas, offices, ablution and shower facilities, drivein access, secure parking and automated control access into the business park – with the additional benefit of clear visibility from North Coast Road, but without forcing customers to negotiate turning into the premises from that busy street. There are currently properties to let along North Coast Road.
In the Bridge Park complex, Property 71 Administrators has 530m² on its books available immediately for R66/m² that comprises a spacious openplan work and storage space, five ablution, and shower facilities and drive-in access.
Just Property has a facility in Constantia Park at R70/m² for the 542m² warehousing space. The well-maintained business park, situated at the top end of North Coast Road approaching the N2, offers sound security and each unit has double-volume height and open-plan warehousing area, offices, reception area and ablutions facilities.
Another property on its books is a 343m² office in the same complex for R71/m². Wakefields has a commercial property for sale in Park Hill, close to North Coast Road. The business, carrying a R3.1 million sale price, has around 280m², including office space, storage and a workshop area.