The John Ross Eco-junction was officially presented by Arctic Sun as land developer, and Liberty Properties, as property developer and property manager, to stakeholders from the local municipality, trade and industry with a positive forecast for Liberty’s prime 195,000m² development within the City of uMhlatuze. John Ross Eco Junction is identified as a ‘Special Zone Business Park 1’ development, which allows for a greater variety of mixed commercial land use. Prospective tenants are able to consolidate sites within the greater development for larger land use.
Amelia Beattie, Chief Investment Officer of STANLIB Direct Property Investments said that the Liberty Property Portfolio is exploring exciting new opportunities in retail and industrial property that have potential to grow and enhance the yield of the portfolio over time. The John Ross land acquisition gives the fund welcome exposure to the industrial property sector, which has historically delivered strong capital growth and higher yields. The exposure also improves the diversification of the portfolio, not only by sector, but region as well.
Beattie said that the portfolio’s investment philosophy is based on investing for the long term, in quality assets and economically growing nodes. High growth rates and exceptional development opportunities characterise the uMhlatuze node. Given the planned infrastructure spend in this area by Transnet over the next seven years, investment in this region is expected to increase significantly, and with this, demand for real estate. The 30 sites are appropriate for commercial workshops, light industrial, motor dealerships, general showrooms, office buildings, warehouses, wholesale and factory shops. A hospital, motor showrooms and a distribution centre are in the planning stage.
Liberty Properties has been awarded the mandate to manage the development on behalf of Liberty Group. Maurice Mdlolo, Managing Director at Liberty Properties says: ‘What makes this parcel of land so attractive is its road frontage on the main route between the economic powerhouses of Richard Bay and Empangeni, and the N2 highway linking Durban and Pongola. John Ross Eco Junction presents accessibility to a road network that sees an intense movement of people, goods and services. We hope that this project will make a significant contribution to job creation in northern KZN.’
Beattie said that John Ross Eco Junction will be developed as an eco-sensitive, energy-efficient space, with emphasis on sustainability. ‘It is our intention that this development will be one of South Africa’s first Green Star industrial parks. Careful attention will be given to the conservation of the rehabilitated wetland areas on site. Sustainable elements such as rainwater capture, permeable paving, indigenous plant life and renewable energy sources will be incorporated. We are conscious of our impact on the environment we invest into.’
Arctic Sun is currently putting in place infrastructural services to prepare the land for development. Construction on John Ross Eco Junction is expected to start in October 2013.