New business park and creative precinct make for a dynamic mix in established road
Umgeni Road has its roots deep in Durban’s early days. It was among the first routes developed to expand the growing town in new directions. Today, the busy traffic zone stretches nearly 7km alongside the Umgeni River, with Durban Station near the CBD and the Umgeni Road interchange linking the region with the N2 north and south and the M19 west.
Included in that interchange, which opened in mid-2015 and cost R512 million to complete, is its longest, highest ramp which shifts traffic travelling north on the N2 to Umgeni Road towards the Durban CBD.
Elevated 20m, the eye-catching ramp was a major milestone for the South African National Roads Agency, whose mandate from the government is to finance, improve, manage and maintain the national road network. In recognition of excellence in civil engineering, the Concrete Society of Southern Africa chose the Umgeni Road interchange as the winner of the prestigious Fulton Award in the category for civil engineering structures over R100m in value.
However, as nodes around the city have been rejuvenated and recreated, side roads on the major transport routes are being drawn into the modernisation – and the small one-way street looping off Umgeni Road near Durban Station, thus aptly named Station Drive, is no exception.
The Station Drive Precinct, credited with being Durban’s first urban renewal and creative district, is home to a wide range of creative, lifestyle and technology freelancers and start-ups in one central location. It has also emerged as the city’s latest foodie hotspot, with its range of quirky coffee shops, bars, breweries, design studios, eclectic clothing stores, handmade leather craft manufacturers and a Sunday morning market.
The Plant Venue Co hosts the buzzing market which offers farm-fresh produce and artisanal foods, while the mobile food company Renegade Street Kitchen caters during the market and for events across the city. Artisan Cheese offers artisanal cheeses sourced nationally, while 8 Organics can satisfy the demand for locally sourced organic goods.
The Foundry building, at 43 Station Drive, anchored the area’s redevelopment and is now home to microbrewery That Brewing Company, a tapas-and-burger-style restaurant and the independent distillery Distillery 031 producing vodka, gin, spiced rum and absinthe. Station Drive has evolved as a model for urban renewal with the neighbourhood growing organically as numerous smaller businesses started up.
Among the well-known structures along Umgeni Road is the Lion Match Factory business park. The development has its main entrance on Umgeni Road and a second one off Station Drive. The original Lion Match Factory was built in 1925 and produced a family of products, including the matches used by South Africans for more than 100 years.
The factory closed in 2001 and the next year property development company JT Ross bought the site and converted it into a commercial precinct by having the zoning changed from industrial to general business. Nearly a decade later, following an extensive refurbishment that has mixed old and new as a reflection of past and future business, the Lion Match Factory business park entered the market.
The refurbishment created 24 000m² of office space, on-site medical and health facilities and a three-storey parking garage and boasts the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry among its tenants.
A wide range of businesses operate from Station Road
Station Forty Three (S43)
S43, the proud home of local urban brewery That Brewing Company, was inspired by the craft beer momentum that emerged at the beginning of the decade. The venue serves tapas and street food from around the world, with gourmet burgers including some with interesting twists.
Falling within the Mr Price Group, Miladys was founded in 1947 when a Mrs Bailey and a Mrs Elison opened a dress shop in Pinetown. The company prides itself on retailing clothes that work for women’s different shapes and sizes, rather than working against what nature has designed.
The Scratch Cook
Created by qualified chef Bridgot Bako and operating in partnership with food and safety technician Tracey Elliot, The Scratch Cook embraces the concept of modern food that is fresh, exciting and wholesome.
The Plant Venue Co
What was previously a warehouse has been transformed into a mixed-use event and photographic space, with the capacity to seat up to 300 guests. The day-to-day use includes a host of small entrepreneurial businesses with Renegade Kitchen HQ the core. The Cake Lab, Savage Jewellery, home décor company Artesense, Zulu products company OohKhamba and advertising and fashion production facility Studio 031 complete the mix.
Electrical, television and satellite accessories distributor Aerial King pioneered the South African aerial and television industry. The company was relaunched in 2013, shortly after the Sammeg Satellite business acquired Home of Living Brands, and is now one of three authorised DStv distributors.
The automotive retailer specialises in used cars and light delivery vehicles
Location, transport are major advantages
As a side street leading off Umgeni Road, businesses in the area have easy access to the N2 and N3. This includes a R512 million upgrade to the Umgeni Road-N2 interchange, completed in 2015, which has eased traffic congestion in the area.
Umgeni Road is served by Durban’s major transport links, with ample facilities close to Moses Mabhida Stadium and the central business district taxi routes. The main Durban railway station is within walking distance of Umgeni Road and Station Drive, while a railway station was built specifically to service the stadium ahead of the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament.
Umgeni Road has a long history of commercial development along its route and the redevelopment of Station Drive offers businesses the benefit of feeding off existing opportunities as well as one another.
The redevelopment of the Lion Match factory space into a modern business park has added significant gravitas to businesses in the surrounding areas. The park can be accessed from both Umgeni Road and Station Drive.