AFTER much anticipation and the excitement building towards the event, the Mall of Africa will officially open its doors to the public next week Thursday.
Punted as “the biggest mall in Africa” – well, it is the largest single-phase shopping centre development to date at 130 000 square metres of retail space – the mall will cement Johannesburg as the shopping mecca of the continent and set a new benchmark for shopping centres on the continent.
However, gazing at the crystal ball of Atterbury Property Group, the mall’s property developers, the mall is but the central beginning of a multi-million rand mixed-use complex in South Africa’s economic hub and gateway to Africa.
The Mall of Africa is at the he Waterfall Estate between Midrand and Sandton, one of the fastest growing nodes in South Africa.
According to the developers, the mall would serve as the hub of the 323 hectare Waterfall development project estimated to cost R71 billion to complete, with 11 more years of development still to go.
The Waterfall development is expected to expand over the next 10 to 15 years to become around the same size as Sandton.
Developers want the Mall of Africa to act as a hub around which other amenities would be clustered and set a new benchmark in mixed-use shopping and entertainment, forming an anchor around which a range of mixed-use developments including retail, offices, hotel, conference and recreational amenities and residential areas would grow.
The whole precinct masterplan’s urban design seeks to promote an integrated live-work-play environment.
Giant corporations including Cell C, Altech Group, Cipla and Group Five have their headquarters in the precinct.
The mall is co-owned by two South African property companies. Real estate capital growth fund, Attacq Limited, holds the commercial development rights to Waterfall and owns 80 percent of the Mall of Africa.
Atterbury Property Group owns the remaining 20 percent of Mall of Africa and is responsible for the mall’s development project, on behalf of Attacq.
The property group says it wants the development to enhanced the diversity of the retail sector in South Africa, change Gauteng’s skyline and also stimulate the economy.
Louis van der Watt, chief executive of Atterbury, in a statement on Thursday said the Mall of Africa had been designed and developed by Africans and stood proud with leading international retail centres globally.
“We have created a new shopping experience unlike anywhere else, in which every detail of the mall caters towards understanding and delighting customers,” Van der Watt said.
“We have worked hard to ensure an exceptional shopping experience for customers that will attract discerning shoppers from our local community at Waterfall, across South Africa and all corners of the African continent.”
Atterbury began the construction of the R5-billion Mall of Africa in October 2012, nearly three-and-a-half years ago.
A major benefit of Mall of Africa would be its central location in Gauteng and easy access from all areas as it is situated halfway between Johannesburg and Pretoria.
It would be easily accessible from the Allandale Road exit of the N1 Highway.
Atterbury undertook major roads upgrades, spending around R290 million on upgrading the road network system around the development to make it easy for shoppers to arrive at the 26 entrances of the Mall of Africa.
Opening on 28 April 2016, Mall of Africa will form the iconic hub of the innovative Waterfall precinct, perfectly situated between Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Boasting over 300 shops and 7,000 parking bays, the mall would have anchor tenants such as Checkers, Edgars, Game, Woolworths and Ster Kinekor, as well as leading South African brands from The Foschini Group, Mr Price, and Truworths.
H&M, Zara, Hamleys, Cotton On and Forever 21 are among the international brands that would be opening flagship stores at the mall. Clicks Pharmacy would open its 500th shop at the mall.
Atterbury says over 90 percent of available retail space has been let to date.
Aside from shopping, the Mall of Africa promises to offer a choice of world-class entertainment and restaurants, with nine state-of-the-art cinemas, including IMAX and Cine Prestige.
When Makro Carnival opened in Brakpan earlier this week, queues were reminiscent to those of 1994 SA’s first democratic vote due to the store’s massive opening sale, Mall of Africa will likely follow suit – ANA