Bid to improve Florida Road

2013-09-03 00:00

BUSINESSES in Morningside’s bustling Florida Road are to absorb an extra monthly levy as they take over greater control of the famed Durban party street.

They have agreed, with the consent of the eThekwini Metro, to form what is called a Special Rating Area (SRA) in an attempt keep the area an attractive inner city destination and protect their business investments.

Coming into effect in October, business property owners will absorb an extra R2 million annual fee which will be used predominately for crime prevention (R920 000) and cleaning and greening (R222 000). The remaining costs will be in administration, project and operational management and public relations.

Florida Road business owner Mike Holland is part of a committee spearheading the project on behalf of the street stretching from Mitchell Park to the Lilian Ngoyi (Argyle) Road intersection. He said the primary reason why they wanted to be an SRA is to improve the “quality of life” in the area.

“It is not only about security, but about the quality of living, such as a clean area, greening and better partnerships with the council and the police. For instance, we will be able to make sure all the car guards are accredited and without criminal records. We realise we cannot wait for council to do certain tasks.

“However, forming the UIP also means we become a strong pressure group and are able to lobby council a lot more effectively,” said Holland.

The SRA, also known as Urban Improvement Precinct (UIP), will be managed by a non-profit organisation as is required by council.

According to the municipality, prior to setting up an SRA, applicants must make sure the area contains a minimum of 200 properties or a minimum combined property value of R100 million. At least 66% of all the owners must also agree to it.

The council will add the extra tariff to each property owner’s monthly tariffs, and will then transfer this money to the NPO.

“What makes this process beneficial is that the extra levy becomes mandatory and individuals cannot simply withdraw or in some cases freeload and benefit from the extra services,” said Holland.

The Florida Road SRA will come into effect nearly 12 months after they submitted a proposal to council.

Successful SRAs are already operational in several sections of Umhlanga, most notably along the beach promenade.

Operated by the non-profit Umhlanga UIP, property owners established the UIP to retain existing investment, stimulate new investment, create economic opportunity and improve safety.

Umhlanga UIP project leader Brian Wright said while the UIP concept is not designed for residential areas, it is about “unlocking economic value”.

“It is about getting people into areas, not excluding them. It is also about opening up public spaces. This is not only about security but about the quality of life,” said Wright.

Bob Humphries, who runs a restaurant on Essenwood Road, said through the Community Policing Forum they are investigating the possibility of forming a similar non-profit operation in the Musgrave area.

“The Umhlanga model has been very successful. We are still at the early stages but if we get the buy-in from property owners it could transform our area,” said Humphries.

The Special Rating Area regulation is governed by the Municipal Property Rates Act of 2004.

• jonathan.erasmus@witness.co.za

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