(Published in SUNDAY TIMES, 29/10/15)

Rod Stainton is a blur of frenzied activity. He’s a bright fellow with a million things on his mind, primarily a June deadline galloping towards him. That’s when he has to hand over the first site in Keystone Park to Mr Price for construction of its huge new national distribution centre.

Stainton is spending millions to cut, fill and flatten four million cubic metres of earth using a fleet of monster machines which burn R100 000 of diesel every day.

Mr Price’s R500-million building will initially be 57 000m². It will be fitted with materials-handling gear worth another R500-million. And it will be the catalyst for a much bigger development within Keystone Park, which Stainton estimates will eventually cost about R5.5-billion.

In mid-2012 he and his partners bought 152 hectares along the N3 at the Hammarsdale off-ramp. Their idea was to develop a logistics park, and two years later they got city rezoning approval. In December, Mr Price signed up at Keystone, which will have about a million square metres of platform area for about 23 businesses, eventually housing about 650 000m² of building.

Stainton has done no marketing, but since news got out about Mr Price he has had inquiries that could fill “a substantial portion” of the park.

“The city, the province and national government have been fantastic in helping get this done. A logistics park on the N3 within eThekwini falls within the national, provincial and city policy frameworks. A high-end logistics facility situated on the country’s economic artery leverages the existing infrastructure and helps the spatial development of the city.

“In five years, when the park is fully let, there should be over 5 000 people employed here and the city’s annual rates base should have increased by more than R100-million.”

The N3 Hammarsdale interchange will be upgraded in the process.

A Mr Price spokesman told SPICE the group was pleased to invest R1-billion in a “landmark project” that would boost the city economy.

Logistics expert Mark Long said Mr Price’s move would attract other businesses like “bees to a honeypot”, adding: “It will revive the economy of the area. Access to arterial roads is critical in this day and age, and the access to this site is prime.

“In a modern economy, logistics is the blood flow that feeds everything. Everything in your home or office had one thing in common: all have been through a supply chain and have been freighted by sea, air, rail or road.”

The Growth Coalition, a non-profit collaboration between business and government in KZN, helped facilitate the Keystone development.

Coalition spokesman Andreij Kieoiela said: “The significance of the site near the most impoverished part of the greater Durban region, and the professionalism of the developers in producing a flagship project, motivated us to bring together all the stakeholders to enable the smooth implementation of this project.”