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KZN: Invest in Pietermaritzburg

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This city of grandeur has shown property and retail sector growths of around 30%

Founded in 1838 and still home to numerous well-preserved late 19th century government buildings, including the historic Old Supreme Court building, Pietermaritzburg is a major producer of aluminium, timber and dairy products.

Kamdar Group chairman Mohammed Kamdar says investing in the city has a range of competitive advantages, given the city’s status as the provincial legislative and administrative capital. Its location on the N3 national freeway and proximity to Durban’s port and airport infrastructure promises accessibility and sound opportunities for national and international trade.

“The economy excels in exports to diverse markets for aluminium products, automotive components flowers and furniture, and the property and retail sectors have shown growth around 30% in recent years. Pietermaritzburg is a city of grandeur that appeals to young and old,” he says.

In this milieu is the Redlands Estate office complex. Located in the northern suburbs and close to the Royal Show Grounds and the Pietermaritzburg and Midlands Chamber of Business, Redlands Estate with its red brick buildings and landscaped gardens has become a city landmark.

Property for sale or to let within the Redlands Estate. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

According to developer Glen Hesse, the fully developed office park fulfils the need he saw 20 years ago for a mixed-use facility outside the Pietermaritzburg CBD. The 28 000m² of commercial and residential properties stretch across 70 000m² of land to incorporate green zones and well-maintained space in which to live, work and play.

“Easily accessible and now fully developed, Redlands has always been in demand on the residential and commercial property side. “There are also synergies with the hotel as businesses have access to accommodation, meals and entertainment,” Hesse says.

He estimates the total investment into the office park over the past two decades touches R500 million. The office park has evolved into an address well suited to investment buyers, with its accessibility to the Pietermaritzburg CBD, N3 national freeway with its links to Howick, Liberty Midlands Mall and the new Athlone Circle development.

Historically Pietermaritzburg architecture uses red brick and Victorian broekie lace framing the wraparound veranda, and the business park pays homage to that tradition.

Individual office complexes, while not cookie cutters of each other, adhere to the external red brick and cream paintwork as an updated version of the original architecture. In an interesting synergy, the office park houses the Redlands Hotel as accommodation, including long-stay options and conferencing facilities. 

There is currently only one property available for rent and/or for sale within Redlands Estate. After operating from the premises for 20 years, Liberty has relocated to bring its building to the market.

This offers an investor or company seeking premises the opportunity to acquire a 1 200m² commercial office building incorporating 11 offices for R22m. The building has the capacity to accommodate more than 100 employees and can be reconfigured in line with individual requirements.

Historically an investment property measuring 1 974m² came to the market with a R35m price tag. The building consists of 42 offices across two floors, including three boardrooms and four storerooms, while rents in the office park have ranged from R110/m² for a 178m² office space to R120/m² for 185m² and R140/m2 for 496m².

Cenprop agent Shanjay Maharaj says the commercial property market can be a complex environment in which to negotiate without the services of an experienced practitioner. It demands a thorough understanding of contract law, accounting principles, the macro and micro economic climate, spatial planning, municipal by-laws, construction and marketing.

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