Scenic mall coming for Merrivale

2013-01-15 00:00

BULLISH about the medium- to long-term prospects of the retail sector in the Midlands, a Pietermaritzburg businessman is set to develop a new shopping centre in Merrivale.

Developer Gavin Wimbush, of TGP Properties, told The Witness it was planned to develop a 2 300  square-metre shopping centre in Merrivale in a picturesque setting along the busy R617.

The centre will be named The Hamptons and is expected to attract residents of Howick and the greater Midlands.

The property, which boasts three dams and impressive gardens, spans about 4,2 ha, including gardens covering 1,5 ha.

The centre will accommodate about 27 tenants, including 14 shops, each covering 30 square metres in the lower level.

A further 13 tenants will be on the upper level, which has a large verandah overlooking the dams and gardens.

Plans for the centre have been in the making for several years.

Wimbush said TGP Properties were at the final stages of planning. Building plans for the development were lodged recently with the uMngeni Municipality.

Building is expected to start by March this year.

The opening date is scheduled for October.

Wimbush, a businessman who was active in the local economy for many years, exited the family chemicals business, RT Chemicals, a few years ago. He soon saw the need for and potential of such a centre in the heart of a growing area.

Howick and Merrivale have experienced significant growth in recent years, mainly as a result of the development of major retirement villages. There has been investment in new retail space and in revamping existing centres.

The news follows the recent announcement of plans to build a massive new business park (Stockowners Business Park) near the Howick/Tweedie off-ramp along the N3.

Wimbush is confident of attracting a sizable restaurant, a country food and deli outlet, an antiques business and clothing and footwear shops. Other potential tenants are businesses involved in home décor, children’s interest and a coffee shop.

Wimbush is also targeting the arts and craft sector along the popular Midlands Meander.

“Hopefully, the crafters and artists in the Midlands will consider having a shop here as their retail arm. There is already some interest in this idea.”

A garden centre and a nursery will be set up in the area behind the main centre.

“Over the past four years, we have had many open days held by gardening clubs. Retired people have also been involved in the gardening fraternity and it is a very popular sector. There is definitely demand for this.”

Wimbush also hopes to attract clientele from the Midlands and the Berg, as well as regular travellers along the busy Southern Berg route.

The development will bring with it significant local economic development spinoffs during and beyond the construction phase.

Wimbush said a second phase of The Hamptons was also planned.

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