Durban’s CBD is getting a much-needed shot in the arm, with the city’s hosting of the Common-wealth Games in 2022 and redevelopment of iconic buildings by the private sector.
It can be somewhat depressing travelling through Durban's CBD these days. Big business has virtually abandoned the once busy, vibrant areas and many of the older buildings have lost their sheen. It's a sorry tale, but it's a problem that continues to plague many of South Africa's cities.
The news that Durban is set to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022 has been welcomed across the board. The event will undoubtedly put Durban on the international map and the fact that plans to rejuvenate the inner city have been on the cards since 2013 means that many of the proposed projects will be completed long before the start of the games.
Things are already beginning to change and the news that the iconic Pixley House is undergoing a major facelift is something that should be celebrated.
Built in 1938 and formerly known as Prefcor House, Pixley House which is situated at 398 Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Seme (formerly West) Street offers one of the city's finest examples of Art Deco architecture. Originally home to the Payne Bro's Department Store, it went on to become the site of Game's head office and although the admin departments may have moved on, a Game store still features as an anchor tenant on the ground floor of the building.
Part of a major regeneration strategy that is planned for the city, in what was previously office space on the upper floors, is in the process of being transformed into 115 residential apartments by property development company Propertuity. Ranging in size from 28m2 to 147m2, the development features studio, one bedroom, two bedroom apartments as well as two penthouses.
Jonathan Liebmann founder and CEO of Propertuity says: "We are passionate about regenerating Durban's CBD and bringing new life to the city by introducing a new residential product onto the market. We are tremendously excited about the project and are expecting to move onto the site soon in order to start the actual building process."
The initiative has been welcomed across the board.
"The development has been very well received by the Durban market in particular, with massive interest in urban living," says Maxine Keet, marketing and lifestyle manager for Propertuity who is developing the building. The launch was a terrific success and featured a good mix of locals and visitors coming to support the initiative, despite the fact that Durban was experiencing difficult times due to xenophobic attacks at that time."
The Pixley House project is the first of is kind for the inner city, but it certainly won't be the last. Propertunity have invested around R500-million in Durban's CBD and has also secured a property situated at 320 Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Seme street that will be redeveloped into premium office space aimed at small-medium and large businesses and corporates. The company has also invested in Pioneer Place and Ambassador House as well as other iconic buildings within the city.
"By investing in a range of commercial and residential developments, Propertuity aims to create an integrated and mixed-use hub, stimulating Durban's economy and uplifting the inner city," says Keets.
Propertuity is renowned for putting the life back into areas that have lost their shine. In 2008 Lieb-mann purchased the old DF Corlett construction offices and warehouses that were originally built in 1911 and transformed the site into Arts on Main. Located on the eastern fringes of Johannesburg inner city, during construction, Liebmann broadened his vision and focussed on transforming the surrounding area into a fully integrated, mixed use community that offered a mixed-income resi-dential development. Today the area which has been renamed Maboneng (the Sotho word for place of light) boasts an array of developments that include, among other things, a hotel, office blocks and an array of residential apartments.