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Overport: Mix for success

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Established area with commercial and industrial operations, and property values boosted by multi-million rand upgrades.

The geographical location 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. 

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

Bordering the suburbs forming the prestigious (and formerly white) neighbourhood of Berea, Overport was traditionally an Indian area under apartheid and it is these influences that 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, Essenwood Road and Brickfield Road, though the modern name describes a wider geographical zone. 

Among large-scale commercial businesses – including JSE-listed prepayment meter solutions group Conlog, national storage company Stor-Age and Alpha Pharm, pharmaceutical wholesalers – are the smaller operators that always bring colour and character to neighbourhoods like this. 

Long-standing Brickfield Road businesses Boss Fabrics and Kay Makan are witnessing revamps to neighbouring buildings. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Glen’s Button Manufacturers operates alongside Shaik Hoosen’s Corner, providing television services and repairs, Sham Panel Beaters as well as Nooris Bakery and Food Mart. Jostling for space are apartment blocks where typically smaller businesses operate from the ground floors and house their families in the floors above; there are places of worship from Islamic mosques to Hindu temples and Christian churches; and the street traders who daily set up informal outlets under temporary shelters to sell everything from toilet paper to make-up, costume jewellery and fruit and vegetables. 

The unwavering impression created is one of an established neighbourhood offering an eclectic mix of commercial and industrial operations now forming part of the broader Durban cityscape. 

Today investments into improving the commercial and industrial property values are evident with the multi-million-rand upgrade to the Kenilworth Park office block and wholesaler fabric and homeware group U&G Fabrics and Lifestyle Centre being only two key examples. Both buildings now sport industrial chic facades of metal, glass and black paintwork, and Kenilworth accommodates businesses including Willowton Meats, Desai Jadwat Inc, Paruk’s Pharmacy and Design Time. 

Intersecting Brickfield Road, Moses Kotane Road (formerly Sparks Road) is home to a substantial array of Muslim businesses, offering clients fashionware, halaal fast food outlets and butcheries. 

Revolt Projects is currently constructing a commercial building that will offer tenants and owners within the development space retail facilities, office space, food courts, medical suites and a banking hall. 

Kenilworth Park is another building to have seen investments into its upgrade. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

The dynamics of this section of the Overport neighbourhood mean commercial property investment opportunities may be blurred with residential ones. The Prime Property Group currently has an entire apartment block on its books for R10.5 million for investors seeking a passive income stream from rentals. 

The block has 12 two-bedroom units and two two-bedroom penthouses across four floors. The units are identical, with quality finishes. 

Earlier this week several private commercial property owners posted online advertisements for office space to let effective from October 1. These include vacant shops ranging in size from 30m2 and 800m2 situated along Brickfield Road and suited to attracting passing trade. These have the potential to accommodate a variety of retail purposes from a supermarket to a butchery, fresh produce supplier, furniture and hardware outlet, restaurant or clothing store. 

Earlier this year JazMax brought a 180m2 mini factory or retail outlet in Buro Centre to the market for R44.45/m2 excluding value added tax. The building offers only pedestrian access to the shop, but has customer parking in the area.

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