Boost for big city projects
05 March 2018 | Web Article Number: ME20188889
BIG projects that can play a significant role in boosting the local economy and creating jobs will now be fast-tracked, thanks to the creation of a dedicated Catalytic Projects Office in the eThekwini Municipality.
That was the welcome news to emerge from the latest meeting of the full Council, following years of growing concern at the slow pace of large developments including the Point Waterfront, old Natal Command site and the Centrum.
The new office will be located within the Economic Development and Planning Cluster and staffed by hand-picked officials from various units across the Metro.
Chairperson of the Economic Development and Planning Committee, Councillor Sipho Kaunda said that while there were staff dealing with catalytic projects in the city, they had been seconded from other units.
“Having all the relevant staff from the relevant units sitting under one roof will attract investors and encourage them to make decisions faster. Also, this Office will address the slow pace of implementation of catalytic projects in the City,” said Kaunda.
The Council nod for the new office followed a report to the municipality’s Executive Committee (Exco) on the progress of the city’s catalytic projects which painted a decidedly mixed picture when it came to progress and economic impact.
On the positive side, Deputy City Manager of Economic Development and Planning Phillip Sithole, reported that the first phase of the Keystone Logistics and Business Hub at Cato Ridge had been completed. He put the investment value at R6 billion and said 9 000 jobs were created. The rates income per annum is expected to be R15 million. “This project was a catalyst to revive Hammersdale, as industries were dying there. Due to this investment we have seen a revival in this area. This project showcases what we want to see happening in the city where there was the participation of local businesses in the project with sub-contracting work given to local business. Jobs were also created,” Sithole said.
Turning to the Point Waterfront Development, he said all approvals were in place and that the promenade extension, which was a City investment, would be launched in March, adding that the contractor was now on site. The investment for the project over the next 10 to 15 years is estimated to be around R30 billion to R35 billion with 11 000 construction jobs and 6 750 permanent jobs to be created. R200 million in rates per annum is expected to be generated. He said further possibilities of the Point Waterfront Development project could include a residential component, the potential for a mall and hotel as well as land sale in progress to accommodate a high-end office park.
Regarding the Durban Film City, Sithole said the city was still in negotiations with the Department of Defence regarding the transfer of the Natal Command site to the city so it can then in turn be transferred to Durban Film City.
He said however, certain components did not have to wait for the land transfer to be complete, particularly on land already owned by the city.
“The developers are ready to start on parcels of land available. Through the intervention of the City Manager Sipho Nzuza we have had several meetings with investors regarding the slow progress and through his intervention we are seeing progress,” Sithole said.
The Centrum Site required its own in-depth presentation, he said, as it was an important site for the City. He said it will help attract investors as well as build investor confidence. He said the long awaited new city library would be the first project undertaken there with the Supply Chain Management processes (SCM) regarding this development underway.
He also touched on the Virginia Airport site and the proposed Durban Iconic Tower. Sithole said the proposal to develop the airport site was an unsolicited bid which was not approved by the Bid Adjudication Committee who stated that it must be an open tender process.
“This will be brought back to Council and go out for open tender. There have been media reports that we are doing away with the project which is not true.”
Responding to questions about the site and if it could remain an airport Sithole said as it stands the Council decision taken was that it be a high-end mixed use development which remains and would only change if another decision was taken by Council. Sithole said the proposed Iconic Tower would also not go the route of an unsolicited bid and would also be following the open tender route.
Projects underway include the Pearls Umhlanga, The Arch, Nedbank Square, Suncoast Casino, Clairwood Logistics Park, Cornubia and Dube Tradeport.