Clairwood re-development redefining Durban’s logistics capabilities

Clairwood re-development redefining Durban’s logistics capabilities

When the historic Clairwood racecourse just south of Durban began its transformation into a logistics hub in 2014 few would have imagined that seven years later the site would become a world class logistics park.

That the much-loved old racecourse would continue to play an important role “positioning Africa’s largest port, and the city of Durban, as a leading national – and indeed global – innovation hub, is a fitting tribute to this important site,” said Grant Lewington, National Leasing Manager at Fortress Logistics. Today, Clairwood continues to race ahead, “leading a new age of logistics innovation reaching across the country - and deep into the continent,” he added.

While some may argue that seven years is a long time in the making, today, Fortress’s R4.5 billion Clairwood Logistics Park is a world-class site, “showcasing cutting-edge innovation in storage, transhipment and distribution - redefining how businesses source, supply and sell,” says Lewington.

The re-zoning, servicing and environmental provisioning of the site which began in 2014 - way before the first buildings - saw a R150 million upgrade of road and service infrastructure. Since Clairwood is located in an old industrial suburb close to the port, new road infrastructure was required. New services connections such as power, water and sewage were also introduced. Stormwater management systems were also completely overhauled. The rezoning of the site also required environmental provisions necessitating the retention of wetland elements protecting existing fauna and flora.

While the whole park boasts 360 000 sqm of state-of-the-art warehousing, Fortress’s development of individual pockets has been driven almost entirely by client need as “tenants respond to the rapidly evolving demands of a logistics sector double-impacted by the Covid-19 epidemic and ecommerce,” explains Lewington.

In 2018, pocket 1, for example, saw 25 000 sqm of space leased and customised for SAMMAR Investments, a storage and distribution service dealing largely with SASOL products. Pockets 4A and 4C were being developed as a 48 000 sqm speculative facility when an approach from African Sugar logistics saw the rapid customisation of 34 000 sqm of this space in January 2021. The remainder of Pockets 4B and 4C, totalling 14 000 sqm, was recently leased to Super Group.

Fortress has also commenced the construction of smaller units on spec in response to market demand. Four mini warehouses of approximately 3 500 sqm each are due for completion in September 2021,” he adds.

Clairwood’s proximity to the port of Durban has uniquely impacted its evolution and innovation from a logistics perspective, especially its ability to handle containerised cargo. The development of a 56 000 sqm container terminal within Clairwood for Kings Rest to be completed in September 2021 will extend the ability of King Rest’s existing container facility within the port of Durban. Fortress’s advanced negotiations with Transnet to incorporate and develop an adjacent rail siding into the Clairwood complex will add an important rail capability to the hub. Having an on-site containerisation facility within Clairwood offering, potentially, dual road and rail capacity will provide “tenants a competitive edge when it comes to transhipment speed, price and reach anywhere in the country – or Southern Africa,” explains Lewington.

Standard innovations that Fortress builds into most of its pockets include everything from higher eaves enabling more storage per square meter to high tolerance jointless floors. Independently pressured water supply and up to date fire suppression systems are also in demand. In addition, all roofing is built to accommodate solar panels for independent electricity supply.

It is the co-location of so many capabilities, modalities, services and options into a single location that makes state-of-the art logistics hubs like Clairwood so attractive to tenants.
Fortress’s philosophy to create privately owned logistics parks is bearing fruit as a wide variety of tenants are attracted to environments that are not only world class but also provide “peace of mind that park infrastructure is secure, efficient and well maintained – purpose-built to provide a critical logistics edge in the new economy,” says Lewington..

Clairwood, today, represents the kind of growth that can be created by responding innovatively to client disruption, “understanding and supporting client businesses as they pivot to meet the challenges of ecommerce in a digital age demanding greater efficiency and flexibility in storage, transhipment, distribution and retail,” observes Lewington..

Fortresses’ entire vision and strategy to build a two-thirds logistics – and one third defensive rural retail – portfolio is an exact response to the transformation of logistics and retail in an age of ecommerce. Clairwood represents this evolution in motion, leading the future of regional logistics and client growth.