RMB Real Estate Investment Banking: a large-scale partner in a mega mall redevelopment project

Dylan Stevenson.
Dylan Stevenson.

BROWNFIELD developments have unique challenges. Most shopping centres are built from scratch, so brownfield expansion tends to be complicated because existing operations have to continue, thus requiring partners with an appreciation for the inevitable complexities that arise. 

When Accelerate Property Fund embarked on an expansion to its Fourways Mall, it chose RMB as a partner because of its track record and funding experience in large scale real estate development projects – prerequisites when converting an existing shopping mall into one that now rivals Sandton City, Menlyn and Mall of Africa for the status of one of South Africa’s largest shopping and entertainment complexes. 

Fourways’ population density and attractiveness as a location underpinned the decision to expand the mall into a multi-use retail and entertainment precinct. The expansion and refurbishment were also driven by tenant demand and adds 90,000m2 of retail floor space, positioning Fourways Mall as the dominant shopping centre in one of South Africa’s fastest growing nodes. 

In addition to new and existing retailers, the complex boasts a host of food and entertainment options for both adults and children. It fits into the global trend towards “shoptainment” – where consumers are encouraged to see visits to shopping malls as entertainment rather than merely fulfilling utilitarian needs. 

It is no secret that consumers are under pressure and in a highly competitive retail environment, malls are looking to stay ahead by attracting families who are looking for an outing and Fourways Mall is keen on tapping into that segment of the market. 

The expansion takes the mall to 178,000m2, and will culminate in a 200,000m2 complex once the premises for French DIY retailer Leroy Merlin is completed in 2021. An additional 250 new brands brings the total number of shops to 450 and foot traffic is estimated at 1.2 million shoppers per month. Boasting 52 entrances and a total of 8000 parking bays (3000 new), the redevelopment also provided a stimulus for the neighbourhood as a R400m road infrastructure upgrade included turning Cedar Road into a dual carriageway and the widening of Witkoppen Road. 

In keeping with the promise of an experiential shopping environment, the mall already has a 4,500mBounce trampoline park and KidZania, a 8,500m2 facsimile of a city is due to open in the first quarter of 2020. KidZania will contain a Boeing 737 and children up to the age of 18 will get to immerse themselves in the workings of a city; learn to manage money through a fabricated commercial ecosystem; and navigate the streets, buildings and a transport service that are meant to mimic a functioning economy. 

The anticipated Gautrain route expansion into Fourways is expected to further boost the area as a shopping and entertainment node as the population continues to densify. Initially developed in 1994, the Fourways Mall is at the heart of this growth node – that now stretches to Steyn City to the north. The expansion was necessitated by retailers’ demands for larger floor space as their customer bases grew and could not be accommodated within the footprint of the previous mall. The new mega mall aims to cater for new customers that would otherwise have travelled to Sandton or further afield in search of better shopping options. 

Large-scale real estate development projects need partners with stature. RMB is proud to have been chosen to partner with Accelerate in the redevelopment of the Fourways Mall. The bank acted as debt advisor, mandated lead arranger, co-funder and joint interest rate hedge provider for the R3 billion redevelopment of the Fourways Mall. It was a multi-disciplinary approach in keeping with RMB’s expertise in offering comprehensive, structured real estate financing solutions.

This content is sponsored, provided and written by Rand Merchant Bank. 

 

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