Johannesburg and Cape Town have had their fair share of inner-city development, and now it’s Durban’s turn. Propertuity (the property developer behind the bustling Maboneng Precinct in Jozi) has turned its attention to the city famous for its sub-tropical heat to revamp an industrial zone now known as Rivertown. Vibrant artworks on its building facades add energy to the spaces that now house boutique stores and play backdrop to an exciting host of creative events.
Although more relaxed in atmosphere than Joburg and perhaps even Cape Town, Durban tends to err on the conservative side. However, a growing and dynamic group of creatives are experimenting and challenging the norm. Eight Morrison Street (8MS) was the first of Propertuity’s building upgrades. Originally a derelict warehouse used mainly for storage, it is now brimming with inspiration – with a mural painted by Skullboy marking the entrance, as well as lighting and additional artworks and sculptures curated by Angela Shaw. Thanks to a wide variety of styles, from edgy streetwear to high fashion by up-and-coming designers, 8MS is fast becoming a go-to for unconventional finds. There’s also a scattering of galleries like Artisan, best for hand-painted prints, fabrics and ceramics, and the decor shop Mi Africa.
Without a doubt, the biggest hit in Rivertown is The Morning Trade. The brainchild of Anna Savage, who also brought the I Heart Market to life, this weekly Sunday market offers a range of artisanal, fresh and local produce and serves as a vibey space to hang out. The market features Durban’s ‘cream of the crop’, as Anna puts it. Striking proteas, pulled-pork sandwiches from Carve, handmade ice cream by LegenDairy, Margaret Wasserfall’s baked goods and cured meats from Col’tempo Salumeria are just a few of the offerings that definitely aren’t available in your everyday mall. The Morning Trade captures the very essence of Durban while offering something entirely new.
Judging by the throngs descending on Rivertown – locals and foreigners alike – it looks like Durbs is finally finding its cool, and promises much more to come.