Opening the way for ‘further retail development’

2011-09-30 00:00

FOR generations the people of Edendale have had to travel to the Pietermaritzburg CBD and its surrounds to do the most basic of shopping trips, loading minibus taxis with a month’s worth of groceries at a time.

But this will no longer be the case following the opening of the R450 million Greater Edendale Mall yesterday.

They came in their thousands, with families standing for several hours queues stretching for 300 metres to well beyond Shoprite. The giant parking lot was full and vehicles lined the streets of Edendale.

The chairperson of co-developers McCormick Property Development, John McCormick, told The Witness that an estimated 60 000 people had visited the mall by 4 pm yesterday.

The sense of excitement and expectancy during the opening of the mall was matched by the intense hope that this giant development will serve as a catalyst for further investment in an area often overlooked, but that is home to hundreds of thousands of city residents.

With more than 100 tenants spread across 31 520 square metres, this landmark retail facility has created about 1 200 jobs and is one of the largest developments in the city’s history.

The properties in the surrounding area will undoubtedly attract interest from would-be investors soon — and the value of local properties is expected to rise as a result of this newfound sense of confidence in Edendale’s economic prospects.

The manager of investment promotion at the Msunduzi Municipality, David Gengan, told The Witness yesterday, “We believe that this development will be a catalyst for other developments in the area.

“Already we have interest in the land we [the Msunduzi Municipality] own nearby. It’s been a long haul. When we proposed this concept in Edendale 10 years ago, nobody was interested.”

The development is seen as a good example of how municipalities can help facilitate investment through ongoing engagement with investors.

The chief executive officer of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB), Melanie Veness, told The Witness that the pent-up demand for conveniently located retail facilities in Edendale has finally been met.

“They have a phenomenally strong tenant base and they are a force to be reckoned with,” she added.

Nandi Mandela, a director of the co-developers New Ground Investments, told The Witness that they were overwhelmed by the support of the community.

“The parking lot was basically full just after 7 am,” Mandela observed.

The president of the PCB, Paris Dlamini, told The Witness that the social function of such a landmark should not be underestimated, as the mall will serve as a hub for local families to gather.

“This sets the trend for the possibility of further retail development in the greater Vulindlela corridor,” Dlamini added.

National retailers include Shoprite, Pick n Pay, Truworths, Edgars Active, Markhams, Jet, Legit, Mr Price, Vodacom, Cell C, Chicken Licken, Hungry Lion, Spur, Drivethru McDonald’s and Steers.

A number of local retailers have set up shop in the mall, including Poobie Naidoo Sports, Asmalls, Miguel’s Bakery and Focus. Access to financial services and banking is assured with the presence of most major banks, as well as Old Mutual.

The 8 000 square metre taxi rank, which has 288 parking bays, has been specifically designed in consultation with the regional taxi association through Umgungundlovu Regional Taxi Council chairperson Boy Zondi, in order to take into account the transport needs of shoppers.

kavith@witness.co.za

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