Boardwalk Mall in Gqeberha kicks off construction phase
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THE R500 million Boardwalk Mall redevelopment in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro’s Boardwalk Precinct will go ahead as planned at a time when many other big retail property landlords are struggling with vacancies and are selling shopping malls to reduce debt.
The developers of the upgrade of the retail area of Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World, Flanagan & Gerard Group and Sun International subsidiary Emfuleni Resorts, plan to complete the development on September 22 next year, Flanagan & Gerard Group managing director Paul Gerard said in an interview this week at an event to mark the construction phase of the project.
The main contractor is WBHO. Flanagan & Gerard develops and invests in dominant regional shopping centres, as well as high-end niche community centres. It developed and co-owns Ballito Junction Regional Mall, as well as Morningside Shopping Centre, Springs Mall, Vaal Mall, Highveld Mall, Middelburg Mall, Thavhani Mall and Mall of the North.
The Boardwalk development would more than double the existing retail space in the precinct. Tenants would include two supermarkets, two pharmacies, a specialist food retailer, major banks, a variety of restaurants, coffee shops and fast-food options, and health and beauty, home and décor, cellular and electronics, gifting, sports and speciality shops. Gerard said it was the very large regional shopping centres that were most affected by tenant vacancies and lower turnovers that were part of the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting restrictions.
He said all of Flanagan & Gerard’s portfolio of 10 smaller shopping centres, for instance, had recently seen year-on-year footfall growth in excess of 2019 levels, and although spending patterns had changed, with fewer families coming out to shop and more instances of one person buying for the entire family, average spend per consumer was also higher.
He said the company’s focus on bringing in tenants with a strong social media presence, such as Legends Barber and Drip Footwear, was also doing well in their malls.
He said the Boardwalk Mall would cater to the surrounding communities, which included some good schools, the Summerstrand, Humewood and Warmer suburbs, Hoby Beach, the university, the hotel and casino precinct, and the conference centre.
It was close to the airport, which also brought a great deal of business travellers to the area. Gerard said the area was a natural springboard for business people into the rest of the Eastern Cape, and nearby hotels usually enjoyed relatively high year-round occupancy because of business and leisure travel.
A Capital Hotel would be situated on the first floor of the retail centre.
“We are really creating a place for business people to meet and greet and also to do their daily shopping,” he said.
The developers would work with a local community liaison officer to ensure optimal positive impact. Typically, about 2000 jobs were created with a development of this kind during construction and about 1500 permanent posts thereafter.
Gerard said local contractors and materials would be used wherever possible, and there would be significant investment in upgrading surrounding roads as part of the development.
With 17 hectares of land available for the redevelopment, Boardwalk Mall represented the first phase, with future plans possibly including additional hospitality, medical suites, bigbox retail and a health club.
Emfuleni resorts chairperson Bongi Siwisa said he had first turned the sod of the Boardwalk development 23 years ago and their vision for the precinct, despite the pandemic, remained firm. He said the planned redevelopment would provide Nelson Mandela Bay with a much-needed economic revival and boost job creation.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE