John Ross Eco Junction is a diversified commercial and industrial development across 30 sites , which are appropriate for commercial workshops, light industrial, motor dealerships, general showrooms, office buildings, warehouses, wholesale and mini factory units. The development will primarily serve areas around the greater uMhlathuze municipality which includes Richards Bay, Empangeni, KwaMbonambi and Mtunzini.
The greater uMhlathuze municipality is a high growth area; it has a GDP of R3.7 billion and a GDP growth rate of 4% per annum, and is home to some of the country’s biggest manufacturing stalwarts such as Mondi and BHP Billiton.
Amelia Beattie, Chief Investment Officer of STANLIB Direct Property Investments (asset manager for Liberty Group), is upbeat about the John Ross Eco Junction investment. She said Liberty is consistently looking at channelling investments into growth areas that deliver solid growth levels over the long-term.
“John Ross Eco Junction is a step towards increasing our footprint in the industrial property sector. We are pleased that this deal has been concluded and foresee that there will be more of this nature given the current appetite and demand for quality automotive retail floor space in this region. Another strong draw card for tenants is that John Ross Eco Junction will be developed in an environmentally sustainable fashion with specific focus on rainwater capture, permeable paving, renewable energy sources and the conservation of indigenous plant life.” added Beattie.
The first tenant deal for the John Ross Eco Junction industrial development has been signed. Liberty Properties, who have been awarded the mandate to develop and lease the undertaking on behalf of the property owners, Liberty Group, have concluded a ten year lease agreement with Tangawizi Motors for four reputable motor dealership brands: Hyundai, Daihatsu, Renault and Honda.
Speaking on behalf of Tangawizi Motors Eddie Reid says “We are excited to be part of John Ross Eco Junction, the site is ideally situated with great visibility from the main arterial roads, which can only be good for our business. Our clients can look forward to state of the art showrooms, a fully comprehensive parts department and a twenty bay workshop which will alleviate long lead times, when our customers want to service their cars.”
Site preparation is ongoing and is expected to be complete by the first quarter of 2014 where after development of the dealerships and other tenant premises’ will commence. Once development is complete, the four dealerships will occupy a total floor space of approximately 7 060m².
Graham Kusano, Divisional Director of Liberty Group Property Development described this tenant agreement as an exciting milestone for the John Ross Eco Junction development and a “demonstration of Richards Bay’s positive economic situation.” Kusano continued that Liberty recognises the importance of the automotive sector in South Africa’s economic growth. This sector contributes approximately 6% to the country’s GDP and employs about 200,000 people[i]. “We are pleased to be involved in John Ross Eco Junction and see this investment as a boost to economic growth in Richards Bay and the mainstream economy.” says Kusano.
Kusano reported that the number of enquiries from potential tenants has increased in recent weeks and negotiations with the likes of warehouse, motor show rooms, mini factories, hospital operators and distribution centre users are in the advanced stages. “Premises are built according to the tenant’s exact specifications, ensuring that the design suits the individual operational demands of each tenant.”