Rivertown Precint is close to The Riverside Hotel
Not to be left out of the innovative urban regeneration movement that swept both Johannesburg (Maboneng) and Cape Town (Woodstock), Durban too initiated an ‘urban intervention’.
The same property development company behind the Maboneng Precinct in Johannesburg, Propertuity, in partnership with the eThekwini municipality and a few other players, started by renovating Morrison Street in downtown Durban. The objective: to bring foot traffic back to these parts of Durban.
The three and a half blocks and 23 developments, which will make up the new precinct, is called the Rivertown Precinct after the river canal that runs parallel to the buildings, visible from the beer hall (this part of town was known as Motortown).
8 Morrison Street is a transformed industrial warehouse. It’s over 100 years old, its exterior now stylishly reworked into a graffiti-style black and white symbol motif. The project included local artists who literally made their ‘mark’ on the building. By making the building beautiful, people appreciate it more.
The building opened with a bang, by hosting The Morning Trade weekly artisanal food market (which then moved to 5 Station Drive, just off Umgeni Road).
The warehouse is co-working office and retail space functioning as urban workspace, designed to attract startups, entrepreneurs and creatives. A series of ‘retail pods’ are on the ground floor, attracting clothing boutiques, art galleries, and bespoke décor.
On the first floor are a series of office pods that are private, flexible and share boardrooms. Added to this is a cafe, roastery, restaurant and bar.
Just down the road from the warehouse is the Rivertown Beer Hall. Traditionally a social gathering place for black labourers, it now attracts a trendy crowd. The beer hall is not just a beer hall either, it doubles as a function venue.
Live entertainment is a regular feature on the beer hall’s stage, whilst at one end is a space that cross-functions for exhibitions. Conferences held at ICC, a stone’s throw away from Rivertown, tend to spill over into Rivertown, where in the evenings functions work well.
And the regeneration won’t stop there. Rivertown intends adding residential units, as the project redevelops two art deco buildings in similar style to the eat, live, work ethos of Maboneng.
This part of town is a mix of historic light industrial and storage buildings with a street network that is perfect for a vibrant regeneration. It helps that it lies close to West Street (Pixley Ka Seme Street), earmarked for a pedestrian dominated linear park, and a large public transport connection.