Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  23 Aug 2010

PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT: Sandton City Extension Forges Ahead


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Commuters, visitors and residents in the Sandton area are already bearing witness to the new Sandton City Shopping Centre extension, which is beginning to change the city skyline with its impressive progress.

The super-regional shopping centre’s iconic expansion and refurbishment project – which involves interior refurbishments and the total of 30 000sqm of new retail space - is set to further fortify the centre’s standing as one of Africa’s leading retail icons.

“The R1.77 billion first phase of the Sandton City redevelopment, undertaken by Liberty Properties on behalf of the properties owners Liberty Group 75% and Pareto Ltd (25%), serves to expand and improve the centre to enhance its leading position in the retail sector and to meet the ever-growing needs of its market,” notes Julie Hillary, General Manager Sandton Region, for Liberty Properties.

“As the face of the Sandton CBD changes with the addition of developments such as the Gautrain, so should that of its leading retail development. With a fresh new contemporary design and an unmatched tenant mix to follow, Sandton City looks to maintain its stature as Africa’s world-class, unrivalled shopping and rendezvous destination.”

This is the first phase of a broader vision for the repositioning of the centre. Liberty Properties’ master vision is to ensure the Sandton City complex evolves in response to global design trends, its surroundings, its consumers and its retailers.

Sandton City’s entire retail space, including the extension, will total 143 690sqm on completion of this phase, set to open in late 2011. This will take the complex, which includes the hotel and office component, to a massive 215,000sqm.

Cited as one of the original catalyst of the Sandton CBD, Sandton City and Africa’s financial hub have grown in unison. This highlights how far the centre has come over the years, from the centre’s inception in September 1973, when it boasted just 50,000sqm across four levels, 120 stores and 2,500 parking bays.

Scheduled to open in November 2011, the external expansion is moving along swiftly. There are six tower cranes and over 1,000 personnel on the construction site daily. Over 5,100sqm of brickwork has taken place to-date and 10 tons of structural steelwork has been completed. In total, 255,500 man hours were completed in the month of July.

There are also extensive leasing deals being confirmed and secured with leading national and international brands. The new extension will provide space for national flagship stores and the remaining spaces are reserved for exciting international fashion stores.

“Liberty Properties are excited to announce that the Spanish fashion brand Zara have signed up to take a 2,100sqm store in the new extension. This store will bring their full range of ladies, mens and children’s range to South Africa.” notes Maurice Mdlolo, Chief Operating Officer of Liberty Properties. “Other confirmed retailers include a 1,100sqm Trenery and Country Road, a new 1,000sqm Incredible Connection and new flagship stores for Foschini, Truworths and Mr. Price.”

Other exciting and innovative leasing deals are currently being secured, promising to further fortify the vibrant tenant mix of the centre.

“Once complete, the expansion and refurbishment of Sandton City Shopping Centre will bring shoppers greater retail diversity in an environment that exudes modern charm and local design elements.” notes Sharon Swain, Sandton City Centre Manager. “The extension will bring with it around 70 new stores to Sandton City featuring the crème de la crème of the retail world, which is set to tantalise and excite even Africa’s most brand and fashion conscious shoppers.”

“The centre will also boast other value-add customer services, which will include refined customer services desks, secure gift voucher kiosks, mother and child parking, customer friendly signage, and a host of other amenities”, notes Swain.

Drawing inspiration from the extension, the internal refurbishments, which are currently underway, reflect the sophisticated and stylish shopping experience that has become synonymous with the centre. This extends to the brightening of the parking areas and the addition of over 1 000 parking bays – which is already in progress.

“The replacement of tiles, ceilings, bulkheads, columns and lighting has created a new ambiance in the centre, with a modern feeling emphasized by natural light, space and ‘green’ elements.” notes Swain. “Currently the Woolworths Court is undergoing its facelift, which is set for completion before the festive season. The Fountain Court and Mugg and Bean Court will begin with their refurbishments in early 2011.”

The recent refurbishment of Southern Sun’s Sandton Sun hotel lobby has also enhanced the location. The hotel refurbishment saw the inclusion of improved dining areas and a rooftop restaurant with spectacular views of the city.

Although visually impressive, the internal refurbishment serves more than just an aesthetic function.

“The internal refurbishment also includes a reconfiguration of certain elements, aimed at improving customer flow and movement by connecting the entire mall, which means completing the loop between Woolworths at one end and Edgars at the other, on both shopping levels in the centre.” says Hillary.

“Connections between upper and lower levels will be more streamlined, access and vehicle flow will be improved and the complex will be further integrated, through easier access, with the Sandton Convention Centre, Nelson Mandela Square and the broader Sandton precinct.”

A strong focus on security has also been identified as a goal of the refurbishment, with an all round improvement in security throughout the complex being achieved with the installation of state of the art surveillance equipment.

Various processes and construction methods have been put in place – including work being done at night – to ensure that the current changes have had a minimal effect on shopper convenience. With safety being taken into account, the Sandton Joint Venture, consisting of Grinekar LTA and WBHO, were recently awarded the regional safety award from the Master Builders Association for work completed to date on the Sandton City redevelopment.

“Sandton City has long been the retail gem in South Africa, appealing to a diversity of markets and delivering a premium retail and entertainment experience to each of them.”, states Mdlolo. “The perfect blend of international and local trends is achieved through the tenant mix, and architecture and design of the centre, which will continue to pioneer the retail industry.”

Mdlolo also notes the focus of Liberty Properties to develop their 3rd party business through managing developments and property management for 3rd parties, other than the Liberty Group. These developments currently include Zambia and Swaziland, with further 3rd party work up Africa being the long-term strategy for the business. This will be achieved through the incorporation of their experience in property development and their knowledge and expertise in green building leasing and property management.

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