The collective suburb of Berea, comprising smaller suburbs like Greyville, Musgrave and Upper Glenwood, was once home to some of the oldest manors in Durban. The residential side of the area reflects this in its still prevalent British colonial architecture."However, in a business-driven avant-garde approach, the suburb has since converted some of its homes, Victorian and Edwardian alike, into prime office space," says Leon Breytenbach, National Manager of the Rawson Property Group’s commercial division. "This affluent residential area, and the surrounding regions, is an integral puzzle piece of Durban’s greater commercial picture," he says.
Berea – which calls the Indian Ocean neighbour has plenty to offer potential businesses looking for work space. It is set on a ridge overlooking Durban’s city centre and is dissected by the N3, which affords the suburb easy access to the CBD and quick bus trips, some 5km, to local beaches and the centre itself. The Berea train station is located 2.9km away – just off the freeway if you head towards the city centre – and connects to the Dalbridge and Durban Train Station, further down and further up the coast. "The Durban Harbour – one of the busiest ports in Africa – is also present in the area, not some 20 mins away, and makes for efficient logistics when importing and exporting. With national and international trade in mind, 15 minutes is all it takes to reach the close Virginia Airport via the M4," says Breytenbach.
The collective has quite a fair amount of parks in close vicinity; some of the most notable being the Burman Bush Nature Reserve, the Durban Botanic Garden, Jameson Park, and Mitchell Park – which lends its grassy lands to various little fauna. Some other attractions and amenities in the area include The Beachwood Golf Course, the renowned KwaZulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Durban Country Club. The Berea (shopping) Centre, just west of the suburb services most of the region’s retail needs – however there are plenty other shopping malls throughout the area. "One also needs to consider the large amount of eclectic pavement restaurants and hotelsthat spot the suburb. Just these factors taken into account, the region sees a considerable amount of commuters throughout the year," says Breytenbach.
"An act indicative of the suburbs commercial strength – Stor-Age, the provider of self-storage units, recently opened up flagship offices in Berea. Why this is notable is because the company, for the year ending March 31 2016, raked in distributable earnings of R38.9m, which was 23% higher than the listing forecast. With a year like that nipping on their heels, they quickly chose to expand to Berea," explains Breytenbach.
As of last year, according to the SAPOA report, the highest office vacancy rates in the country befell the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, in which Berea resides. However, given the stabilisation of the market across all office grades and the inevitably sway in vacancy rates, the office sector still seems firmly on track to recovery.
"Increasing vacancies could also lead to cheaper office rentals. If we take a closer look at Berea specifically, the gross asking rentals for square metre of space (R/m2) at the end of 2016 for office grades A, B, and C were R115, R108 and R93 respectively. Which is relatively on par with the majority of Cape Town and Johannesburg – if not quite a bit cheaper. The development activity in the municipality was low in 2016, making up only part of 5% of the total developments for the year. Less office spaces being constructed and remaining unlet, could shore up the occupation rate for the region," says Breytenbach.
If you’re interested in learning about commercial property in the suburb, Rawson Commercial currently has offices countrywide and will gladly assist you wherever possible. Please contact (021) 658 7100 and we will refer you to your nearest office.