City Centre at a glance
The Durban CBD is a melting pot of businesses that come together in the heart of the province. Here, blue-chip and multinational companies and small to medium businesses enjoy the benefits of being situated near key arterial routes, the Port of Durban (harbour) and a wide selection of amenities. The region is home to The Durban High Court, The Durban ICC, North and South Beach and various retail outlets, and financial and learning institutions including Woolworths, Damelin and FNB.
Durban is the largest city in KwaZulu-Natal and it is also the most populous in the province, these factors have enabled the city centre to evolve into a bustling metropolis that sustains an ever-growing urban populace. Spanning from Kingsmead through to Durban Point, the CBD comprises a number of streets, each with its own unique characteristics and business cultures. Most of the road names have been renamed to honour political activists, some of these include, Dr Yusuf Dadoo Street (Broad Street), Dr AB Xuma Street (Commercial Road), Dr Pixley KaSeme Street (West Street), Margaret Mncadi Avenue (Victoria Embankment) and Denis Hurley Street (Queen Street).
Since the CBD is the location of the port of entry, this has led to the widespread development of national roads around it. Businesses in the region benefit from a strong network of freeways and dual arterial carriageways which seamlessly connect the CBD to suburbs that lie to the north, west and south of the city. These include; the N3 Western Freeway which starts from the CBD and heads west under Tollgate Bridge, passing through the suburbs of Sherwood and Mayville. This freeway serves an integral purpose, it facilitates the transportation of freight from Witwatersrand to the port. The M4 freeway exists in two segments, both of which connects to the CBD in different directions. The northern part of the freeway starts from Durban North and leads to the northern edge of the CBD, whilst the southern segment, begins at the southern edge of the CBD, and connects to the old Durban airport, where it joins the N2 outer ring road.
The CBD is one of the most actively transforming areas in the province and has undergone various conflicting stages. From rapid transformation and stagnating development to its current chapter of renewed developer and investor interest, which will see it enter a new phase of transformation. The history of the CBD is based on two definitive historical events that have molded it into the place we know today. During the turbulent times of Apartheid, the CBD was a hotbed for racial division and each road was divided among racial lines. At the fall of the regime, post-1994, the CBD broke free of its racial divisions and embraced the new political system. This era saw the CBD rise to accommodate people from all walks of life and emerged as a central location for various types of businesses both big and small.
City Revitalisation – Overcoming the Development Gap
Taking a tour around central Durban is an experience of contradictions, on the one end, there are blue chip companies, luxury hotels and world-class restaurants, whilst on the other, there is abandoned and neglected buildings which have resulted in weak investor and developer confidence. However, this huge gap between development and underdevelopment will soon close as government and private businesses embark on a project to restore and transform the CBD into a new era of greatness.
The project is underpinned by a bylaw, titled, Problem Building, which provides for the identification, control and rehabilitation of neglected buildings and it creates offenses and penalties in the event of building invasions in areas within and surrounding the city centre.
With regard to the commercial sector, the project is expected to see a wealth of new A-Grade offices and precincts burgeon throughout the city, whilst, many older offices will either be restored or upgraded to premium status. Some of the office buildings that have been restored or planned for restoration include Quadrant House, Aqua Sky Towers and Ambassador House.
Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre
Opened in 1997 by the former president, Nelson Mandela, the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, in Bram Fischer Road, houses the Durban International Convention Centre, Hilton Hotel, and an arena and exhibition centre. The precinct is the first international centre in the country and through the years it has hosted several events, including the preliminary draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the COP17 meeting in 2011 and the International AIDS Conference in 2000 and 2016.
In 1986, the Workshop Shopping Centre took the place of the Durban Station, and through the decades, it has retained a historical feel owing to its age-old architecture and rich history. The shopping centre was borne out of the refurbishment of the Durban Station, which was constructed in 1860. Maintaining colonial architecture, the Workshop emanates echoes of the past through small details, including original iron girders that support a vaulted glass roof. It is located on Aliwal Street, near the Durban City Hall, the ICC, The Playhouse Theatre and the Moses Mabhida Stadium. Some of the shops in the Workshop include Truworths, Clicks, Wimpy, Markham, Mr. Price and Pick n Pay.
Moses Mabhida Stadium
Just 12 minutes away from the heart of the CBD, sits the Moses Mabhida Stadium. Not only is it the playground for national and international sporting games, as well as cultural events, it is perfect for casual meetings or lunch breaks as it the location of the People’s Park Café, Jacksonville Coffee and Nino’s, which provide breakfasts, light lunches and baked goods. Having been designed for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the stadium itself is an architectural masterpiece that has won 27 design awards to date. Comprising an iconic arch and more than a hundred columns, the stadium’s overpowering size greets all those who pass through the area.
As Durban’s CBD enters a new chapter defined by expansive development, restoration and heightened developer and investor confidence, it will be interesting to see how the region transforms to meet urban demands. Now, more than ever before is an opportune time for businesses to enter the CBD as many old buildings will be restored and new commercial developments will burgeon throughout.