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Glenwood: Colour splash for stalwarts

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One of the city's oldest areas has seen a slow revival of tired-looking houses, with wrought-iron latticework, into commercial enterprises through urban regeneration

By 1907 Durban, was experiencing a slump that had followed the Anglo-Boer War and it was the forethought of local medical doctor Sam Campbell that saw Glenwood Boys’ High School (originally called The Day Continuation School for Boys) founded in 1910.

The vestiges of time have not been kind to many of the original Glenwood houses, but a slow revival has triggered urban regeneration and the transformation of older houses, complete with their tired-looking wrought-iron latticework, into commercial enterprises.

The neighbourhood now boasts an array of coffee shops, antique shops, restaurants, galleries and boutique outlets to provide a bohemian village atmosphere to its mixed-use characteristics.

Its proximity to the University of KwaZulu-Natal Durban campus has boosted its residential interest and offered a commercial opportunity for property investors seeking to provide student accommodation.

Sam Harwood Property principal agent Sam Harwood says when looking for investment properties, as the flats and accommodation options in Glenwood can offer, the key to success is the return on the investment.

This means ensuring the property is appropriately tenanted and maintained and that the rental required to secure the return is consistently achievable.

On the wish list for ideal rental accommodation is security, views and parking spaces, while the property investor must ensure the rental covers costs, including the levies generated on the property.

Among the redevelopment and commercial investment to have taken place around Brand Road, Alan Paton Road and Ester Roberts Road are the two housing complexes at 223 and 242 Brand Road and the ever-expanding McDonald’s Boutique Hotel.

A property in Brand Road undergoing renovations for use as commercial space. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

That facility, taking its name from the original name for Alan Paton Road, specifically McDonald Road, has grown incrementally as surrounding properties have become available and demand for its accommodation offering has expanded.

Given the shifting nature of the neighbourhood, there are various commercial properties on the market which previously existed as residential homes. An office block measuring 194m² and being sold as sectional title is on the market for R2.995million, while two 160m² office premises – semi-detached and sectionalised to be sold individually – came to the market last week for R1.8m each.

Another converted house offering 136m² in office space has four rooms, an entrance hall and lock-up safe for a R2.6m price tag, while for another R200000 is a commercial property with nine offices, two reception areas, boardrooms, a double garage and eight additional parking bays as well as a granny flat. The free-standing commercial property accommodates a land plot measuring 572m².

Among the rental properties is second floor office space of 160m² for R112/m² in a well-maintained office building, a 109m² office with four parking bays for R108/m² two doors away and 112m² office space for R110/m² in FNB House.

Top art gallery and ballet shop add flavour to businesses

KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts

The KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts’ wall paintings provide splashes of colour in the neighbourhood. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Founded in 1902, the KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts was initially an informal opportunity for artists to discuss, exhibit and market work. Following extensive growth and radical transformation, the facility is today the province’s premier contemporary art gallery, hosting exhibitions of local, national and international importance. The organisation includes the art gallery, shop and arts cafe, with the shop exclusively promoting local craft and design.

Onelogix Cargo Solutions

The OneLogix Group is a niche logistics provider with experience gained over 27 years of operation. The company was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange AltX board in 2004 and transferred to the main board (transportation services sector) in 2013.

The Ballet Lady

The Ballet Lady prides itself on supplying customers with all their ballet-related uniforms and accessories. PLM Golden Lodge Part of the PLM Group of hotels, the Golden Lodge has been designed to accommodate needs of both the leisure and corporate guest. The lodge is conveniently located close to the city centre and Durban’s landmark beaches.

Ballet Lady is one of the commercial enterprises operating from an old house. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

McDonald’s Lodge, Boutique Hotel and Conference Centre

Established in 1999, the family-owned McDonald’s Boutique Hotel has been designed to accommodate the discerning business executive and corporate traveller as well as holidaymakers and families. Deriving its beginnings from a disadvantaged background and applying lessons learnt over the past 25 years, the business achieves high praise in a competitive industry.

The extensive McDonalds Boutique Hotel is another example of where land use has shifted in Glenwood providing commercial opportunities while upgrading the neighbourhood. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Advantages to living, working in the area 

Market supply

There is a growing supply of properties coming to the market that can be acquired for redevelopment and conversion or to be wholly knocked down to create new housing and/or commercial space.

Established neighbourhood

An established neighbourhood implies long-standing consumers and tenancies. Its proximity to the University of KwaZulu-Natal Durban campus has been a drawcard for its residential market for decades.

Glenwood Boys’ High School has been a stalwart of the neighbourhood since 1910. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Close to national road infrastructure

The area enjoys access to the traditional Durban central business district and renowned beaches, as well as being not far from the growing commercial node in Umhlanga.

Mixed-use area with flats above retail space

Having developed originally as a traditional residential area with local convenience, Glenwood has a host of mixed-use buildings already operating. These include strip mall-type arrangements with smaller retail outlets on the street level and residential accommodation on the upper floors. As redevelopment happens, there is a growing shift for more commercial ventures.


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