Developers have broken ground on the first phase of a major new development in KwaZulu-Natal, which will see a new ‘mini city’ built between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
The first phase of the development is Westown, a mixed-use and retail component of the greater Shongweni Urban Development project.
Westown is being developed by Fundementum, with the greater project – valued at R30 billion – being done through a partnership between eThekwini Municipality and sugar giant Tongaat Hulett.
The project has suffered several delays due to Tongaat Hulett’s financial woes, as well as the Covid pandemic in 2020/21.
According to the developers, the first phase of the project was ready to launch in 2020 but suffered delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The start of construction on Westown, the first retail and mixed-use component within Shongweni, is imminent,” said Fundamentum CEO, Carlos Correia.
“Tender calls have gone out for the first, key infrastructural components. This catalytic project has been a long time in the making and the development team is excited to finally get it underway.”
Fundamentum describes Westown as a ‘new-town-in-town’ that will create an economic base for the sub-region. “Much of this economic base will be grounded in urban sustainability,” it said, adding that it will anchor the larger Shongweni Urban Development.
eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the R30 billion development is a nine-phase urban mixed-use project that aims to create a new economic hub in the region. He said it will be like the region’s own ‘Midrand’, sitting as a mid-point between two large cities (Durban and Pietermaritzburg).
“It will further catalyse investment in the city and stimulate job creation and investment,” he said.
Kaunda said the Westown component is phase 1A of the project, with the precinct valued at R2.5 billion. It will serve as a retail and urban core hub which will include the retail high street mall, a new hospital, residential apartments, and commercial and business properties.
The city of eThekwini is investing R595 million towards municipal infrastructure for the first phase. For all nine phases of the project, the city has invested R3 billion for bulk infrastructure, Kaunda said.
R200 million will be allocated to local suppliers for the project, and 8,000 jobs will be created.
The first phase is expected to be completed by Q3 2024. The project is expected to deliver returns of R300 million a year to the revenues of the municipality.