On heritage day we celebrate more than just the diversity and traditions of our multi-cultural nation, we take the opportunity to consider the heritage of our workplace, as well as the buildings in which we spend so much of our time. JT Ross Property Group values heritage, after all, the company was established way back in 1902. 

JT Ross Property Group has been through some dramatic historical events, and in itself has navigated significant economic changes, rapid advances in technology and four generations of family leaders. From a carpentry trade, the business started out as a building contractor 116 years ago, which quickly evolved into a reputed construction company. Many of the buildings dotted around Windermere Road, Umgeni Road and further afield were built by the company over these early years. 

Today JT Ross is an international development and property company, with a formidable project portfolio traversing commercial, industrial, retail and residential. Have a look at our interactive time-line showing some of the significant projects undertaken and historical happenings over the decades and read further as we touch on two heritage sites which were redeveloped over the last five years. Two of the biggest brownfield developments recently undertaken in KwaZulu Natal.

Lion Match Office Park 

Lion Match Office Park is a familiar Durban landmark, an iconic destination which embodies the past and present. In 1902, the original Lion Match building was a warehouse producing matches which we still see being manufactured and sold today. While the Lion Match Company moved away from the property to purchase their own property, Lion Match Office Park was redeveloped from a mixed use environment into a popular office destination.

The property is an iconic part of Durban’s heritage, listed with AMAFA and recognisable by its water tower, red brick chimney and golden lions facing Umgeni Rd and Innes Rd. The park has become a sought after address amongst corporates and creatives in the region and is home to several other well established Durban companies that have celebrated their centenary; Jonssons Workwear, Paton Taylor, Dunlop (Sumitomo Rubber South Africa) and the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

When Lion Match Office Park was redeveloped in 2013, it retained it’s sense of history while adapting to a new era. The three year project uplifted the property significantly as well as it’s surroundings resulting in three awards from the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) in 2016 for innovative excellence in property development. One of these awards was the heritage award.

Sydney Road

JT Ross redeveloped another historical landmark which was completed in 2017, 265 Sydney Road, originally known as the Dunlop building. The site is historically significant as one of the first large manufacturing industries in Durban and for the part it played in the motor industry of South Africa. The remains of the Abattoir boundary wall is a reminder of the historical use of the land in the early 1900’s. 

Prior to redevelopment, JT Ross undertook a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) in 2015 which outlined portions of the property with historic significance and the parameters within which the redevelopment should take shape. 

The HIA recognised the property as being of iconic historical importance including the 1947 multi-storey office block, a prominent landmark on Sydney Road. The multi-storey office block, tyre store, admin block and most of the warehousing had to be restored and retained. These recommendations were duly acted upon and the project was undertaken in line with Amafa and the City of Durban’s requirements. 

Today the 80 000 square meter site operates as a fully functional logistics park, perfectly located close to the harbour and has assisted in transforming the face of Sydney Road. Business has been revitalised and the upgrade has had a positive impact on the surroundings. 

Laying the path for our future heritage

Aside from the bricks and mortar, a core focus of the company today involves working with communities and educating and up-skilling our youth and work force. With new developments underway, we’re able to provide work opportunities and teach much needed skills for building, developing and managing properties. An ongoing bursary programme created by the company several years ago, continues to support students with an interest in property studies and to provide employment opportunities to learners. Along with consistent improvements to schools and learning facilities in rural areas, we hope to build a solid foundation so that one day our children will have a heritage to be proud of too. 

It stands to reason that over heritage month, we reflect and acknowledge our individual heritage, our company heritage and that of the homes, offices, factories and schools which form part of of our ‘every-day’. A part of our future heritage.