Street is experiencing a shift in its primary focus into an office environment for a multitude of businesses
Once the start of the residential suburbs for Durban’s founding families wanting to escape the humidity of the land immediately around the port and in the CBD, Problem Mkhize Road is experiencing a shift in its primary focus into an office environment for a multitude of businesses.
Formerly Cowey Road, the 1.8km treelined street honours the trade unionist and anti-apartheid activist Louis Problem Mkhize, who died in 2006. It stretches between Botanic Gardens and Sandile Thusi roads.
The Edwardian architecture speaks to its heritage, while the older shopping and commercial buildings, like the iconic Cowey Park Shopping Centre and Cowey House, interspersed between the houses and the art deco style blocks of flats reflect its era as a wholly residential environment.
However, the past 20 years have witnessed substantial investment into Problem Mkhize Road, with professional services companies – architects, accountants, attorneys and training schools – leading the charge in renovating and restoring the tired homes.
The outcome is a busy singlecarriageway street lined with shady decades-old trees that has retained its old Berea feel with a modern twist.
According to Property24, Berea consistently remains among the most sought-after areas in the city with its proximity to public green spaces, schools, amenities and Durban Botanic Gardens, the oldest botanical garden in Africa.
“Property investors would be wise to consider the potential of up-and-coming areas where centrality and renewal schemes make them well-positioned for transformation and potentially sound returns on investment in the near future,” the online property platform advises.
The former residential houses along Problem Mkhize Road have been restored to their Edwardian beauty to bring to the market smart offices, coffee shops, antique dealers and wellness clinics.
Cowey Park Shopping Centre is being renovated and expanded, gaining a modern façade and signage in the multimillion-rand investment and indicating commercial space to let. Diagonally across the road, Cowey House also has availability with rates ranging between R50/ m² and R100/m² for contemporary, tiled office accommodation.
Earlier this year, a nearby office was advertised for R166/m². Investors seeking new opportunities have a variety of properties from which to choose. Last month, a listed heritage building came to the market for R3.2 million – a residential home in which the owners had resided for 40 years as only the third people to have owned the property.
They had applied for a special consent for the property to be rezoned as a commercial building, in line with the changing environment.
Home to 24/7 bakery, travel company and make-up school
The Bread Mill
Established in 1987 as Bread Ahead, The Bread Mill is a family-owned bakery specialising in home-made pies, designer cakes, freshly baked breads and decadent doughnuts. The outlet has become a Durban landmark, voted the city’s Number One Bakery by the Daily News, and now never closes its doors to accommodate it’s patron’s needs at all hours.
A self-catering accommodation venue, A2B Lodge crystallises the shape of Problem Mkhize Road into the future. The former residential property has been converted into a business specialising in travel accommodation. Its key features are its location close to Durban Botanic Gardens and the traditional CBD, as well as the ease of accessibility provided by public transport routes.
School of Makeup Artistry
Soma provides specialised make-up artistry training to equip aspiring make-up artists with the skills required to establish a professional career. Focusing on practical, hands-on experience, the school develops technique, confidence and business etiquette among its students.
Established in 2004 and now part of a global company, G&T Projects provides consulting and engineering expertise for its clients’ project requirements. The company is known for providing quality, innovative management and professional integrity in design and management, driven by building successful partnerships with clients beyond their expectations.
Black-owned travel agency Royal Travel opened its doors in 1994 with three staff members and today provides the full spectrum of travel services, including flights, hotels, car rental, coach tours, cruises, rail transport and fully inclusive tours.
Advantages for local businesses
Access – Taxis, public transport and national freeway
The Berea is essentially Durban’s oldest residential area, meaning the infrastructure was developed around the neighbourhood. Businesses operating in Problem Mkhize Road are easily accessible from the traditional CBD, the N3 national freeway as well as via taxis and the public transport routes.
Older areas are established ones in terms of access to patrons. The properties shifting from residential to commercial are interspersed with free-standing homes and apartment block developments still promising customers within walking distances. There is also the advantage of a mature customer base.
Properties available for redevelopment
As the property use shifts from residential to commercial, older houses are released on to the market, giving developers the opportunity to convert them into business spaces. Developments on Promise Mkhize Road have essentially remained true to the neighbourhood’s Edwardian architecture when older buildings have been revamped.
A busy arterial road provides high visibility and foot traffic for businesses in the area. Problem Mkhize Road has a single-lane, two-way traffic flow with parking on both sides of the street as well as off-street parking for the various larger centres, including Cowey Park Centre and the commercial centre in which Woolworths is the anchor tenant.
A benefit of smaller commercial developments created from shifting property demands is the opportunity for symbiotic relationships between businesses opening in the area. Problem Mkhize Road has many professional services companies – including attorneys, architects, consulting engineers, accountants and medical practitioners – as well as training centres, restaurants and eateries and wellness centres.