For years this town has been known as an educational hub, but today it is changing into a busy and attractive business area
It is known for being an educational hub thanks to the University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg campus, but Scottsville is shifting its focus from being a tertiary facility surrounded by residential houses into a thriving business area.
The university was formed in January 2007 following a merger between the University of Natal (Durban and Pietermaritzburg) and the University of Durban-Westville to forge a tertiary institution with a rich history.
The two KwaZulu-Natal universities were among the first batch of South African institutions to merge in line with the government’s higher educational restructuring plans. Equally central to Scottsville has been the race course – famous partly for being the setting for the movie Racing Stripes, a 2005 children’s film about a racing zebra.
The investment by hotel and gaming group Tsogo Sun into the Golden Horse Casino and Southern Sun Pietermaritzburg Hotel at the race course was an early large-scale development in the neighbourhood.
Earlier this year it was announced the old Woodburn Rugby Stadium site was being developed into a 8 000m² shopping centre to be aptly named Woodburn Square.
It is due to open its doors by the end of the year. The multi-million-rand facility located on the corner of Alan Paton Avenue and New England Road brings to the market a variety of shops ranging between 50m² and 400m² as well as new office space.
The facility is already 83% let. Being brought to the market by a private developer, the company has indicated more than 800 jobs (500 during construction and another 300 permanent positions) for the local community will ensue.
Anchor tenants include Checkers, Woolworths Food, Dis-Chem, a Chicken Licken drive-through, Wimpy and SpecSavers, effectively complementing the newly constructed Maritzburg Eye Hospital next door to the shopping centre.
The new centre will compete with The Mall @ Scottsville for customers. The Mall @ Scottsville is an established facility located on the boundary of the university. That centre currently offers 40 business outlets across 14 000m² of gross lettable area to the market in its function as a community shopping centre.
There are various commercial properties to rent or purchase within Scottsville. As a reflection of prices, an upmarket bed and breakfast facility came to the market earlier this year for R2.7 million.
In the past month a commercial property offering two spacious offices and a large reception area came to the market for R68/ m² for the 130m² space.
Another property including six offices offered business premises for R75/m² with various sizes available.
Flourishing in an established centre of opportunity
University of KwaZulu-Natal
Pietermaritzburg campus Founded in 1910 as the Natal University College in Pietermaritzburg, the university was granted independent status in 1949 owing to its rapid growth in numbers, wide range of courses and achievements in research.
The current name came into being in 2004 following the amalgamation of the University of Natal (Durban and Pietermaritzburg) and the University of Durban-Westville.
Golden Horse Hotel and Casino
Located at the Scottsville Race Course, the Tsogo Sun-owned Golden Horse Casino and attached Southern Sun Pietermaritzburg Hotel was one of the developments to recognise Scottsville for its investment potential. The facility offers a range of entertainment opportunities beyond the casino to include live entertainment, restaurants and access to the Scottsville Race Course.
The Mall @ Scottsville
Located on the bustling Alan Paton Avenue, The Mall @ Scottsville provides a 40-store centre for the surrounding community and has been recognised as an anchor business for the neighbourhood.
Comrades Marathon Association
Responsible for annually presenting the ultra-marathon race event between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, the Comrades Marathon Association promotes unity and aims to encourage both competitive athletes and offer an attainable challenge for ordinary individuals.
Mzila HM Incorporated Attorneys
Founded in 2009, Mzila HM Incorporated is a growing black legal firm striving to be one of the country’s best legal practices. The company aims to form strategic partnerships and work with well-established firms to gain skills and experience.
The Gay and Lesbian Network
A registered non-profit organisation, the Gay and Lesbian Network (GLN) has done pioneering work with primarily young, unemployed and marginalised gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people living in and around KwaZulu-Natal. The organisation aims to create a supportive and accepting society.
Plenty of business opportunities
Since the University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg campus is the anchor business for the area, it is clear there are opportunities in education in the neighbourhood. Pietermaritzburg is known for its high quality education facilities from pre-school to tertiary level.
Pietermaritzburg already has extensive historic value and visitors can indulge in a host of tourism-related activities. However, the city is also located within striking distance of the Midlands Meander and investors can hook into that broader environment by providing leisure-based businesses including tours, boutique accommodation and interesting products.
In line with a global trend for densification of cities and repurposing residential properties into commercial space, Scottsville offers investors the opportunity to play within the property development market. Older houses are being renovated, typically retaining their traditional Natal colonial facades of red brick and white broekie lace, into beautifully restored business premises.
The proliferation of students who flood the city to undertake tertiary education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg campus means there will always be demand for affordable accommodation. This offers opportunities for investors to acquire a property portfolio across flats, townhouses and larger houses that can be let at reasonable rates.