Curtain raised on retail colossus, Mall of Africa Big size. Big investment. Big shopper numbers and job opportunity expectations. Can this iconic mall deliver?
hias t been years in the making but the R5bn, 130 000m2 super-regional mall, Mall of Africa, located within Waterfall City in Midrand, is finally a reality. It’s an immense development – a total construction area of 550 000m2 – and the largest single-phase mall development in South Africa, equivalent to around 78 rugby fields. Yet construction took just 36 months to complete. And should its already mammoth size not be big enough to cater to market demand, the mall can be extended by a further 25 000m2.
The iconic mall is owned by JSE-listed capital growth fund Attacq Limited (80%) and Atterbury Property (20%). Costing a whopping sum of around R3.8bn to construct, the development is now valued at R4.9bn, says Attacq CEO Morné Wilken.
Accessibility to this super-regional mall was crucial if the expected number of shoppers was to be realised. For this purpose property developer Atterbury undertook major road upgrades around the development to make it easily accessible, including building a bridal veil bridge that creates a direct link between Midrand and Waterfall City.
The viability of another shopping mall may be questioned but the Mall of Africa benefits from being an in-fill development; everything else already having developed around it. And its location puts this colossus in an immediate catchment area of in excess of 100 000 households.
That household number is likely to increase. Apart from housing development in surrounding areas and within Waterfall City itself, at the official opening Gauteng Premier David Makhura said that 15 000 houses for low- and middle-income earners will also be built in Midrand.
The Mall of Africa, said the premier, is the main anchor of the Waterfall City CBD and is an important part of the movement to transform the landscape and economy of Gauteng, further pointing out that investment by private business into the province not only grows the province’s economy, but also addresses the fundamental issue of job creation. “Today 4 500 jobs have been created just with the opening of the Mall. The PwC head office tower will cater for another 3 500 people,” he said. By 2018 there will be up to 12 000 people working in this inner part of the CBD, and by the time the development of Waterfall City is complete, more than 60 000 people will be working here. The mall features two retail levels with a racetrack design around the central court to ensure effective movement. And to bring an aspect of uniqueness to the mall, Wilken says passages were made wider, shop front heights increased and skylights installed for natural light. Apart from local tenants like Woolworths, Checkers, Edgars, Truworths and Game, the Mall of Africa has attracted plenty of international brands opening their first stores in South Africa among them Armani Exchange, Helly Hansen, Asics, Zara Home, and Mango Man. They will join other favourite international brands like Cotton On, Hamleys, H&M, Forever 21 and Starbucks. The mall also boasts a Ster Kinekor cinema complex with Imax, restaurants, fast food stores, coffee shops and an outdoor park. Green aspects have also been incorporated. Half of the mall’s energy requirements will be generated by solar power, and rainwater will be harvested for use in the public toilets as well as for irrigation purposes. But should load-shedding rear its ugly head, the mall has 100% generator back-up power. Fifteen million people are expected to visit the Mall of Africa annually, says Wilken. Whether that’s achievable given the economic slowdown and the plethora of other malls remains to be seen. It was a momentous start though, almost 100 000 people making their way to the Mall of Africa on opening day on 28 April. RMB Holdings appear confident of success announcing on 3 May its intention to make a 25.01% equity investment in Atterbury, co-owner of the Mall of Africa.
Half of the mall’s energy requirements will be generated by solar power.
A general view shows the newly inaugurated Mall of Africa in Midrand on its opening day on 28 April.
David Makhura Premier of Gauteng
Morné Wilken CEO of Attacq