Durban beachfront promenade gets R380m extension

It’s now the longest uninterrupted waterfront promenade in Africa – making the city’s most important tourism asset even more attractive.
Part of the new Durban Point promenade. Future plans include a 'Durban Eye’ Ferris wheel, a mall adjacent to uShaka Marine World, and further mixed-use development. Image: Supplied

The R380-million extension of Durban’s famous beachfront promenade by almost a kilometre – from uShaka Marine World at the Point Waterfront to the entrance of SA’s busiest port – is anticipated to spark further investment in the area.

That’s the word from Phillip Sithole, eThekwini Municipality’s deputy city manager for economic development and planning, speaking exclusively to Moneyweb on Thursday. The metro officially launches the new section of the promenade to the public on Saturday.

Read: Durban demolishes derelict buildings to unlock new development

“This is a major investment by the municipality into Durban’s most important tourism asset. It is a catalytic project aimed at taking the beachfront to another level and unlocking investment both into the broader beachfront and especially in the Point Waterfront,” he said.

Watch: Views of the new Durban Point promenade

Sithole tells Moneyweb that the extension makes the beachfront promenade now over 8km long – from the Umgeni River mouth at Blue Lagoon to the Durban harbour entrance, adjacent to the multi-billion-rand Point Waterfront urban renewal development.

International recognition

“This makes it the longest uninterrupted beachfront promenade in Africa. Through this city investment and further private sector investment to come, we believe the promenade will become recognised internationally, together with the likes of Copacabana in Rio and Bondi Beach in Australia,” he adds.

Durban’s beachfront promenade and the Umhlanga Rocks promenade, north of the city, both received extreme makeovers to the tune of some R200 million ahead of the Fifa World Cup in 2010. This gave the beachfront a new lease of life, bringing new visitors to the area – including joggers, cyclists and families – particularly over weekends.

Since then the Durban beachfront has attracted major private sector investment, with JSE-listed hospitality giant Tsogo Sun alone injecting more than R1.8 billion into the area. This includes a R1.5 billion expansion of its popular Suncoast Casino complex and a R220 million revamp of its 734-room Elangeni & Maharani Hotel at North Beach.

Another noteworthy investment in the area was by Morocco-based Onomo Hotels, which is on a major expansion drive in SA and on the continent. It invested some R150 million in a new 160-room hotel, while other local beachfront hoteliers and property owners have also invested in revamps.

Sithole believes the ‘double volume’ extension of the promenade will spur further investment.

He says there is a bigger vision for the Point Waterfront development now, with ambitious new plans by the new co-owners of the land, UEM Sunrise Berhad – a major Malaysian-based property developer.

UEM Sunrise has kept a low profile in SA but the Point Waterfront mega-development features strongly on its international website. Moneyweb could not reach the company for comment.

Future developments

“Following the completion of the promenade extension by the city, the first phase of the new development plans for the Point Waterfront is anticipated to be launched next year,” says Sithole.

“This will include a hotel tower and residential tower, in addition to a new shopping mall next to uShaka. Various investors are interested, but UEM Sunrise will be driving the process that will also include local partners.”

Sithole revealed to Moneyweb that a plan for a giant Ferris wheel, being proposed by private developers for the city, is also being considered for location next to uShaka.

He says it will be along the lines of the famous London Eye and is being dubbed the ‘Durban Eye’.

“The Point Waterfront development will integrate with uShaka as well as plans by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) for a new cruise liner terminal in Durban. The terminal is being strategically located inside the harbour adjacent to the Point Waterfront,” he says.

Read: New Durban cruise terminal to boost tourism, jobs in SA

Global cruise company MSC Cruises is a joint-venture partner in the KwaZulu Cruise Terminal Consortium (KTC), which won a 25-year concession from TNPA last year to design, build and operate the R200 million Durban Cruise Terminal. MSC Cruises has significant operations in SA waters, with Durban being its biggest homeport.

‘Good move, but … ‘

Nicole Graham, the DA’s caucus leader in eThekwini, says that while the investment in extending the beachfront promenade and Durban’s Point area is a “good move”, the city needs to get “the basics right” in terms of cleanliness, safety and maintenance of the entire area and city centre.

“The Durban beachfront has the potential to be one of the most appealing coastal promenades in the world. Investments in infrastructure in general are welcome, especially in the city’s most important and well-loved tourism asset. However, this needs to be supported by other departments in the city to make it work,” she notes.

“We can’t just invest in beachfront infrastructure; we have to ensure that the area and surrounds are clean, safe and have amenities that work and are maintained. All city departments need to work together in this effort, otherwise such investments won’t realise its full potential.”



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Nice. Seems to be well planned taking into account rising sea levels.

I’m no fundi in architecture/construction but this is terrible positioning! Bad idea! The City should be doing something about the current state of buildings on the mile and their occupants before splurging R380m on such risky developments.

Seapoint Prom looks longer

It is with a far richer population behind it going right up to Dear Cyril’s R100 million new mansion in Fresnaye… but the water is freezing.

Great idea in principle ..but go there 5am on Saturday and Sunday and see for yourself the amount of broken alcohol bottles , beer cans etc. It is scary scene in the evening . Drunk people all over the place .
This an issue going on for years and the City Council is useless when it comes to anti littering .
You want tourists ? Enforce anti littering laws all over South Africa .( Like Singapore )

Every one is useless when it comes to anti littering. Only the person littering can stop it.

Imagine a sound caning for perpetrators of disorderly conduct and littering. Could be a paradise there!

Now to sort out the polluted sea.

I could not believe one could buy a flat a few blocks from the beach, Sea World and city center for R100 000. I now own a flat lifts out of action, non functioning body corp, water turned off ++++
Need some way of tidying up these non functioning buildings overlooking tourist paradise.

You didn’t think it was cheap for a reason?

For once a relevant comment.

Oh shame – you got upset when you got fingered for saying something of a similar level. Are you still upset about the other day? Move on.

It would be interesting to know who bought property in the Point before this building was announced. I would bet on Mike Sutcliffe being one. A few guys have plugged away in this area – it is world class; just getting there and leaving can be tricky. They have done well.

Also one once fabulous hotel is now about to become student accommodation. Does that all make sense???

Total waste of money.

Are these people not aware that the “paying” tourists have gone elsewhere?

The Beach Hotel on the “Golden Mile” is closing and will be turned into student accommodation. Why. THE “PAYING” TOURISTS HAVE GONE!

Why waste the money before you figured out where the “Paying” tourists have gone?

Maybe they did and they realised it was because the beachfront was sad. So now they fixed it.

I felt almost safe walking around there, it used to be worse.

If you can get investment, and prosecute bad behaviour, it will be an awesome place just like how Seapoint promenade went poorly and then improved massively.

If you buy property, it could go either way, but only in hindsight will you know…

What are you talking about? I bet the hordes of Vaalies who come to Durban in December dont count as tourists to you?

It is awesome but the city needs to focus on looking after the rest of the promenade. Fences, paving and showers are broken and left unprepared. There is litter and sand all over the place. Drinking, fires on the grass and broken glass make it a very unpleasant place most nights and early mornings before cleanup crews arrive. As they say, the beachfront is really all Durban has – there should be a huge commitment to making it spotless and well maintained but it is degenerating very quickly.

Now they need to control the water quality and prevent sewage spills.

3rd time I’ve seen this article appear on the interweb. Seems to be the biggest “infrastructure” project. Some Paving in Durbs.
Is this best RSA can do these days ?

Rather built a container harbour in Gansbaai

Sadly, in my opinion, this is the biggest waste of rate and taxpayers money – especially now that the Municipality is begging for a futher loan of R550million.
This “white elephant’ has destroyed a primary dune and the last bit of natural beachfront we had left.
Someone connected with this project got a big backhander!
But as I said, this is only my opinion!

Was there over the weekend and it is awesome. Hopefully people will look after it.

They should be shortening the beachfront and focusing maintenance and crime prevention on that shorter area. Quite clearly keeping it all clean and safe is far beyond Durbans’s capability.

With 99% of visitors to Durban beach not spending any money they need to be sensible or it will all be ruined in a year or two without vast and continual input of public money.

What Durban really needs is to set aside a reasonable portion of the beachfront (and beach) as fenced off, secure and chargeable for entrance. This will bring back higher paying tourists and the funds can be used to subsidise the facilities of the free beach. Unfortunately I believe this is against the current laws.

Last but not least….
If this venture was built with low cost imported cement from India, China or Nigeria…it won’t last long, and would be one of the nails in the coffin of the South African Cement industry! How can we find out if this was built with local or imported cement?

Geez. Some people. Now you are accusing the municipality of using imported cement? Without a single shred of evidence?

Some people will always look to put some gloom in every bit of sunshine where they can…

End of comments.



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