Nedbank announced that it has committed to investing R1bn into a new mixed-use office and retail development in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal, which is currently under construction. The iconic Park Square development, which is located in the fast-growing Umhlanga Parkside node adjacent to CJ Saunders Park and opposite the Gateway Theatre of Shopping Centre, will have a 4-Star Green Star Design and As-Built rating and will serve as one of Nedbank Group’s flagship campuses in KwaZulu-Natal.
According to Anand Joseph, Divisional Executive: Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking Property Finance in KwaZulu-Natal, the bank’s R1bn investment in the Park Square development project is further demonstration of its confidence in KwaZulu-Natal as a vital commercial and retail hub for South Africa. “In addition to creating temporary and permanent employment opportunities for many people from surrounding communities,” explains Joseph, “Park Square reinforces the seriousness with which Nedbank takes its responsibility to playing a vital part in the ongoing growth and development of South Africa’s economy.”
Once completed, Park Square will offer 40 000m2 of Gross Lettable Area (GLA) of which 4 000m2 will be for retail usage, while the remaining 36 000m2 will be commercial space, 18 000m2 of which will be A-grade offices. Around 50% of the office component will be occupied by Nedbank itself which, according to Joseph, is evidence of the bank’s confidence in the economic viability of the development and its willingness to ‘put its money where its mouth is’ when it comes to taking a position on the positive future economic prospects for KwaZulu-Natal.
“We believe that there is immense long-term value to be unlocked for businesses that invest in KwaZulu-Natal, and we are committed to leading by example in this regard,” he says, “what’s more, the recent establishment of a presence in the Umhlanga area by many large businesses has steadily increased its desirability as a commercial base, so Park Square gives Nedbank the strategic opportunity to own its space in this fast-growing business node.”
The office component of Park Square spans five blocks along the perimeter of the development site, while the retail space is located at ground level surrounding a public piazza. Two-levels of basement parking and on-grade parking complete the appealing and highly convenient Park Square picture.
Adding to the aesthetic appeal is a 16m-wide public arcade at pedestrian level, which links the piazza to the adjacent CJ Saunders Park and gives direct access to the public road on the north eastern side of the development. The design is a deliberate attempt to elevate the dynamism of the buildings and integrate it with its natural surroundings. Ground floor restaurants and retail spaces present dramatic double volume glass shopfronts to add a dramatic effect and create a more spacious feel at pedestrian level, limiting the building design from becoming dated
According to Joseph, another significant component of the public and commercial appeal of Park Square will be its convenient location between Twilight Drive, Centenary Boulevard and Park Avenue, adjacent to Gateway. With King Shaka International Airport 18km to the north and central Durban a similar distance to the south, Park Square offers ease of access to both destinations via the expanding N2 and M4 northern freeway.
“The planned expansion of the metro’s Bus Rapid Transport[BRT] system to Umhlanga will add further to this convenience aspect,” Joseph explains, “as the Umhlanga station will be located very close to the development.” He emphasises that this easy access to public transport offers the dual benefit of access for those employed at Park Square as well as sustainable, robust foot traffic for retail tenants as the public arcade is almost certain to become a primary thoroughfare linking the BRT stop with surrounding offices and the Gateway Centre.
Importantly, Park Square offers businesses and retailers a choice of leasing their desired space, or buying it via a sectional title agreement. Joseph explains that this is one of the key ways in which Nedbank is working to catalyse economic growth in the area. “This is a sought after office and retail location, but the opportunity to own space here has largely only been available to very large institutions,” he points out, “however, Nedbank is working to change this by making it possible for any business to put down secure roots in a premium business node, by owning their Park Square space.”
Development of the prestigious Park Square has already started with occupation scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2018. Nedbank estimates that a labour force of approximately 600 employees will be employed during the construction of the buildings, while permanent employment opportunities will result from post-construction management and maintenance of the facilities.