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Monday Sep 03, 2012

Umhlanga's skyline is changing

New five-star hotels, an upmarket mall, restaurants and a hospital are projects rapidly changing Umhlanga's skyline.

A view of Umhlanga's skyline from the beachfront.

"It is very likely that in excess of R4 billion has been, or is being, invested in the northern part of the city, much of this in the Umhlanga Ridge area," said Andrew Layman, chief executive officer of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Layman said Umhlanga has become the commercial and residential hub of choice for companies and people.

"Many people aspire to live there because it is a very attractive area and also, considering the commercial developments, it might be close to their places of work," said Layman.

One of the key developments in the Umhlanga Village area, a mega-project of the Edison Property group, is being finalised.

Sindiswa Mzamo, chief executive officer of Edison Property, said their development, at the old municipal offices site, would be similar to Melrose Arch in Joburg. While she was not able to divulge the cost of the investment, she said it would be a state-of-the-art mall.

"There will be a hotel, doctors consulting rooms and generally a one-stop attraction for people coming to Umhlanga," said Mzamo, adding the cleanliness, safety and good services was the reason for the development in Umhlanga.

She said the company was finalising the details of the development and more details would be known soon.

Situated on land just above the old municipal buildings, the Beacon Rock development is well under way, and it contains space for motor dealerships, offices and retail outlets.

The Umhlanga Centre, and the Pearls development are some of the other big developments and upgrades in the central business district.

Details of a new private hospital, Gateway Hospital, will also be announced next week.

Brian Wright, project leader of Umhlanga's Urban Improvement Precinct (UIP), an organisation that works with the area's municipality and property owners in maintaining the area's public spaces, said the work they had been doing over the past five years had contributed to the area's investment and development.

"We are about creating good public open spaces and instilling investor confidence," said Wright.

He said there was about R4bnworth of development being undertaken in Umhlanga, and it showed that people viewed the area as safe and clean, resulting in property owners "taking ownership of their spaces".

Wright said other upgrades to the area included plans for creating a children's playground at Durban View Park, similar to that at Mitchell Park in Morningside.

Heinz de Boer, councillor for the area, said: "There is no doubt Umhlanga is an attractive place to do business, it's clean and neat and safe."

He said many of the developments began years ago and are now coming to fruition.

"Through the support of many departments, we have become an investor friendly town, and prime land is being scooped up rapidly, even the land near Gateway."

The Independent on Sunday

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