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Tuesday May 28, 2013

Nedbank invests in Durban CBD project

In a major investment in the Durban city centre, banking giant Nedbank is investing R100 million in a new 7 000m building on the site of its city headquarters in Kingsmead opposite the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.

An artist's impression of the new 7 000m2 office building opposite the Durban ICC.

But construction is being held up by town planning delays by the eThekwini Municipality, Nedbank property executives have told The Mercury.

The project is the most significant private sector commercial property investment in the Durban city centre announced this year.

It is also the biggest development near the ICC precinct since the opening of the R460m ICC Arena in 2007 and the scrapping of plans to build a new hotel next to the arena.

"Nedbank is investing about R100m to expand our Kingsmead regional office... The plan entails the construction of additional office space and a significant number of parking bays to support the new offices, and to address a portion of the existing belowstandard parking ratio," said Charl de Kock, Nedbank's head of group property services.

"The site preparation commenced earlier in anticipation of a quick town planning process. However, we are still awaiting final approval from council before we can commence with construction," De Kock said.

De Kock said Nedbank decided to make the investment in its flagship Kingsmead site, following a strategic decision a few years ago to consolidate the bank's 12 offices scattered in and around the Durban area in three large precincts, including those at Kingsmead, Ridgeside in Umhlanga and Sugarmill in Mount Edgecombe.

"The construction of the additional offices at Kingsmead is the last part of our strategic intent to consolidate our staff into these three campuses...

"It also provided a great opportunity to address some of our existing parking challenges at the Kingsmead building where the parking ratio is low compared to modern office block requirements," he said.

The Nedbank Ridgeside office, which was developed a couple of year ago to the tune of more than R120m, has been recognised as one of only a handful of buildings in South Africa that has received both a design and "as built" four-star Green Star rating from the Green Building Council of South Africa.

The rating was for its achievements in sustainable architecture, designed to save water and electricity and other building innovations.

While the new Kingsmead building would include "green building" elements, De Kock said, there were no plans for it to be rated by the Green Building Council.

"In line with our green building and sustainability aspirations, we will construct this new development according to best-practice principles with electricity and water efficiency and sustainable building practices as focus points," he said.

The Kingsmead development would qualify for the government's Urban Development Zone (UDZ) tax incentive scheme for businesses to invest developments and upgrades in major metropolitan CBDs in the country to bolster urban renewal.

According to the eThekwini Municipality's strategic projects unit, Durban has attracted more than R1.7 billion in investment in developments and building upgrades in the city through the UDZ scheme.

This has mainly been in the CBD core around the city hall and in the Kingsmead Office Park.

De Kock said Nedbank had started the process of applying and claiming for UDZ benefits in the light of the bank's office investment in Kingsmead.

"We see it as a concurrent process with construction which we are hopeful will commence in earnest soon," he added.

The Mercury


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