Upbeat over downtown

2014-08-12 00:00

AN urban regeneration project is taking shape in central Durban, with 15 000 visitors streaming through the doors in the opening week.

Located between the ICC and beachfront, the project has transformed a vacant warehouse into a hive of activity, hosting a weekly market called The Morning Trade and an exhibition space.

The brainchild of local entrepreneur Marco Santoniccolo, #Durbanism is a movement encouraging people to post why they love the city on social media platforms like Twitter.

Santoniccolo, who also owns the Spiga D’Oro restaurant, bought the building on Morrison Street six weeks ago with the intention to “bring life” back to Durban.

“This is the area we like to get involved in, where it is risky,” said Santoniccolo.

He said the building was an instrument to make the area a hub of activity.

“You need one building to make it all start and then you introduce this to the entire area.

“We did this in Johannesburg in one of the most dangerous areas of the city called Maboneng where there is now almost a square kilometre of mixed use property.”

Santoniccolo said his next move was to make Rivertown a residential area.

“We have engaged with all building owners in the area but there are some mixed feelings because some people don’t understand what we are doing here.

“We are using the space for everything Durban and we are a full Durban team. This space is for people from the city, especially young entrepreneurs, to use.”

Santoniccolo said that the heartbeat of the city was the harbour, which had been largely forgotten.

“We are going to be bringing in shipping containers which will be rented out to entrepreneurs. This will also serve to remind us that we are a harbour city,” he said.

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