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Monday Aug 06, 2012

Durban beachfront properties still standing empty

Three vacant restaurant buildings on the Durban beachfront would not be filled any time soon because of a lack of tenants, Durban Tourism chief executive officer Philip Sithole said yesterday.

The vacant restaurant building close to the Rachel Finlayson swimming pool.

"We advertised the space but have not got the right kind of responses.

"The city has gone out to look but we are not getting the right mix of tenants," he said.

"We would prefer to have experienced restaurateurs. The city is looking for experience, quality and variety."

The city was mindful that previously disadvantaged communities had not had an opportunity to trade at the beachfront and it was considering this in the selection process.

The vacant restaurant building at the top of Dr Pixley ka Seme (West) St.

Durban Tourism has been working on a full upgrade of the beachfront that will only be completed next year.

"We are now working on the second phase of the beachfront upgrade," said Sithole.

"This includes extending the promenade to the Blue Lagoon, bringing the swimming pools up to standard and creating an inner parking area at the Blue Lagoon. This project is going to cost about R79 million," he said.

"People want to go to a beach that is buzzing, this is why the city has spent millions on music shows, water sports and other events at the beachfront to make it a viable place for restaurants."

"We are not happy that the restaurants are not occupied. We plan to change the way we are advertising these vacancies and start re-advertising them by the end of October," he said.

The vacant restaurant building near Addington Hospital.

The Federated Hospitality Association of SA (Fedhasa) was unhappy with the lack of progress, though.

"We have offered the city our assistance," said Gerhard Patzer, east coast chairman of the association.

"The restaurants that we represent do not know the terms and cost of the leases of these buildings," he said.

"The city has been telling us the same thing since last year. We were assured that we would get a look at the leases but that has not happened yet."

Sithole said that the city was happy that the association wanted to work with it and all stakeholders, including the public, would be informed when the bidding processes (for the restaurants) was implemented.

"As much as we would like to be transparent, we have to remember that these are open tender processes which must be in line with the law, and supply-chain management processes," he said.

The association said it could help find tenants for the restaurants but only if the city let it.

The Mercury

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