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Hillcrest: Sleepy village to property boom

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Formerly a village on the Old Main Road between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, Hillcrest is now a bustling hub of its own

Established in 1895, Hill Crest (as it was spelt until 1969) was founded on a rise on the main transport route between Durban and Pietermaritzburg as a farming or weekend village and was a substantial distance from the port and central Durban.

Hillcrest lost its independent town board status in 1996 to fall under the Durban Unicity outer west local council, following the political change, and today is part of the broader eThekwini Municipality.

One of the first large-scale commercial investments was the Heritage Market, now acquired by the Oxford Group and renamed Oxford Village. In keeping with the more gentle lifestyle that had existed in Hillcrest at the time, the Heritage Market brought to the suburb an outdoor shopping centre styled as individual houses and units rather than a single brick-and-mortar building. The initiative formed part of the 1000 Hills Tourism route.

Oxford Village has retained that niche with the eclectic mix of businesses, typically small initiatives allowing entrepreneurs to test the market with their concepts, and caters for a wide range of shops. Anchored by the Oxford Freshmarket, shopping opportunities include health and beauty, clothing, sporting goods, jewellery, decor, restaurants and coffee shops.

Among the more original outlets demonstrating commercial initiative are the Mozart Marvelicious Ice Cream Factory Shop, Cash4Macs, Classique Braai Lounge, The Curry Okies, Alpha Assassins Tattoo Artist and Enchanted Earth, an esoteric haven for anyone seeking crystals, gemstones and jewellery.

The Heritage House complex is one of many developments along Old Main Road. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Along Old Main Road there is a hive of commercial property activity with new space becoming available for rent or purchase almost weekly. In the past week Tyson Property Group brought three rental properties along Old Main Road to the market with the first being an 18m² unit available for R100/m² suitable for a starter business. The short lease makes this a viable option for someone looking to wet their toes with a new venture.

Another smaller space is a 50m² double unit in the Oxford Village development that includes a small store room and a basin. Rental is R183/m².

Also available in the Oxford Village development is a 750m² space for R105/m² that will suit the demands of anyone seeking to establish a night club, restaurant, supper theatre or a church. The premises includes a kitchen, stage, large hall, changing rooms, store rooms and offices and has sufficient parking.

The N3 Property Group brought a 242m² A-grade office to the letting market this week for R140/m². Situated in Meyrickton Place off Old Main Road, the newly completed office is awaiting carpeting and dry-walling in line with tenants’ requirements.

The kitchenette and ablution facilities are self-contained and there are sufficient parking bays to accommodate the demand.

An abundance of micro shops and outlets within Oxford Village. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Among the properties for sale, Strathmore Commercial Industrial Property Group this week listed a 107m² sectional title office in the Torino Court development for R1.6585 million. The unit promises to be a sound investment opportunity either as a buy-to-let or as personal business space with the unit currently offering a yield of 8.5% annually.

The group also listed two other properties in the suburb. The first is a 490m² office block sectionalised into four offices, but that can be used as a single unit or sub-divided with one part rented out separately. On the market for R7.595m, the office park looks on to Old Main Road and offers 24-hour security, ample parking, A-grade finishes and well-maintained gardens.

The second property, on the market for R2.139m, is a 138m² sectional title office. The ground floor unit has A-grade finishes and can be dry-walled to suit the new owner’s configuration requirements. The unit comes with four parking bays per 100m² and additional parking spaces are available to purchase.

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