Older people are drawn to Howick by its pleasant lifestyle, warm summers, cool winters and charming Victorian architecture
Founded in the 1840s and named after the London-based Secretary of State for the Colonies who had recently acquired the title Lord Howick, Howick is today the centre of KwaZulu-Natal’s retirement community.
Its warm summers and cool winters, sometimes punctuated by freezing cold snaps when snows descend on the Drakensberg Mountains, has endeared the town to older generations either living in the long-established Ambers – Amberfield, Amberglen, Amber Valley, Amber Ridge, Amberlee and Amber Lakes – or in the any of the newer developments that have sprung up over the past 20 years.
Howick’s major tourist attraction is Howick Falls, a waterfall where the Umgeni River tumbles 95m over dolerite cliffs en route to the Indian Ocean. The falls have both claimed lives and underpinned commercial development for its original settlers and subsequent generations of travellers and residents.
A little known fact about Howick and the nearby Karkloof is that it is possibly the location of the world’s first manned flight. Photographic evidence exists showing that a John Goodman Household flew a home-made glider in 1871 and again in 1875 on the outskirts of Howick, but the actual distance flown and height achieved differs depending on the source. Today a memorial at Curry’s Post honours Household’s achievement.
Also noteworthy is the town’s association with Nelson Mandela. Madiba was awarded the Freedom of Howick in December 1996, 34 years after his arrest on the road between Howick and Lidgetton West. The monument at his capture site is now a major tourist attraction.
Howick features on the Midlands Meander route, South Africa’s inaugural arts and crafts-based tourism attraction founded by four potters, a weaver and several artists on a summer’s evening in 1985. It now offers a thriving meander route among more than 150 members, and has become another element for Howick’s commercial opportunities through accommodation and shopping experiences.
Various commercial enterprises and opportunities pervade Howick. These range from large-scale building developments like new retirement complexes, shopping centres and medical centres to smaller businesses including restaurants, art galleries and B&Bs to less formal structures around the taxi ranks.
Currently on the market, Dormehl Phalane has an established 340m² B&B business for sale for R2.75 million. Close to the town’s amenities, the main house comprises a large modern kitchen with gas hob and oven, sufficient built-in cupboard space, a scullery, and an eight-seater dining room with bay windows and double doors leading to a sun lounge. There are also doors leading out to the fibre-glass pool and entertainment area.
The business has seven double bedrooms downstairs and another two rooms upstairs and boasts a 70% occupancy. The fittings and furnishings can be purchased for another R500 000.
Pam Golding Properties has brought Sakabula Lodge to the market for R6.5m. Situated in the Thornville/Umlaas Road district – an area designated for commercial and industrial development – the lodge focuses on providing accommodation for contractors and as a venue for weddings and functions. Nine upmarket rooms are available in addition to substantial accommodation for workers, while the newly erected boarding block has been designed to accommodate 64 workers in dormitory facilities.
The price includes the fittings and furnishings, vehicles, equipment, stock and a garden filled with clivias that were left over from a nursery business that had previously operated from the property. The purchase may also include the current and forward bookings.
The company also has the iconic Howick Falls Hotel on its books, offering investors retail space in the town’s centre. On the market for R12.5m, the commercial property plays host to well-established tenants via the 10 retail outlets.
The landmark Howick Falls Hotel is the anchor tenant, while the property also boasts six office suites.
Tyson Properties has a 312m² commercial space for sale situated close to the Howick Falls to promise exposure to the passing tourist trade. On the market for R1.65m, the property would suit conversion into a shop or restaurant, office space or workshop.
Lastly, Re/Max Midlands has the 800m² Howick Agricultural Hall on the market for R8.55m. This heritage building is in the heart of Howick within walking distance of the falls, and can be viewed by appointment only.
Business owners seeking rental properties may be interested in the newly developed 3 on Mare Street property. Harcourts has a 56m² upmarket office or retail space available for R140/m² that could work as a gallery or boutique.
Dormehl Phalane has a 60m² commercial space available in Howick Main Street for R67/m². The site offers tenants a large central office with entrance door, one office off this, and a second smaller entrance door leading into a second office that also has the bathroom. The property has a small kitchenette.