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Sea Cow Lake: Airport drives demand

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Location provides investors with economic, development opportunities on the boundaries of proven success

Nestled near the N2 national freeway and named after the hippos that used to roam freely in the area until the last one was shot in 1898, there is a small slice of Sea Cow Lake that has not benefited from the significant investment and growth characteristic of the area north of the Durban central business district.

The lower income neighbourhood, a mix of residential properties and mom-and-pop style businesses interspersed with medium-sized enterprises, lies 4km from the Tongaat Hulett Properties development named Riverhorse Valley – a light industrial, manufacturing and warehousing business district also named for the animals that roamed the plains – and on the opposite side of the freeway and the Umgeni River from Springfield Park and its associated commercial enterprises.

In a sense, it is a forgotten portion of land amid the rapid economic growth within this section of the eThekwini Municipality, particularly along the northern strip towards Umhlanga, Cornubia, the King Shaka International Airport, Zimbali and Ballito.

However, according to property solutions company Lambie Spark & Associates, throughout the world coastal regions are booming with development and Durban commands much of the finest coastline and climate in South Africa.

Sea Cow Lake has a mix of larger businesses and smaller family-owned ventures. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

“There is now overwhelming consensus the greater Durban region holds the key to investment opportunities within the economy. Just consider the billions already invested into these national icons and driving economic growth and development,” the company says.

The comment refers to the establishment of the Dube Tradeport and King Shaka International Airport; the widening of the Durban harbour mouth; the booming proliferation of commercial, industrial and residential development along the KwaZulu-Natal north coast; the extension of the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre; the redevelopment of the Durban waterfront zone; the development of Cornubia and its commercial, retail and industrial business estates; and the potential upgrade and extension of the Durban harbour and container handling facilities to further enhance the city’s distribution hub status.

The location of this particular parcel of Sea Cow Lake property provides investors with economic and development opportunities in relatively virgin territory on the boundaries of proven successes. Re/Max Southern Africa chief executive Adrian Goslett says the King Shaka International Airport is driving property demand in the surrounding areas.

This demand is being seen not only within the residential market and its upmarket golfing and housing estates, but also in commercial, retail and industrial properties catering to these demands.

Some of the newer commercial properties located in Sea Cow Lake. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Rentals within Sea Cow Lake vary according to the condition of the unit, with current asking prices ranging from R30/m² for a 600m² warehouse with three-phase electricity to R43/m² for a 929m² double-storey open-plan warehouse, R55/m² for a 300m² commercial property building suited to warehousing and R75/m² for a 240m² factory site.

Currently there is a 6051m² commercial space on the market in the broader Sea Cow Lake area (on the opposite side of the freeway) for R8million. The vacant, undeveloped land has water and electricity connections.

In December 2016 a 9400m² piece of vacant land in Sea Cow Lake came to the market with a R899000 purchase price. The property was zoned for commercial and residential development with special consent available for a place of worship, hall, school, shops, offices or a B&B.

Established businesses include manufacturers of spices

The commercial enterprises of Amina’s Wonder Spices and Wonder Dates alongside the Chohan Centre and Durban Spice Works with a local mosque in the background. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Amina’s Wonder Spice and Wonder Dates

Established in 1999, Amina’s Wonder Spice and Wonder Dates started with humble beginnings, a great idea and hard work by a husband-and-wife team. Currently the company produces 17 different products, supplying nationally and more recently receiving international requests.

Chohans Spices

The family-owned business Chohans Spices has been operating for more than 50 years as a manufacturer and retailer of spices and related products. The manufacturing, milling, blending and packing of spices takes place at the Sea Cow Lake manufacturing and retail plant, while other retail outlets are located in Overport, Kingsmead and Westville.

The iconic Chohans Spice warehouse and manufacturing facility is a landmark in Sea Cow Lake. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Solly Manjra’s Caterers, Restaurant and Take-away

An Indian chef doyen, Suliman “Solly” Manjra has cooked for royalty, heads of state and sports stars as well as having the distinction of catering for 68 000 people in a single sitting for the Eid-ul-Adha festival of sacrifice in 2011. He currently operates from his Sea Cow Lake compound, consisting of a complex of modern buildings that includes kitchens, offices, cold rooms, a restaurant and warehouse – a far cry from the business he established under a tree in 1985.

City Board Xpress

City Board Xpress stocks a full range of local and international boards for the South African market with its suppliers including Sonae Arauco, National Edging, PG Bison and Franke.

Available labour is just one advantage


While an established area, there is land within Sea Cow Lake for greenfields development or for redevelopment of existing land and building use.


Sea Cow Lake is set within easy access of the N2 national freeway, meaning there is good accessibility for distribution mechanisms and for clients wanting to come into the commercial ventures in the neighbourhood.

The Sea Cow Lake industrial area is situated close to residential properties. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Residential proximity

The neighbourhood has a combination of residential and commercial land use, but is also within easy accessibility of other residential suburbs, including Newlands City and Newlands West.


The sad reality of South Africa’s economic status means there are available labour sources within commutable distances from new and established businesses operating from Sea Cow Lake.

Nearby informal settlements provide unskilled and semi-skilled labour, while the residential areas are able to provide the more skilled demands.

Local economic growth

This is an economically depressed area, so establishing a business within Sea Cow Lake provides opportunities for community upliftment and local economic growth. The benefit for businesses is that the area has swift access to markets and can compete with the more economically beneficial areas less than 5km away.

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