The state-of-the-art regional shopping and lifestyle centre is owned by Liberty group and its extension forms part of the Liberty expansion programme to add further value to one of South Africa’s best-performing property portfolios.
Liberty Properties, on behalf of Liberty group, manages a R12-billion portfolio of 33 strategically-located buildings with a total gross leasable area of more than 2,1-million m2. The strategically-situated Mid-lands Mall development is Liberty Properties’ first major retail develop- ment in Kwazulu-Natal.
The original centre opened in late 2003, the year Maritzburg was reinstated as the provincial capital of Kwazulu-Natal and a strong revival of the local economy was emerg- ing. Since then, the Midlands Mall has become a commanding presence in the regional economy and has significantly contributed to the revitalisation of the Maritzburg area. “Foot traffic at Liberty Midlands Mall has increased by 14% a year and Liberty properties expects that the mall expansion will provide a further boost to the development of the regional economy,” says Bentel Associates International project director for retail development Stephen Roberts. “The centre has added a new dimension to the area; it has become the focal point of retail activity and entertainment in Maritzburg and the resultant increase in local confidence has provided a fresh impetus for further economic activity and development.
“It has been an outstandingly successful mall – after only two years, the expansion has become necessary to meet the phenomenal consumer and retail demand. Lib-erty and its management company, Investec, have taken great care to ensure that the tenant mix is based on the needs of the local community. Expansion, less than two years later, confirms that turnover growth is expected to continue at its present high levels.” This regional shopping centre is an enclosed mall, situated on a 41-ha site with high visibility and direct access to and from the N3. It currently has a gross leasable area of 39 000 m2 and includes retail elements, a food court, cinemas and extensive parking. Pick ‘n Pay Hypermarket and Woolworths are the anchor tenants. The centre currently attracts 600 000 visitors a month and serves a wide catchment area that extends from Harrismith to Durban, and Stanger to Underberg. The mall was nominated Com-mercial Building of the Year at the Building Excellence Awards in April last year. Roberts says that the highly successful existing architectural style and design elements will be carried through to the extension. “BAI incorporated elements of the heritage of the Midlands area and local Zulu culture into the design of the mall.” The extensions will add 30 000 m2 to the centre with the retail component using 13 300 m2 of this space. Edgars, the major anchor tenant in the extension, will use 4 500 m2.
An exciting aspect of the expansion project is the 12 000-m2 addition to the Food Court that will accommodate four new restaurants. The existing Food Court consists mainly of fast-food outlets and family restaurants but the extension will feature more sophisticated dining venues. “The new restaurants will face an inner court with an external element providing indoor and outdoor seating. A piazza ambience will be created and should prove popular in Maritzburg’s warm climate,” says Roberts.
The total gross leasable area will cover about 56 000 m2 when the extensions are completed in September. The design plans of the new extension also feature additional undercover and outdoor parking, which will boost the available parking to in excess of 3 000 bays.
An integral part of any successful design is a cognisance of and a respect for the surrounding environ- ment. The Midlands region of Kwazulu-Natal has a rich natural and historical heritage, which includes conservation areas, green belts, hiking trails, public parks, and gardens that are enjoyed by both residents and tourists.
The Midlands Mall is the first retail development to appoint an on-site environmental officer to ensure that adequate attention is given to environmental issues in the surrounding areas. To build the original mall, the Town Bush Stream river had to be diverted and rehabilitated. The site, originally a quarry, also required rehabilitation of the old quarry faces. Ongoing conservation and rehabilitation will take place along with the extension of the mall. “The expansion is expected to sustain local construction-industry jobs and job creation in retail and service sectors will further reduce unemployment in the area.”