Monday, November 19

Jacobs: Sought-after hive of activity

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This industrial area dates back more than 100 years and still holds significant investment and location opportunities

Located within the Durban South Industrial Basin, the Jacobs industrial area dates back more than 100 years and is intrinsically linked to the industrial and commercial history of the city. When the land was first developed, its premium advantage and reason for development was its proximity to the Durban port, today the busiest in Africa

In the 1950s, when the government developed Louis Botha International Airport (later renamed Durban International Airport), the investment further entrenched the area’s value by adding the air cargo element.

Following the airport’s closure and the proposal for the land to be converted into a dug-out port, Jacobs still holds significant investment and location opportunities.

Four years ago, former Rawson Property Group franchisee Jacques Nagel recognised Jacobs as being one of the city’s most sought-after industrial precincts.

The strong demand was being led by the severe shortage of commercial and industrial stock in Durban, and at the time was the reason owners were reluctant to sell and rental stock was diminishing.

At the time, Nagel said the situation was a complete turnaround from 20 years previously when Jacobs was viewed as “old-fashioned and unsatisfactory”, given the development of new areas like Briardene and Springfield Park.

A selection of smaller factory units available in Jacobs. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

MaxProp commercial industrial broker Paulo da Silva says there is a trend developing throughout Durban South industrial basin where investors and developers are demolishing older buildings to provide modern stock. Underlying the trend has been the shift in the land use with the original buildings in Jacobs accommodating manufacturing companies needing to be close to the harbour for imports and exports.

Now, warehousing and logistics companies are seeking commercial properties with easy access to the port, but their space requirements are substantially different. Tenants require larger yard space and higher ceilings to accommodate container trucks.

Da Silva says developers are hoping to achieve rentals upwards of R65/m² but believes the current economic state is seeing leases signed in the R55/m² to R60/m² range for newly completed developments. Typically built on spec by investors rather than owner-built, they accommodate medium-sized logistics companies wanting 1500m² to 3000m². This is outside the realm of the new development in Clairwood Logistics Park where developer Fortress REIT is building warehousing facilities that will accommodate demand for space upwards of 10 000m².

Older architecture and industrial property developments are a feature of the Jacobs area. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Last month, the Jacobs premises occupied by footwear manufacturing company Jini Trading Factory, was razed by fire with neighbours complaining the incident exposed them to health risks following billows of thick smoke that resulted from burning bales of leather, rubber and plastic.

The upside is the availability for development of that property into one better suited to the emerging shift in the neighbourhood.

There are substantial investment and rental opportunities in Jacobs. On the market is a 1100m2 warehouse (price on application) with 7m-high eaves and a roller shutter door access. A 336m2 mini-factory unit in an established business park complex is also available for R2.4m and will suit a small engineering business with workshops.

A 2250m2 multi-level industrial factory, with a 5m-height clearance, can be acquired for R7.875m. Lastly, an 800m2 warehouse with 6.5m eaves is for sale at R5.5m.

Rentals average R50/m².

Logistics and occupational health services among mix

Corsair Logistics

Landside logistics company Corsair Logistics provides transport and logistics services to importers and exporters as well as clearing and forwarding companies.

Jacobs Medical & Occupational Health Centre

Jacobs Medical & Occupational Health Centre. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Established in 1980 by Dr AS Maharaj & Partners practising as occupational doctors, the Jacobs Medical and Occupational Health Centre has rendered occupational health services to contractors, private individuals and companies as well as on-site work.

Marilyn Conference Centre

Part of the Marilyn Group, this three-star graded venue offers 24-hour security and can accommodate 150 guests. The group owns and operates a string of upmarket hotels and guest houses throughout Durban.

The newly constructed Marilyn Conference Centre. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Zeuf Contractors & Engineering

Durban-based Zeuf Contractors & Engineering manufactures, sells and repairs hydraulic cylinders and components. The company aims to supply clients with a wide range of high-quality hydraulic equipment as well as professional services at affordable prices. Customers span companies in the construction, transportation and manufacturing industries, while the company is a preferred supplier and service provider to the hydraulic industry.

Proximity to harbour a big drawcard

Accessibility to the harbour

Jacobs was originally developed for its proximity to Durban’s harbour, recognised as the busiest port in Africa as well as the country’s leading container terminal. More than 70% of South Africa’s containerised traffic passes through this port.

Transport infrastructure

The area is easily accessible by road to the M4 and M7 highways as well as the national arterial freeways N2 and N3. Following the closure of Durban International Airport in 2010, the prospect remains on the table for developing a dug-out port on that land. Should that happen, Jacobs is ideally situated for taking advantage of its proximity.

This building reflects the older architecture and development typical of Jacobs. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Labour

The residential suburbs of Fynnlands, Austerville and Wentworth are located above Jacobs, while the Bluff, with its millionaire’s row of properties boasting awe-inspiring ocean views along Marine Drive, is less than 10 minutes’ drive away.

Established industrial area

As an established industrial area, Jacobs offers the opportunity for businesses to thrive off each other as clusters. There is also the advantage of lower rentals than those being achieved in more modern industrial areas including Clairwood Logistics Park, which is being built across the M4. Opportunity to acquire older buildings and modernise In being an older area, there is also the opportunity to acquire properties relatively cheaply and redevelop them in line with modern demands. This will include accommodating the current Superlink trucks within the properties if not on the existing road infrastructure.

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