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Sea Cow Lake: Hippos once lived here

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Poorer neighbourhoods integrated with commercial and industrial operations

The name Sea Cow Lake Road is the only memory of the animals that roamed the banks of the Umgeni River when Durban was emerging as a town and commerce was slowly making its presence known.

In a 1904 report titled Geological Survey of Natal and Zululand, the author William Anderson wrote: “Not far above the Umgeni bridge, on the northern side of the river, is Sea Cow Lake, which in the early days of the (Port Natal) settlement was a lake of no small pretensions, in which sea cows (hippopotamus) were of common occurrence, but now it is merely a reedy swamp.”

This old stretch of road intersects with North Coast Road at one end and Inanda Road running into the Springfield Business Park and the N2 national freeway at the other. Today it is also the section of land sandwiched between the Umgeni River and the more modern Riverhorse Valley development that was made possible when Tongaat Hulett released sugar cane land for commercial redevelopment.

The complex integration of poorer neighbourhoods with commercial and industrial operations is another obvious feature of Sea Cow Lake Road and its smaller offshoots. The Habibia Soofie Saheb Badsha Peer mosque and the Shri Vishnu Temple have served their communities for generations, while old residential properties are tucked away behind warehouses and factories.

However, also evident are broken pavements, green space overgrown with weeds and illegally dumped rubbish.. Informal traders have established vending outlets along the road selling to workers in the area.

Amid the large-scale heavy industrial development are small and micro enterprises operating from old houses and backyards. Most dominant are auto-repair businesses and suppliers of do-it-yourself hardware.

There are properties to rent and purchase within the area. A large site is under construction and will have imposing views over Inanda Road and the broader Springfield Park area.

Currently Chas Everitt has several properties available for rent, including a double volume warehouse of 2 553m² for R35/m². The facility comprises a warehouse with 200m2 of offices and ablution facilities and boasts container access with hyster ramp access into the building.

Another rental opportunity is a 372m² factory with offices and a reception area with easy access for superlinks and trucks and monthly rentals of R40/m2.
Rawson Commercial Property has a 110m² shop for rental at R100/m² in a busy area near two national supermarket retailers and sound foot traffic.

Tyson Property has an industrial space off Inanda Road with good access and visibility, loading capacity and mezzanine offices. The 321m² space has a monthly rental of R65/m2.

On November 16 Aucor Auctioneers will auction  the Uniprint building at a multiple commercial and residential property auction in Houghton. Situated within the Springfield Park developments, the building has a gross lettable area of 10 000m² and multiple entrances to the warehouse. The property is suitable for multiple tenants or a single entity.

There are also development opportunities within Sea Cow Lake Road and surrounding arterial points as derelict and abandoned buildings come to the market for their land value. Re/Max has two such options on its books – one a 918m² plot with an asking price of R1.05 million and the second 6 051m² of level land for R8.5m.

In September Property Nerds listed a 2 700m² vacant land site for R4.7m.

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