Hello Future! Florida Road is being transformed, restored and regenerated. Well, that’s the plan anyway. Ingrid Shevlin discovers what Urban Lime (and a few others) have in mind for this iconic area, destined to become Durban’s high street. Expect an explosionof restaurants.
Jonny and Katie Friedman are the powerhouses behind Urban Lime. On their website they describe the company as “an innovative commercial property regeneration company that transforms and regenerates urban landscapes that have fallen out of fashion into vibrant communities for people, business and enterprise to thrive.”
And that’s no boast. They own and are rejuvenating more properties in Florida Road than any other developer. An impressive number I discovered after Katie took myself, fellow journalist Frank Chemaly and two young food entrepreneurs looking for restaurant space, for a walk up and down Florida Road. The aim was to not only view their properties, but learn their plans for those still undergoing regeneration and renovation. In other words, loads of changes, but not of the skyscape. Urban Lime is, as they say, all about restoring. Not destroying iconic and historic buildings.
Of course you can’t own that many properties and be that powerful and escape criticism on a range of issues. Like accusations of high rents, or disapproval of their plans for the Florida Road of tomorrow, or suggestions they are favouring chains and franchises over the “little guys”.