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Glenwood: Bohemian Rhapsody rules

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This area is one of Durban’s oldest suburbs, stretching down from the palatial properties around the university towards Umbilo

Running either side of the national N3 freeway into the Durban central business district, Berea Road divides the first band of residential neighbourhoods outside the inner-city into the Berea, with its colonial ancestry, and Glenwood and Umbilo as less palatial properties.

That also makes Glenwood one of Durban’s oldest suburbs, extending from its colonial-style mansions with wrought ironwork and pressed ceilings near the University of KwaZulu-Natal Durban campus down to the lower-income Umbilo Road area.

It is also an area that has entered an era of suburban revival, driven by the hive of activity evident on Helen Joseph Road (formerly Davenport Road), Bulwer Road and Ferguson Road. Investors have restored the Victorian houses, shifting the dynamics from residential to commercial as the properties have opened as restaurants, coffee roasteries, fashion outlets and community service businesses like plumbers, bakeries, educational facilities and medical centres. The result, particularly along Helen Joseph Road, is a Bohemian-style area with restaurants opening on to the pavements and residents more likely to occupy flats than free-standing properties.

As an established neighbourhood, Glenwood is served by good schools with proud histories, including Glenwood High that celebrated its centenary in 2010. Others include Glenwood Preparatory, Glenwood Junior Primary, Penzance Primary, St Henry’s Marist Brothers’ College and Durban Girls’ High.

However, unlike other residential areas, such as Florida Road, that have converted into commercial zones, the Glenwood block has not benefited from an Urban Improvement Precinct (UIP) tasked with managing the public space. This means there are streets that can only be described as seedy'”, where weeds grow uninhibited, verges are unloved and graffiti, grime and litter spoil the impression.

The extensive investment in barbed and razor wire fencing also speaks to the obvious crime levels that UIPs typically tackle as a key priority.

Despite the negative elements, Glenwood remains a favourite for small businesses and investors looking for an attractive market. This week Kopp Commercial listed a commercial property in the heart of the area’s medical node for R2.995 million. Boasting 400m², the property can accommodate 14 offices, has sufficient parking space for 10 vehicles and has easy access to the N3 and other main arterial roads.

Glenwood is a hive of mixed-use activity with numerous residents occupying flats, and the old free-standing homes now redesigned as commercial properties. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Re/Max Address and Just Property are offering investors the opportunity to secure a commercial property block within walking distance of Davenport Shopping Centre. On the market for R3.95m, the building comprises six 1.5 bedroom units and an outbuilding as well as off-street parking. The total floor space is 395m².

Private Property has an 884m² office for sale with an asking price of R2.5m. Also within walking distance of Davenport Centre and on the transport routes to UKZN and the Durban University of Technology, it will suit an investor looking at the student accommodation industry as the house has six bedrooms inside and another four outside.

The property would also suit businesses linked to the harbour and can be divided into various offices.

Glenwood has substantial opportunities for businesses looking to rent premises. This week Rawson Commercial listed a 160m² commercial property for R68.75/m² comprising four offices, a kitchenette and parking for four vehicles. Occupancy is available in March.

Also on the company’s books is a 260m² commercial property comprising five offices and a training room. The monthly rental is R70/m².

Tyson Property Group has a 228m² office space available for R85/m². The single-storey converted house will suit a company seeking premises as well as storage 
space and has air-conditioned offices with wooden floors, open-plan space and an outbuilding that can also be used as offices. Situated on Che Guevara Road (formerly Moore Road), it also has signage opportunities, is secured with electronic access. In addition it has an alarm as well as electric fencing.

Earlier this year Just Property brought to the market a 237m² commercial space for R110/m². First National Bank used to occupy the entire three floors of the property, but consolidated its operations into the ground floor, only to free up a spacious area for office space. The second floor is reached by lift or stairs and has a fire escape next to the shared kitchen.

The building, for which occupancy is available, has secure basement parking and off-street customer parking at the rear of the building.

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