New com­plex – a gate­way to Africa

Old Mu­tual African sub­sidiary launches $40 mil­lion re­tail cen­tre in Malawi

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

CON­STRUC­TION of a new re­gional s h o p p i n g c e n t re i n L i l o n g we, Malawi will be­gin this month.

Malawi Prop­erty In­vest­ment Com­pany Ltd (MPICO), the lo­cally listed and largest prop­erty de­vel­opm e n t c o m p a ny i n M a l aw i , an­nounced re­cently that it is de­vel­op­ing a $40 mil­lion (R302.40m), 18 000m² shop­ping cen­tre devel­op­ment in the western sub­urbs of Li­longwe, the cap­i­tal of Malawi.

The devel­op­ment is fi­nanced by M P I C O, t h e N a t i o n a l B a n k o f Malawi and two ma­jor in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions. An ex­pe­ri­enced South African devel­op­ment team com­pris­ing de­vel­op­ers, fi­nanciers, pro­fes­sional de­sign­ers, en­gi­neers and contractors will be man­ag­ing the devel­op­ment and con­struc­tion of the project for MPICO.

Ex­plain­ing the think­ing be­hind this project, Dye Mawindo, the c h a i r m a n o f M P I C O, s a i d : “Li­longwe has a pop­u­la­tion of just un­der one mil­lion and has over­taken Blantyre as the coun­try’s largest city and fastest grow­ing ur­ban re­gion. Be­ing cen­trally sit­u­ated, it is per­fectly po­si­tioned to serve as a gate­way to the whole of Cen­tral Africa, in­clud­ing Zam­bia, Mo zam­bique, Tan­za­nia and Zim­babwe.

“The new com­plex, which will be called The Gate­way, is strate­gi­cally lo­cated at the im­por­tant in­ter­sec­tion of the north/south Kaunda Road western by­pass and the main east/west Mch­inji high­way lead­ing from Li­longwe to Zam­bia. It is only a short dis­tance from the con­gested Li­longwe Old Town.

“The Gate­way is on a prime, highly vis­i­ble site in an area which is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing rapid mid­dle and up­per in­come res­i­den­tial growth,” says Mawindo.

Gray Nthinda, MPICO’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor says: “Hav­ing op­er­ated in Malawi since 1972, MPICO is com­mit­ted to the sus­tain­able, long-term growth of the econ­omy. We con­tinue to de­liver value to our clients, share­hold­ers and com­mu­ni­ties in this coun­try and this prop­erty in­vest­ment is a tan­gi­ble ex­am­ple of that.”

Malawi, with a pop­u­la­tion of al­most 14 mil­lion has had a fairly sta­ble econ­omy based mainly on agri­cul­ture, es­pe­cially to­bacco, tea and cof­fee in re­cent years. It has faced up to the global re­ces­sion rel­a­tively well, and in the last three years has achieved an an­nual growth rate of seven per­cent or more.

MPICO’s in­struc­tion to the devel­op­ment man­agers fol­low­ing de­tailed mar­ket re­search was to cre­ate a re­gional cen­tre, the first in Malawi, with in­sti­tu­tional in­vest­ment grade fin­ishes of a stan­dard com­pa­ra­ble to sim­i­lar cen­tres in South Africa.

The cen­tre will have a 12 x 150m long, 12m wide re­tail mall which most of the shops will face, with 3m high glazed shop fronts. Sky­lights will em­pha­sise the dou­ble vol­ume spa­ces. The out­ward fac­ing food court over­looks the land­scaped car park which will cater for more than 1 100 ve­hi­cles pro­vid­ing six bays for each 100m² of space. The plans make al­lowance for a stand­alone petrol sta­tion and drive-up food out­let.

Mawindo said green­ing fea­tures were be­ing used “from ini­tial plan­ning through con­struc­tion and the even­tual on­go­ing man­age­ment of the com­pleted mall”.

The cen­tre will ac­com­mo­date about 80 re­tail out­lets an­chored by a 3 500m² Pick n Pay su­per­mar­ket in a strate­gic po­si­tion in the mall to en­sure max­i­mum ex­po­sure for each of the other ten­ants. The su­per­mar­ket will stock food, cloth­ing and small ap­pli­ances.

Many other big brand SA chains will be tak­ing space, along with Malaw­ian banks, sub­sidiaries of South African banks, ser­vice providers and lo­cal re­tail­ers. The restau­rants and fast food out­lets in the food court will be com­ple­mented by a cin­ema com­plex with three cine­mas, each with about 100 seats.

“Earth­works for the new cen­tre will start this month and the main con­struc­tion will com­mence about three months later. As Malawi ex­pe­ri­ences heavy sum­mer rain­fall, the con­struc­tion pro­gramme pro­vides for the roof to be in place by Novem­ber,” says Mawindo.

The of­fi­cial open­ing is sched­uled for Oc­to­ber 2011.

The de­sign al­lows for a sec­ond phase which will in­crease the size to 24 000m² as well as a six-storey tower block which will prob­a­bly be oc­cu­pied by a ho­tel and med­i­cal suites.

The South African ar­chi­tect on the project is Stauch Vorster Inc, a lead­ing firm of re­tail ar­chi­tects, which has in-depth ex­pe­ri­ence in ma­jor re­tail cen­tre de­sign through­out Africa. He is work­ing with Malaw­ian ar­chi­tects, Kan­jere and As­so­ci­ates.

It is ex­pected that about 30 per­cent of the to­tal devel­op­ment cost will be sourced in Malawi, and where pos­si­ble, lo­cal ma­te­ri­als will be used.

Tony van Heer­den, who is co-or­di­nat­ing the let­ting of space in the devel­op­ment, says that about 70 per­cent of the space is un­der ne­go­ti­a­tion. An­ton Bieber, of Broll Malawi, who is based in Blantyre, is as­sist­ing with the leas­ing of stores to lo­cal Malaw­ian re­tail­ers. Call Tony van Heer­den on +27 83 325 3987 or e-mail tonyvh@mweb.co.za. Call An­ton Bieber on +265 99 996 8855 or e-mail abieber@broll.co.mw.

PRIME SITE:An artist’s im­pres­sion of the $40 mil­lion re­gional shop­ping cen­tre in Li­longwe, de­signed by Stauch Vorster Inc and de­vel­oped by Malawi Prop­erty In­vest­ment Com­pany Ltd.

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