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Investing in KZN: Overport Drive

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Overport Drive is a short, one-way strip running east between Ridge Road (now Peter Mokaba Road) and Stephen Dlamini Road.

The position of Overport – referring collectively to the suburbs of Overport, Sydenham, Sparks Estate and part of Essenwood Road (now Stephen Dlamini Road) – does little justice to the vibe and energy this part of Durban represents

Capturing the essence of this mixed-use commercial and residential neighbourhood are the properties along Brickfield Road (now Felix Dlamini Road although even the N3 signage still uses the old name) and Sparks Road (now Moses Kotane Road).

Sunway Centre brings brightness and bling to Overport Drive. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Bordering the suburbs forming the prestigious (and formerly white) neighbourhood of Berea, Overport was a traditionally Indian area under apartheid and these influences still dominate the zone.

Durban’s eighth mayor, William Hartley, coined the name Overport for an estate he had developed in an area until then called West Hill. The estate was bordered by what is today Julia, Springfield, Stephen Dlamini Road and Felix Dlamini Road, although the modern term describes a wider zone.

Overport Drive is a short, one-way strip running east between Ridge Road (now Peter Mokaba Road) and Stephen Dlamini Road. It is anchored by the Overport Shopping Centre and a commercial development on the eastern end that has housed various enterprises in the past 20 years.

Damelin College occupies a significant amount of commercial space in the neighbourhood. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

The road’s original purpose was residential as a cheaper option to the colonial mansions along Musgrave and Stephen Dlamini roads, when those highly sought-after properties were the most expensive in Durban.

From the 1980s, those properties have been slowly upgraded and converted into modern commercial spaces. Some houses were wholly demolished to accommodate the change in demand for property, and today there are no homes along the 500m strip.

While the nature of the street has changed, its vibrancy and kerb appeal have dramatically increased as the original houses had been allowed to deteriorate.

This property has been beautifully restored to its original colonial Durban style, while being modernised to suit its new purpose. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

According to statistics released by the South African Property Transfer Guide (www.saptg.co.za), there are 36 property transfers along Overport Drive on recent record with the majority concluded below R500000. These were typically small spaces.

Four more transactions were concluded, one between R500000 and R1million, one between R2m and R2.5m, one between R4.5 and R5m, and one between R5m and R5.5m

The dynamics of this section of the Overport neighbourhood mean commercial property investment opportunities may be blurred with residential ones. A 140m² standalone commercial property came to the market in the middle of last year for R3.15m.

More recently an 829m² mixed-use property directly opposite The Atrium Shopping Centre was sold for an undisclosed price. The building has three access points and can accommodate three different tenants. It offered its purchaser the opportunity for redevelopment or refurbishment to facilitate office space, showrooms, retail or residential development.

Rentals range from around R80/m² to R130/m².

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