RETAILING: Canal Walk Extension On Stream
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At a time when most property developers are cutting back on retail projects, Capetonians will be encouraged to learn that Canal Walk, the Cape’s most successful retail complex, with a foot count of 21 million per annum, is right now bringing on stream a 15,514m² extension to its trading area. This has a contract value of R250 million.
The contract, which in any part of the world would very definitely qualify as “fast track”, kicked off in May 2008 and will be fully complete in July 2009.
The financiers of this extension are the current co-owners, Hyprop Investment Limited and Ellerines Bros. The new extension is sited on the south side of Canal Walk and links in with its first floor parking deck. It will, therefore, front directly onto the N1 freeway to the north.
Betts Townsend (Pty) Ltd are the project managers and principal agents of this project. They are long-serving associates of the owners, Hyprop, and its affiliate management companies, Redefine, Apex-Hi and Madison (which have recently consolidated into one group). The extension consists of six standalone “pods”. The location, orientation and height of these presented the designers with an interesting challenge because it has forced them to build across the southern entrances to Canal Walk and because, too, the buildings here could have blanked out at least part of the view of the existing centre. However, the extensive use of full-length glazing on both the southern and northern façades will give these “pods” see through transparency and in the process bring a modern avant garde retail addition to a complex which has until now relied on semi-classical, traditional design, especially on its façades.
The design allows for an additional ±50 000m² of lower and mezzanine parking levels to be linked to the existing parking decks.
The design concept for the pods, said Michael Taylor, Director and Partner of Betts Townsend, gives the retailers the opportunity to display adequately their full range and make use of additional public exposure through impressive curtain wall architecture.
The pods, he says, will be “destination” stores. Certain pods will be served by their own “moment type” bistros, however, leaving the main centre to continue housing the bigger restaurants and coffee shops.
Those who have bought into the new concept and signed leases are Foschini @Home Living Space, Golfers’ Club (golfing equipment), Cape Union Mart (outdoor/leisure store), Bride and Co (wedding accessories), Hi Fi Corporation and Sports Direct (for all sports outfits and gadgets).
The use of Lowe rated green tinted transparent full-length double glazing on the north and south façades, will be will be ±7 to 8,5 metres high, is the striking architectural feature of this project – and the good news is that the sophisticated 25mm thick double glazing (including an 8mm cavity) is locally manufactured. Betts Townsend has a policy of supporting SA manufacturers wherever possible.
The north and south “book ends” of each pod are concrete and plastered brickwork structures and for those the designers have selected a colour palette of cream and beige which complements that of the existing centre.
With work on the ground floor and mezzanine levels complete and 100% of the structural work on the pods also now finished, tenants have moved into their 60 day fit out periods. Their designs are subject to appraisal and approval by Betts Townsend and project architects, KMH Architects. Care has been taken to ensure that the see-through look is not impeded and that certain prescribed interior design standards are adhered to.
The first opening, of Foschini @Home Living Space, will take place on May 18th 2009 and thereafter openings will be staggered until the final opening in July 2009. All work is currently on budget and certain sections are ahead of the programme. The main contractors, WBHO, are performing well, says Taylor. In administering this project, Betts Townsend have held combined design and weekly site meetings – on a project moving as fast as this, design modifications, says Taylor, tend to continue almost to completion.
Taylor said that Hyprop and Ellerines Bros foresee the new centre adding significantly to Canal Walk’s turnover by the end of 2009. Asked if this was not an inauspicious time to be launching major retail extensions, Taylor said that the larger retail landlords take a long-term view and tend to push ahead through thick and thin.
“It is, of course, difficult now to predict when consumer confidence will return and when the retail sector will witness a significant upturn – but Betts Townsend’s view (and that of our clients) remains optimistic. Every previous downturn has been followed by an upswing that reached new levels. The current crisis is serious but it seems likely that at this popular centre this will become evident in the latter half of 2010.”
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