Liberty Properties property development MD Caswell Rampheri told Engineering News Online that the professional team of contractors that would be responsible for the development was being finalised, and the tender would be awarded and announced within a month.
In February 2007, London-based RTKL Associates, a global practice of architects, planners, engineers and design consultants, were chosen as the complex designers. RTKL were the designers of the Beijing International Sports and Exhibition Center, which will house the 2008 Olympic Games, as well as designed the Gateway Shopping Centre in Umhlanga, and are the designers for the new Twin Towers precinct in New York.
Refurbishment and extension of the mall was the first of three phases, and the second and third phases would include the construction of a new 80-storey office tower, an additional hotel and increased residential housing, further extending the Sandton City retail offering alongside structural strengthening of the existing complex, revamping its external facade as well as that of the existing office tower, and reconfiguring the hotel malls. “We have broad vision and high aspirations for this enduring landmark,” said Rampheri.
Liberty Properties hoped to have 95% of the construction complete by the time the 2010 FIFA World Cup took place, when construction would be stopped temporarily to accommodate the increased number of visitors. By April 2011, it was expected that the project would be entirely complete.
Liberty Properties said that the reason for refurbishment was that after research and consultations, the shopping centre was perceived as “dark and tired”, and had to be modernised to keep up with the increasing competition, as well as the fact that there was significant demand from local and global retailers to have their flagship stores in Sandton City.
The interior refurbishment includes introducing more natural light and internal landscaping with ‘green’ touches, and the brightening of the parking areas, as close on 1 000 additional parking bays would be constructed.
Southern Sun’s Sandton Sun hotel lobby would be refurbished to include more dining areas and a rooftop restaurant with views of the city. Throughout the complex there will be an improvement in security, through the installation of surveillance equipment.
The first phase of the project also includes structural elements aimed at improving customer flow and movement by connecting the entire mall, which means completing the loop between Woolworths at one end and Edgars at the other. Connections between upper and lower levels will be more streamlined, access and vehicle flow will be improved and the complex will be further integrated, through easier access, with the Sandton Convention Centre, Nelson Mandela Square and the broader Sandton area.
The refurbishment would extend to the replacement of tiles, ceilings, bulkheads, columns and lighting. Out-of-date capital equipment such as lifts, escalators, air-conditioning, parking equipment and building management systems would also be replaced, and a key component of the project was improving electrical back up power to counteract future shortages of electricity.
Rampheri said that a key driver in the project managers brief was that as much of the refurbishment work as possible should be done outside of shopping hours so as to cause minimal disruption to store owners and shoppers. “We don’t want to kill our cash cow,” added Rampheri.
Sandton City is owned 75% by Liberty Properties and 25% by Pareto.