Durban CBD consists of contradictions. Many buildings are very old, with a fascinating history behind them, while a few are bright, modern structures; the complete antithesis of the old ones. The populace reflects a variety of cultures, colours, or ancestry, though proudly South African. Tourists come from far and wide to experience the pleasant, subtropical climate, endless beaches, historic buildings or the cosmopolitan atmosphere. The CBD is abuzz with traditional shops or informal vendors; buses or taxis contrast with eye catching rickshaws; mainstream entertainment vies with impromptu pavement performances. “Commerce cannot but flourish in this wonderful atmosphere, causing Durban to be one of the most rapidly growing hubs in the country,” says Leon Breytenbach, National Manager of the Rawson Property Group’s commercial division.
Location and access
Durban CBD lies adjacent to the port which is one of the busiest container ports in the southern hemisphere, besides welcoming passenger ships. “Spoornet provides an efficient goods shipment service from the interior of the country to the port of Durban, while the Shosholoza Meyl’s long-haul passenger trains travel between Johannesburg and Durban,” explains Breytenbach. Metrorail’s commuter trains serve those employed within the CBD. King Shaka International Airport, situated at La Mercy, 33 kilometres north of the CBD via the N2, provides air access. Municipal buses traverse the greater city area, while both metered and minibus taxis are readily available. The N3 freeway links Durban to Johannesburg, almost 600 kilometres north. The N2 freeway extends from Durban, southwards via East London, then Port Elizabeth, culminating in Cape Town. Northwards the N2 gives access to north coast resorts before turning inland to Mpumalanga. These freeways form a network with the M4, M13, M19, in addition to excellent inner city roads, allowing access to all points of the compass.
Tourism is a significant industry in the Durban CBD as the port attracts many related businesses such as shipping, maritime or insurance companies, while legal, financial or transport firms are well represented. Besides a large amount of office space, the Durban CBD boasts a full spectrum of chain stores, souvenir shops, malls like the Workshop Mall, plus markets such as the Victoria Market offering Indian or African food, spices, clothing, crafts or curios. Dr Yusaf Dadoo Street, previously Grey Street, houses many of the original Indian-owned clothing or fabric stores.
According to the SAPOA Office Vacancy Report dated October 2017, the Durban CBD boasts 752,976 square metres of office space, of which 313,565 square metres comprise C grade space while A and B grade space each comprise of slightly more than 200,000 square metres. Of this, an amount of 39,675 square metres of A grade, 28,981 square metres of B grade as well as 58,114 square metres of C grade space are currently vacant. The vacancy percentage at the end of September stood at 16.8%, which though high, is somewhat lower than the 18.3% recorded nine months ago. The average rental for A grade space is R100 per square metre, while B and C grades cost R88 and R60 per square metre, respectively. “There is no new development in the pipeline at present, but old buildings are frequently given a facelift before being remarketed,” says Breytenbach.
Durban CBD lies within two kilometres of some impressive beaches, with many more outside the city. Accommodation is readily available, ranging from high-end hotels like the Hilton or the Balmoral, to luxury holiday apartments, budget family accommodation or guest houses. “There are museums, art galleries or theatres to visit, while the Botanic Gardens, Snake Park, close by is the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Kings Park Rugby Stadium plus the Kingsmead Cricket Stadium,” says Breytenbach. The Durban International Convention Centre hosts many international events.
Medical or dental practitioners are available within the CBD, while Addington, St Aidan’s or City Hospital, all provide excellent medical care. Schools, both public and private, are located within or near the city centre, as is UNISA, DUT, as well as Damelin Tertiary Institution.
Is Durban the answer?
Companies are attracted to Durban CBD as commercial property rentals are affordable, transport is available, manpower is plentiful, while there is plenty of scope for new business. The weather is wonderful as are the beaches. What more could any business owner wish for?