Waterfall City – Johannesburg’s R5bn Mall of Africa, which has over 300 shops, opened its doors on Thursday to streams of visitors amid traffic congestion.
Long queues already formed in the early hours of Thursday morning as cash-strapped consumers prepared to take advantage of the special opening deals.
Morné Wilken, CEO of Attacq, co-owner of the mall, told Fin24 that by 13:30 the mall's visitor monitoring systems counted more than 68 900 people moving through the doors. By 14:00 this had increased to 73 000, Vanessa Fourie of Purple Plum, a spokesperson for the mall, told Fin24. By 17:30 on Thursday this number was up to 97 845 people.
He said an hour before the official opening of the mall at 09:00, more than 10 000 consumers already walked through the doors. “The massive support for the mall is very encouraging and an endorsement for our investment in this iconic undertaking.”
Mall of Africa is co-owned by Attacq (80%) and Atterbury.
As for rumours of cars having been stolen at the mall, Fourie told Fin24 that no cars have been stolen in the car park of the mall. However, apparently cars were stolen in the surrounding area where people decided to park in public streets and on open areas.
"The police are aware of this and have been giving extra support. People should rather park within the mall," said Fourie. "We are also constantly updating the public on alternative routes they can take to the mall."
Fourie said retailers like Checkers, Game and Dion Wired have been reporting good retail activity and restaurants in the mall have also been doing well so far.
The 130 000m² super-regional mall in Waterfall City is located next to the N1 highway at the Allandale Road exit. There is lots of traffic in the direction of the mall due to the big interest, but special arrangements are being put in place to deal with it.
The new R160m Bridal Veil Road overpass bridge, which creates a direct link between Midrand and Waterfall City, opened at the same time as the mall.
Mall of Africa by the numbers
• Valued at R4.9bn upon opening for trade;
• Gross lettable area about 130 000m²;
• Actual construction area covers 550 000m² – or 78 rugby fields;
• Over 6km of shop front has been created inside the mall;
• 303 outlets (269 shops + 34 kiosks);
• 26 access points, 50 sets of lifts and 40 escalators;
• ±6 800 parking bays;
• Used in construction: Over 530km of post tension cable, 18 500 tonnes of rebar and 205 000 cubic metres of concrete;
• A stroll around the building’s perimeter will take you on a walk of 1.75km;
• 15 million people will visit the mall annually, according to "conservative estimates" by the developers;
• Up to 14 000 contractors from diverse disciplines were working on site on some days during the development phases;
• 4 500 people are estimated to be employed by and in the mall after opening;
• ±25 000 m² planned now for future expansion.
According to the developers it is the largest first phase completion of a mall ever in South Africa.
International brands present in the mall include Cotton On, H&M, Forever 21, Forever New, River Island, Mango and Versace. Local brands include Foschini Group, Mr Price and Truworths, Woolworths, Edgars, Checkers and Game.
Brands opening for the first time in SA include Armani Exchange, Helly Hansen, Asics, Zara Home, The Kooples, Under Armour, Mango Man and Amsterdam-based Soap Stories.
According to Wilken the opening of the mega mall "marks a significant strategic milestone" for retail in South Africa and brings a world-class lifestyle and retail destination to Gauteng as commercial hub of Southern Africa.
For Louis van der Watt, CEO of Atterbury, the mall is in line with its vision "to create working, shopping and entertainment spaces for everyone to live to their full potential".
According to Van der Watt, the project supports local economic development and stimulated job opportunities.
The layout of the mall is both straight and curved with a racetrack circulation. A central spine links a variety of offerings beneath an environmentally friendly roof covering, which the developers claim to be one of the largest of its kind in the world.
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