Blue Route shop­ping com­plex to get ma­jor facelift

Tired Blue Route Cen­tre to un­dergo R1 bil­lion up­date and over­haul to in­tro­duce up­mar­ket

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - BIANCA CAPAZORIO

THE Blue Route Cen­tre in the south­ern sub­urbs is set for a mas­sive re­de­vel­op­ment that will see it re­built from scratch.

The re­sult is in­tended to be sleek and mod­ern, with two floors of stores and a light, wide-open, spa­cious feel.

Week­end Ar­gus has re­li­ably learnt that the cost of the re­de­vel­op­ment is in the re­gion of R1 bil­lion.

Louis Karol Ar­chi­tects, who de­signed it, also de­signed the Vic­to­ria Wharf mall at the V&A Water­front.

The own­ers of the Blue Route, Foun­tain­head Prop­er­ties, would not release de­tails, say­ing the project was still sub­ject to ap­proval from the com­pany’s board be­fore any work could go ahead.

A pre­sen­ta­tion has how­ever been done for the cen­tre’s ten­ants at which the po­ten­tial changes were out­lined.

Ac­cord­ing to an in­for­ma­tion pack given to them at that pre­sen­ta­tion, work on the project could start as soon as next month, with the main con­trac­tor mov­ing on to site in mid-April.

Foun­tain­head’s re­tail prop­erty man­ager, Trevor Matthews, said de­tails would be made avail­able to the me­dia later in the month, but that the ten­der process for con­trac­tors was con­tin­u­ing.

The com­ple­tion date for the en­tire project is Novem­ber 2012.

The 48 000m 2 mall, which was built in the 1970s on the site of an ear­lier shop­ping cen­tre, is con­sid­ered drab and old fash­ioned.

The new de­sign is de­scribed in the in­for ma­tion pack as “cool, ur­bane, mod­ern and so­phis­ti­cated – re­flect­ing the per­son­al­ity of the south­ern sub­urbs”.

The new mall will have a food court and restau­rants which “en­joy panoramic moun­tain views from large ter­races and gen­er­ous win­dows”, two floors con­nected by lots of stair­cases and es­ca­la­tors, wide walk­ways and “co­pi­ous sculp­tural sky­lights” to max­imise nat­u­ral light.

An­chor ten­ants will in­clude Ster Kinekor, which will up­grade their cur­rent six cin­e­mas to a new eight-the­atre com­plex, a mas­sive 5 000m 2 Wool­worths, a 4 000m2 Edgars and a Check­ers Hy­per­mar­ket.

Ac­cord­ing to re­search done on the area sur­round­ing the mall by Dou­glas Parker As­so­ci­ates prior to the de­vel­op­ment, “the re­de­vel­op­ment and re-po­si­tion­ing of the Blue Route Mall could at­tract a more af­flu­ent shop­per (who) will spend more of­ten and spend more t han his/ her cur­rent spend at the mall, while meet­ing the chang­ing needs of the al­ready loyal cus­tomer”.

It also said the re­de­vel­op­ment would re­sult in in­creased foot traf­fic and turnover for the mall and its ten­ants.

Ten­ants will how­ever have to con­trib­ute “by way of an im­proved of­fer­ing that is com­pa­ra­ble to that avail­able in com­pet­i­tive malls”.

Some ten­ants will also have to close shop dur­ing the re­de­vel­op­ment, which will be done in four phases.

It is un­der­stood that Foun­tain­head will try to work with th­ese ten­ants to find them al­ter na­tive premises from which to trade un­til the mall is com­plete.

Park­ing at the cen­tre will in­crease from the cur­rent 2 114 bays to 3 000.

Some of th­ese will be in front of the mall’s main en­trance and oth­ers will be un­der­ground, where they are likely to be sub­ject to a park­ing fee.

The re­de­vel­op­ment has been on the cards for a num­ber of years, with a 2008 JSE pre­sen­ta­tion by Foun­tain­head manag­ing di­rec­tor An­ton Rauben­heimer in­di­cat­ing that at the time, R500 mil­lion was be­ing bud­geted for fu­ture projects in­volv­ing the mall.

Ac­cord­ing to the com­pany’s 2009 fi­nan­cial re­ports, the mall made up 7.8 per­cent of their prop­erty port­fo­lio, down a per­cent­age point from the pre­vi­ous year. Its value slipped from nearly R596m in 2008 to R592m in 2009.

The area’s ward coun­cil­lor, De­nis Joseph, said that while he didn’t have all the de­tails of the project, he had met the cen­tre’s man­agers to dis­cuss the changes.

He un­der­stood that the ob­jec­tive was to make the cen­tre more cus­tomer-friendly and that there would be a “green” or eco­log­i­cal el­e­ment to the de­sign.

“Any de­vel­op­ment that takes place here is good for our econ­omy,” he said.

IN­SIDE STORY: The pro­posed in­te­rior of the new Blue Route Mall.

PIC­TURE: CINDY WAXA

TO­DAY AND TO­MOR­ROW: The Blue Route Mall in Tokai, which was built 35 years ago, will be up­dated into the mod­ern de­sign in­di­cated in this artist’s im­pres­sion.

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