The hospital site, the roof of the shopping centre and the train lines going into the basement station.
Development at Bridge City (to the north of Durban) is gathering momentum with the precinct not only emerging as a key investment location but also as a strategic regional precinct and transport hub.
Brian Ive, a Development Executive at Tongaat Hulett Developments, said that a number of sales had been concluded recently and that construction of two of these developments was due to begin during the first quarter of 2016. So far, half of the sites within the Bridge City Town Centre have been sold whilst there are just four sites available in the 17-hectare Bridge City Business Estate.
Bridge City is being developed as the second leg of the Effingham Development Joint Venture Public Private Sector Partnership between the eThekwini Municipality and Tongaat Hulett. The first was the highly successful Riverhorse Valley Business Estate. However, whilst the latter is primarily industrial with a single hospital, Bridge City is a mixed use development that will provide for light industrial use as well as accommodate medical, commercial, retail and residential elements.
Ive said that the holistic planning of the area catered for each of these crucial elements and was expected to make a significant contribution to providing employment for and uplifting communities within the neighbouring Inanda, Ntuzuma and KwaMashu (INK) area.
He added that, as the civils and services contract for the Business Estate had been completed, construction of new projects could now start.
Bridge City is expected to mainly attract companies within the retail, residential, warehousing and logistics sectors due to its close proximity to major arterial routes and to the King Shaka International Airport. Major infrastructural upgrades that include construction of a half diamond interchange off the M25 that will provide dedicated access into Bridge City and to Phoenix Industrial Park and upgrades to the road network around Bridge City, will further enhance this.
“We believe that infrastructure delivery is key and will go a long way to establishing Bridge City as a centre of excellence in an area that was previously under serviced,” Ive commented.
The provision of good medical services will also do much to uplift the INK communities and transform the Bridge City area into an integrated human settlement.
Construction of the Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme Memorial Hospital, a 500 bed state hospital that forms part of the KZN Department of Health’s Hospital Revitalisation Plan, began in February 2015 and has already reached the second floor level. “The structure will be complete by the end of 2018 with finishing and commissioning expected in 2019. It will open at the end of 2019, creating massive job and residential development opportunities within Bridge City,” Ive said.
Recently, three town centre sites along Bridge City Boulevard opposite the Magistrates Court have been sold for the development of a 150 bed private hospital. The design review process is completed and plans are being submitted for approval, with construction of this facility expected to begin early in 2016.
Already there are plans to construct residential accommodation above the Bridge City Shopping Centre as well as on the northern side of the retail complex. However, the greatest opportunities for investors will come via development of mixed use developments to accommodate additional medical facilities and practices, legal chambers and associated professional services. Ive said top end services suitable for professionals, including a fibre optic backbone will be put in place.
He noted that the highly successful Bridge City Shopping Centre that anchors the Town Centre and offers 68 000 square metres of retail space to major retail brands and chains, is the precursor to other retail developments. Ithala owns the site between the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court and the new state hospital and plans a mixed use/residential development. Further retail developments are expected to follow shortly.
Crucial services such as the Magistrate’s Court, the hospital and the offices of various government departments are expected to increase the footfall through the area.
However, the key to creating a thriving regional precinct and attracting investors will be the development of Bridge City into one of the city’s largest inter-modal transport facilities. On completion, it is expected to be the second busiest transport interchange in the city, second only to Berea Road / Warwick Junction.
The Bridge City railway station which is located underneath the Bridge City Shopping Centre was commissioned in early 2014. Presently 22 trains are running to and from Bridge City to the Durban CBD.
The first phase of the GO!Durban integrated rapid public transport network (IRPTN) is also well underway and expected to be completed in 2018 with Bridge City as the meeting point for three bus rapid transport (BRT) corridors linking it to the Durban CBD, Pinetown and Umhlanga.
The City’s bus terminal adjacent to the Bridge City Shopping Centre will be upgraded to accommodate the BRT’s mega and midi buses.
It is anticipated that, once Bridge City is fully developed, the railway station/ inter-modal facility will accommodate approximately 100 000 commuters every day. The BRT line to Pinetown (currently under construction and due for completion at the end of 2016) and a third linking to Cornubia and Umhlanga and another ultimately to the King Shaka Airport, will ensure that Bridge City becomes a hub of Durban’s public transport connectivity in the near future.
In light of this, the eThekwini Municipality has purchased a four-hectare site in the Business Estate for development into a BRT bus depot where repairs and maintenance of the city’s BRT bus fleet will be undertaken.
The taxi rank, which is currently temporarily situated on top of the Bridge City Shopping Centre, will be relocated possibly to the existing rank north of Besters interchange.
“As soon as the transport nodes are complete, we expect property prices to appreciate considerably which ensures sound long term return on investment for developers,” Ive observed.
Another sound anchor for Bridge City is its already established Bridge City Management Association which is headed up by Brian Wright, General Manager. This is responsible for security, with a 24-hour rapid armed response system already in place and cleaning of the roads and urban spaces. The entire precinct will be monitored via CCTV and permanent Metro Police presence at Bridge City.