By Anne Schauffer
Zenprop Property Holdings’ Mall of the South is not only exceeding retail-trading expectations from tenants and shoppers alike, but acting as a catalyst for residential and commercial development in southern Johannesburg.
It was in 2009 that Zenprop Property Holdings identified numerous sites in the south of Johannesburg as potential locations for a retail scheme development, one of them being the intersection of Swartkoppies Road and Klipriver Drive in Aspen Hills. Research confirmed the huge retail appetite in this rapidly expanding area, and of all sites considered, this one ticked all the boxes for accessibility, flexibility and expansion opportunities needed to serve this burgeoning market will into the future. Strategically, the mall was not simply considered in isolation as a response to retail demand, but as a catalyst for future residential and commercial development in the area.
“Visibility was critical, and infrastructure development and expansion were also important considerations,” said Zenprop’s Waldo Marcus about the guiding factors behind the mall’s design. “Market potential, site location, and the need for an up-market, well-appointed mall were the main drivers.”
Zenprop chose the strong name Mall of the South for the R1,8 billion investment as a reflection of the area and the community in which it operates. The date set for the opening of the mall was 24 September 2015, and notwithstanding the tight deadline, a strike in the steel industry, and the complexities of accommodating about 175 tenants’ individual requirements, the doors opened right on time with 65 000 m2 of retail space and more than 4 200 parking bays. Both of the latter elements were designed and built with the capacity to expand organically (possible expansion to 90 000 m2).
Aveng Grinaker-LTE was the main construction contractor, and Aurecon South Africa (Pty) Ltd were the civil engineers responsible for bulk earthworks and bulk services over a total site area of approximately 17 hectares (170 000m2).
Zenprop’s initial brief to the architects was clear: the company wanted a striking, contemporary world-class design, aspirational for the target market, incorporating plenty of natural light with excellent sight lines – vertically and horizontally – and highly efficient parking.
Imraan Ho-Yee, partner at Vivid Architects (principal designers), believes the Mall of the South stands shoulder to shoulder with the finest retail centres in the world: “The design is contemporary, not themed, and executed with a timeless aesthetic so it’ll stand the test of time and not require major refurbishment for decades,” he says. “The end project is iconic and a step forward for retail design in South Africa.
He described the backdrop to the mall’s journey: “It’s the very nature of most large commercial developments that change happens as part of that process.” He further adds, “We redesigned the scheme numerous times from the initial concept stage and, indeed, throughout the process, from repositioning the proposed development on a very tight site, to going from a single-level retail centre of 30 000 m2 to a double-level one of 65 000 m2. These changes were driven purely by market demand – a potentially larger scheme was possible based on the interest indicated by potential tenants.”
Zenprop also took the decision to increase budget for the main façade – a dynamically shaped and formed triple-volume façade of glass and aluminium that, says Ho-Yee, “served as a unique selling point of the retail development. It led to a better design solution for the final product.”
Zenprop has been widely acknowledged as a leading shopping centre developer, and Project Manager and Principal Agent Bill McClatchy believes that here the company has achieved that vital shopper feel-good factor. McClatchy has more than 60 shopping centres under his belt, and says, “The acid test is shoppers feeling comfortable getting to the mall, parking, and moving about in the space – and with the Mall of the South’s spacious, light-filled space and flow, it’s been achieved.”
The success of a retail centre is also dependant on consumer shopping habits, so aside from the easy flow and supremely simple functionality of the mall, the design is elegant and uncluttered, with wide walkways and detailed finishes. As prescribed by Zenprop, the architects achieved excellent view lines and natural light in their design.
Zenprop Property Holdings’ Mall of the South is a world-class shopping centre, delivered within time, quality and cost parameters. Equally important, the mall’s tenants are reporting ongoing successful trading above expectations.
Source: South African Property review, May 2016