Bridge City is attracting increasing interest as a decentralized residential and business hub and is inching closer to realising the development vision of the joint venture partners behind it.

From the outset, the eThekwini Municipality and Tongaat Hulett Developments planned to establish Bridge City as a fully functional, mixed use town centre able to meet the region’s current and growing needs.

“The whole picture of what we envisioned for Bridge City is now coming together with the development of key sites within the town centre. Our plans for a functional mixed-use development that combines public sector sites and services and excellent public transport with private sector investment is now almost complete,” says Brian Ive, the development executive responsible for Bridge City.

From the outset, the plan was to create a new urban centre within a polycentric metro – increasing density, creating a mix of uses and linking adjacent areas to each other and the wider metropolitan region.

The town centre is taking shape quite rapidly mainly due to the fact that bulk infrastructure is already operational.

Bridge City was vacant land in 2008, then they built a shopping centre around the existing rail line and it is a vital cog in the eThekwini Municipality’s R22 billion GO Durban! integrated rapid public transport network.

A Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) route is currently under construction between Bridge City and Pinetown and due for completion in March 2017.

Development of further routes between Bridge City and the Durban CBD and Cornubia/ Umhlanga are already on the cards.

The rapid public transport network has been identified as one of the key pillars that is integral to the stimulation of economic growth in greater Durban and is already proving to be an important draw card for investors in Bridge City.

“We have seen strong interest in the potential for the town centre to attract commuters, consumers and residents in a secure and clean urban environment,” says Ive.

With only a third of the town centre site area – equating to around 91,000m2 – still available to developers, competition is expected to be tight.

Ive says the remaining sites awaiting development include a maximum of 300,000m2 of bulk, zoned for residential use.

Up to 118,000m2 is zoned for retail and commercial use.

He said Bridge City represented one of the most affordable fully serviced property development products on the market, while offering great accessibility and convenience in a managed precinct.

Both established and new developers have already invested in Bridge City with a KwaMashu based consortium recently buying the rights to develop a six-storey mixed use building which also includes a petrol filling station.

“This latest sale epitomises the vision for the town centre. Ideally, we would like to see retail space on the ground floor and then three to six storeys of residential, office or other urban uses above that. Bridge City is also attracting a mix of affordable and conventional residential which could be maximised on those sites that have approval to develop as many as nine storeys,” Ive said.

The eThekwini Municipality recently underscored its investment in the Bridge City vision when it acquired development rights to five town centre sites that were set aside for social housing.

According to Ive, social housing is an essential component of this vision, close to the 48,000m2 Bridge City shopping centre and the regional magistrate’s court which are already operational as well as the 500-bed regional state hospital that is under construction and scheduled to open in 2019.

In addition to the state hospital, construction on a 150-bed private hospital and nursing home will commence shortly. Enquiries for further residential, office and destination retail facilities are being processed.

“We have invested in this development together with the city because we believe it’s the right thing to do in the right place and at the right time, and we’re actively seeking developers and end users who share this vision and are able to deliver products that meet the goal of a truly integrative mixed use development that represents the vision of a new urban future for South Africa,” Ive said.