A view of the Dunlop site, 265 Sydney Road in Durban.
Come August 2016, the 130 000m² Dunlop manufacturing plant in Sydney Road will have morphed into state-of-the art warehousing geared to take advantage of logistics and import and export activities linked to the port.
JT Ross development director, Grant Smith said the tyre manufacturing plant was now officially decommissioned and demolition of defunct infrastructure was well on its way. Completion is scheduled for the third quarter providing over 70 000 square meters of lettable warehousing.
In August 2015 the company took ownership of the property which had changed hands just twice before in its 80-year life span. It was first owned by the Dunlop group and then by the Indian based Apollo tyre production company. Smith said the property group’s investment in 265 Sydney Road was based on the proximity to the harbour. Its position he said had resulted in the land retaining its value despite its ageing infrastructure.
Tony Blaunfeldt, who heads up the Umbilo Business Forum said he looked forward to interacting with the property group, particularly as the development would assist in arresting urban decay in the industrial district.
“We are delighted to have such a major player move into the area,” he said.In a similar vein, economic and urban development expert Glen Robbins called on Transnet and the city to take responsibility for much needed upgrades in both the port and its surrounds.
“There is always demand for well-managed urban regeneration. JT Ross has a great track record. There are a vast range of businesses in Umbilo who could benefit from this development. It also makes sense to regenerate existing urban areas particularly if you compare the high cost of developing far from the city. This whole investment creates a great opportunity for the city to tackle the issue of bad buildings in that area as well,” he said.
Doug Ross, who owns the property company, according to Smith, travels extensively looking at urban developments and how best practice can be duplicated at home. “This is a massive vote of confidence in the Durban economy. We believe in the future of this city and what we have done at both the Lion Match Factory and now at the Dunlop site. These projects are in line with international best practice. We have a vision of how old, but revamped industrial sites, can act as catalysts for a place where it is a pleasure to do business, in an environment based on contemporary design and world-class environmental practices,” he said.