KZN's multibillion-rand iconic Umhlanga Arch in a league of its own
KwaZulu-Natal's upmarket residential and business hub of Umhlanga is set to welcome another landmark.
Economic development and tourism MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube conducted an oversight visit on Tuesday at the R2.2bn Umhlanga Arch development which is set to officially launch soon.
The 45,000m2 development is made up of commercial office space formed in the shape of an iconic glass arch, a 203-room internationally acclaimed Hilton Hotel, 170 residential apartments in a 32-storey tower block and upmarket retail stores and restaurants, all of which are underpinned by an SMG dealership for BMW SA.
Marc Rosenberg, director of the private investment company The Multiply Group, said the Umhlanga Arch would be centred around experiences.
"When we were conceptualising the design, we saw the 'live, work, play' model was one that is working exceptionally well. We found that wherever people go in the world, they are looking for convenience. It was important for us to do something that would be very impactful," he said.
Rosenberg said the Umhlanga Arch was sculpted around the notion of people, brands and experiences.
"It's the experience you will walk away with that will leave you fulfilled. All the spaces have been tailored to suit the experiential element of getting out of our homes."
Rosenberg said the four-star Hilton Garden Inn was SA's first fully integrated smart hotel.
"You can check in on your mobile device, which then becomes your room key, your TV remote, your aircon remote, which is perfect for the Covid-19 world. The developers wanted it to be a technologically advanced building and they invested a lot of time, money and effort creating the infrastructure that would allow this."
In the residential section, most of two and three bedroom apartments have already been sold.
"We have one or two units on resale. We tried to make the apartments affordable. We have also created apartments for affordable rentals to encourage young professionals to use those spaces."
In the retail space, Rosenberg said the approach was to differentiate themselves by ensuring they didn't fall into the trap of being "another mall with the same big-name brands and franchises".
"People are fundamental to the success and growth of our economy. If you look around our city, there are great businesses. We found them. They are all family run and owner-operated businesses."
The cobblestone street tucked away in the heart of the structure brings a vintage and European feel to the open space.
Known as the "high-street", Rosenberg said it would be used to celebrate the people of the city by bringing together local musicians, fashion designers, artists and comedians to add to the experiences on offer.
He said the food hall, called the Legacy Yard, comprised hand-picked chefs from around Durban.
"We picked some of the best chefs and independent operators in our city, who don't necessarily have the means and capabilities to invest in their own restaurants. We have invested for them so they can use the space and platform to grow franchises and their own businesses."
Charles Thompson, CEO of Devmco, one of the main developers of the project, said given the prime location, it was imperative they created an iconic building.
"In terms of tall buildings, defined as a building that exceeds 30 floors, we haven't a tall building come up in the Umhlanga/Durban region in probably two decades. Durban has many box-shaped buildings and this is the first iconic design that will leave a lasting impression."
Dube-Ncube lauded the Umhlanga Arch team for completing a uniquely designed development in three years.
"It's one of the projects we have been looking at in that has the 'wow' factor. This iconic building is the sort of inspirational design we are looking for in the province," she said.
"I think one thing Covid-19 has taught us is that there is so much greatness in working together, business and government. We've grown, interacted, shared so much pain and worked together."