Sunday, December 16

Swapo Road: Village folk dynamic shift

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There has been a shift into a mixed-use area, offering investors potential to develop commercial space, which is filtering into branching roads

Formerly named Broadway, Swapo Road in Durban North is among the burgeoning residential areas across the city experiencing a shift in its characteristics as commercial enterprises replace family homes

Over the past two decades, Durban has experienced a significant shift from the traditional CBD and Berea towards the north. As Tongaat Hulett Developments has released former agricultural land for residential and commercial development, the explosion in people and businesses operating north of the Umgeni River has prompted property analysts to refer to the Umhlanga region as having a dynamism equivalent to Sandton in Gauteng.

Consequently, there has been a knock-on effect on the older established residential areas north of the Umgeni River (the southern boundary defining the Durban North suburbs from Durban). Durban North is strategically located halfway between the CBD and Umhlanga, thus traditionally been a well-heeled residential zone, but there are now sound examples of how the influx northwards is changing the property use.

This strip of shops along Swapo Road contains Broadway Pharmacy. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Swapo Road, Mackeurtan Avenue and Adelaide Tambo Road have mushroomed into new commercial zones as next-door neighbours to multimillion-rand residential houses. Swapo Road, honouring the South West African People’s Organisation (Swapo) Namibian independence movement and now leading political party, has emerged as a commercial centre.

Each of the country’s leading banks has large-scale branches alongside attorneys, dentists, religious organisations and premises, fast-food eateries, cafes and upscale restaurants. Several of the major estate agencies occupy converted houses or specially-built new buildings for their Durban North operations and compete with specialist cycle outlets, pharmacies and salons.

However, given the nature of KwaZulu-Natal’s economy, where the broadest percentage is derived from small and medium-sized businesses rather than corporate head offices, the street retains a village-type atmosphere. Enterprises along Swapo Road include Broadway Pharmacy that has served the local community since 1958; Maitre and Associates chartered accountancy company servicing individuals and small to medium-sized businesses; Madame Macaron where Viveshni Joseph is building her empire one macaron at a time; Lupa Osteria as the neighbourhood restaurant for bespoke pizzas and pastas and the vibey health shop Health on Broadway with its focus on nutrition and holistic well-being.

Former residential houses have been replaced with commercial enterprises and business space in line with changing land-use patterns. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

There is an array of commercial property space available along Swapo Road. One well-positioned opportunity within walking distance to most amenities is a 130m² office space for R158/m². Boasting a road frontage balcony and an inland-facing balcony, the office has a private entrance and four sub-divided offices within it.

Another 600m² office is spread over two floors with some of the offices having en-suite bathrooms. The owner demands R118/m² with the first floor tenants benefiting from spectacular sea views over the Indian Ocean.

A third example, located just off Swapo Road, is in a well-maintained office block in space rezoned business from its previous residential land use. The 75m² unit is on the first floor and commands R160/m².

Pam Golding Properties Durban North principal, Carol Reynolds, says given its prime location and convenient features, there is a constant demand for property in Durban North to underpin these investments as sound decisions.

“The Durban North precinct is becoming a highly sought-after commercial node with zoning geared towards residential office conversion. It offers end-users the opportunity of owning their own commercial premises and the benefit of a financing option that spans 20 years.”

Enterprises and business offerings in the region.

Broadway Pharmacy

Established in 1958, Broadway Pharmacy takes pride in being a family pharmacy focusing on compassionate health care of the highest quality. The business is located in one of the original commercial spaces found in residential areas.

Oh My Soul Café

Oh My Soul Café was the first official wholly vegan eatery in Durban, promising its patrons they no longer need to read labels and shop around to find vegan products. The cafe caters to anyone trying to eat more plant-based foods, are health conscious or just curious about consuming vegan food.

Jehovah’s Witness South Africa

The Jehovah’s Witness South Africa building is an example of former residential space now housing commercial enterprises. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Offices for the restorationist Christian denomination, Jehovah’s Witness is located in Swapo Road. Internationally, the religion reports a membership of 8.45 million adherents involved in evangelism and an annual memorial attendance of 20 million.

Maitre and Associates

Maitre and Associates’ sole practitioner Gavin Maitre offers accounting services to individuals and small to medium-size businesses.

Nikos Coalgrill Greek restaurant

Durban’s good weather is idyllic for pavement cafes and eateries, including Nikos Coalgrill Greek restaurant. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

A national Greek restaurant chain located in Gauteng, Ballito and Durban North, Nikos Coalgrill Greek marries contemporary dining with traditional home-style cooking from the Mediterranean country, specifically coal-grilled.

Plus 94 Research Market research company

Plus 94 Research provides actionable market research solutions to its clients via studies and business intelligence gathered through scientific processes and methodologies. The company provides an array of market research services in South Africa and across the continent ranging from survey conceptualisation to design, recruitment, fieldwork, data processing, analysis and interpretation.

Advantages of the premium area

Sound residential neighbourhood

Durban North is a long-established, upper-middle class suburb with a sound, loyal residential community. The disposable income levels mean new businesses have an opportunity to succeed as the local community has the ability to support them.

Accessibility

Situated about halfway between the traditional Durban central business district and the emerging economic hub of Umhlanga, the area is easily accessible from the M4 highway and N2. The small aircraft Virginia Airport is within walking distance of Mackeurtan Avenue, while King Shaka International Airport is reached via either the M4 or the N2.

A daring rooster risks his life by running across Swapo Road to reach an indigenous plant bed in the centre island. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Social security

The area is well served with social and community infrastructure including outstanding government and private schools, medical and dental businesses, churches and other places of worship, and police, both private security companies and the SAPS. Entertainment demands are equally met with the extensive array of shopping centres and restaurants offering cuisines from around the world.

Property redevelopment

Swapo Road has generated substantial momentum for conversion into commercial space over the past two decades and that initiative is slowly filtering down the roads branching off the street into conversions. This shift into a mixed-use neighbourhood offers investors the potential to develop new commercial space. 

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