Tourism hub: PMB to look to Durban

2013-09-11 00:00

THE Freedom Square Tourism Hub in the Pietermaritzburg CBD is nearing completion, but with quality tenants difficult to come by, the Msunduzi Municipality is considering trying to attract businesses from Durban to relocate.

The council also agreed to offer massive discounts of up to 40% to new tenants.

Dr Ray Ngcobo, deputy manager of the Economic Development Unit, told the Executive Committee (Exco) that they had tested the waters and thought that the best way to get quality tenants to rent the premises was to offer them a 40% discount in 2014, 20% in 2015 and then start charging full rentals in 2016.

The rent for various categories has been determined as follows:

• Office: R80-100 per square metre

• Restaurant: R120 per square metre

• Shops: R100 per square metre

• Parking: R350 per bay

“We are offering this incentive because this is the first tenant advantage and we know that once the new tenants move in, they stand a chance of losing their existing customers,” said Ngcobo.

This was after a heated exchange with DA councillor Mergan Chetty, who said the council should ensure it tests the waters before offering discounts.

“This building is situated in a prime area, with the city hall, premier’s office and legislature next to them. Why are we not testing the waters before offering discounts?” he asked.

Ngcobo said they had done so and were unable to attract the strictly high quality tourism tenants the building was built to cater for.

“We are even looking to get tenants to relocate from Durban to Pietermaritzburg, but we are looking for high quality tenants that will also attract tourism for the city,” he said.

Ngcobo said they were getting lawyers and SMMEs interested in leasing space, but the focus was on getting quality tourism brands that could sustain themselves.

ANC councillor Thulani Xulu commended management for being proactive.

Exco members were also assured there were plans to upgrade the now “ugly-looking” Publicity House building to complement the tourism hub.

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