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KZN: Investing in Qashana Khuzwayo

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Busy commercial road offers plenty of opportunities for growth and development in the area

Today the eThekwini suburb consists of an industrial area bounded on two sides by the two main arterial roads, Otto Volek and Qashana Khuzwayo (previously Shepstone Road), as well as a large residential area where the main arterial roads are Sander Road and Glamis Avenue (eastern boundary) and Bohmer Road and Bosse Street (western boundary). The neighbouring residential suburbs are Padfield Park, Manors, Wyebank and Clermont.

Among the first designated industrial and commercial parks in New Germany was the Power Centre, a strip-mall initiative just off Otto Volek Road that was developed and managed by the Ithala Development Finance Corporation. Ithala currently has more than one million square metres of industrial and commercial property space within its portfolio, making it among the largest property portfolio holders in KwaZulu-Natal.

As a quasi-government organisation, Ithala has among its objectives the responsibility to mobilise financial resources and implement development projects within the province to boost growth and development.

The Power Centre, aptly named given the electricity pylons looming large in the skyline behind the centre, fulfils this brief by providing commercial opportunities for smaller entrepreneurs.

Intrinsically linked to New Germany is a sad indictment of South Africa’s clothing and textile industry and the labour that has been destroyed. The now-defunct Frame Textiles Group, which in its heyday was a significant employer and a dominant force within the industry, had substantial investments in New Germany with its manufacturing operations.

Mixed-use buildings are an integral part of the local landscape. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

While founder Phillip Frame was not known as a model employer, was anti trade unions and paid minimal wages, at the height of the company’s success Frame employed 35000 people and was the world’s largest blanket manufacturer.

Yet the company was among many to collapse in the face of cheap imports of textiles and clothing into South Africa as the country opened up its borders and lowered tariffs to the detriment of local employment. As the bulk of those industries were based in KwaZulu-Natal, the province was the most affected by its job losses.

Today, those buildings have been repositioned as separate industries, small business units or industrial park developments.

A meander through the commercial and industrial zone reflects the degree to which New Germany can do with some tender loving care, either from the municipality or via the privately-funded urban improvement district process, to repair broken and crumbling pavements, remove weeds and overgrown grass, clean up litter and replace the fading signage found before many of the commercial ventures within the zone.

However, New Germany is benefiting from the inaugural phase of the eThekwini’s multi-billion-rand integrated rapid public transport network, Go!Durban, that has significantly upgraded Qashana Khuzwayo Road to accommodate new bus shelters.

The municipality has also committed itself to developing the land around the stations, specifically the landscaping, greening and development, and requires the community’s assistance to identify individual requirements.

In the Economic Development and Growth in eThekwini (EDGE) 13th edition publication focusing on the property sector, Viruly Consulting director Francois Viruly said public and private sector decisions play a key role in creating platforms from which economic growth and development take place.

“The demand for space and the performance of property markets is determined by the sector’s ability to adapt to the socio-economic realities it serves. From a practical perspective it requires investors and developers to deliver properties and an urban form that supports the changing needs of households and business entities.”

These are issues the municipality has tackled in upgrading Qashana Khuzwayo Road.

Investors and businesses looking to establish themselves in the road have a variety of options. Rents range from R49/m² for a 725m² retail unit with exposure to the Go!Durban route to R65/m² for a well-maintained mini-factory measuring 245m², and R110/m² for an 800m² showroom close to the retail shops along that stretch of road.

Earlier this year a commercial property comprising a range of mini-factory sites came to the market for R14.5million, while a 462m² property aimed at attracting either a property investor seeking rental income or a business owner wanting to operate from owned premises came to the market with a R2.5m price tag.

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