First urban green precinct in KZN

11 May 2011

SUREN NAIDOO
11 May 2011

An aerial view of what the multibillion-rand Dube City development, next to King Shaka Airport, could look like when completed in five to 10 years. The proposed new hotel is the shaded building and the TradePort.

 

The name Dube City may not be very familiar now, but in 10 years the multibillion-rand development will become “Africa’s first urban green precinct” and possibly the first to be located a stone’s throw from a major international airport.
Part of the greater Dube TradePort development, and a kilometre from King Shaka International Airport, the mini city is intended to become a 24-hour business, trade, leisure and entertainment hub.

All buildings in the 12ha area, which will undergo 220 000m2 of bulk development, will be “green buildings”, incorporating the latest green technologies to reduce their impact on the environment and to save energy and water.

The KwaZulu-Natal government-owned Dube TradePort Corporation is leading the development as the “master-planners” in a similar manner to Tongaat Hulett Developments’ projects at Umhlanga Ridge/Gateway. To facilitate the project, Dube TradePort has changed from a Section 21 company into a fully fledged public entity.

While the Airports Company of South Africa owns and runs King Shaka Airport, Dube TradePort owns the cargo terminal and is the major shareholder leading development of the support zones around the airport. It aims to turn the surrounding precinct into an “aerotropolis” – or airport city – over the next few decades.

“Dube City is the first phase of the commercial property development at Dube TradePort and our new headquarters is the first green building to go up,” said TradePort CEO Rohan Persad.

“It will be the first Green Star-rated building at an airport site in Africa and among the first in the world. We have invested about R130 million in the Dube TradePort headquarters, which is aimed at being a catalyst for the development of Dube City.
“We will take up about 3 000m2 of the 12 000m2 and we are letting out the rest to various airlines and aviation-related business and services. It will include a restaurant and conference and business facilities. We are naming the building 29º South – highlighting our global positioning and ambitions for Dube TradePort,” he said.

“Dube City is expected to secure billions of rand in property development over the next five to 10 years, including office blocks, airport hotels, upmarket retail outlets, restaurants, medical facilities and other leisure options.

“Essentially, we want a true 24-hour environment. The development has strict architectural guidelines in addition to its stringent green requirements,” said Persad.

He said there had been much interest in the development despite the current tough market conditions. However, the strict master planning meant many proposals were not being approved.

“To spur investment, we will also come in as joint partners or developers. Once the hotels or property projects are up, we will bring in institutional investors to buy them. This is what we have done with the next development to come on line at Dube City, which is a 200-300-room internationally branded three- to four-star hotel across the road from our building.

“We hope to make headway on this hotel and mixed-used property project by the end of the year. It will also become one of the first green star-rated hotels in South Africa when it is complete. We are looking to get an international hotel operator of the likes of Novotel, Radisson, Hilton or Best Western,” said Persad.

He said the vision for Dube TradePort was to develop the land around the airport into an “aerotropolis” and global airfreight trade gateway over the next two to three decades.

Economic Development and Tourism MEC Michael Mabuyakhulu said at the weekend that King Shaka was never intended to be just an airport.

“When we decided to invest in King Shaka, we made it very clear that we did not just want to relocate from the old Durban airport. It was part of a bigger plan to secure new economic activities into KZN, in addition to regaining international air connectivity for the region,” he said.