Published on : Friday, November 15, 2019
The R380-million extension of Durban’s famous beachfront promenade by almost a kilometre – from u Shaka Marine World at the Point Waterfront to the entrance of SA’s busiest port – is anticipated to spark further investment in the area.
That’s the word from Phillip Sithole, eThekwini Municipality’s deputy city manager for economic development and planning, speaking exclusively to Moneyweb on Thursday. The metro officially launches the new section of the promenade to the public on Saturday.
“This is a major investment by the municipality into Durban’s most important tourism asset. It is a catalytic project aimed at taking the beachfront to another level and unlocking investment both into the broader beachfront and especially in the Point Waterfront,” he said.
Sithole tells Moneyweb that the extension makes the beachfront promenade now over 8km long – from the Umgeni River mouth at Blue Lagoon to the Durban harbour entrance, adjacent to the multi-billion-rand Point Waterfront urban renewal development.
“This makes it the longest uninterrupted beachfront promenade in Africa. Through this city investment and further private sector investment to come, we believe the promenade will become recognised internationally, together with the likes of Copacabana in Rio and Bondi Beach in Australia,” he adds.
Durban’s beachfront promenade and the Umhlanga Rocks promenade, north of the city, both received extreme makeovers to the tune of some R200 million ahead of the Fifa World Cup in 2010. This gave the beachfront a new lease of life, bringing new visitors to the area – including joggers, cyclists and families – particularly over weekends.
Since then the Durban beachfront has attracted major private sector investment, with JSE-listed hospitality giant Tsogo Sun alone injecting more than R1.8 billion into the area. This includes a R1.5 billion expansion of its popular Suncoast Casino complex and a R220 million revamp of its 734-room Elangeni & Maharani Hotel at North Beach.
Another noteworthy investment in the area was by Morocco-based Onomo Hotels, which is on a major expansion drive in SA and on the continent. It invested some R150 million in a new 160-room hotel, while other local beachfront hoteliers and property owners have also invested in revamps.
He says there is a bigger vision for the Point Waterfront development now, with ambitious new plans by the new co-owners of the land, UEM Sunrise Berhad – a major Malaysian-based property developer.
UEM Sunrise has kept a low profile in SA but the Point Waterfront mega-development features strongly on its international website. Moneyweb could not reach the company for comment.
“Following the completion of the promenade extension by the city, the first phase of the new development plans for the Point Waterfront is anticipated to be launched next year,” says Sithole.
“This will include a hotel tower and residential tower, in addition to a new shopping mall next to uShaka. Various investors are interested, but UEM Sunrise will be driving the process that will also include local partners.”