Blue Route shopping complex to get major facelift
Tired Blue Route Centre to undergo R1 billion update and overhaul to introduce upmarket
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.
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.