For a brief (6 week) window in time the Baywest Mall development in Port Elizabeth laid claim to having the distinction of being the recipient of the largest shopping centre construction loan ever raised by Nedbank and then….. someone in Johannesburg raised a R3 Billion rand loan for their shopping centre.
The mall is one that will certainly change the landscape literally and figuratively as it will offer 250 retail outlets over 87 500 square metres of space and is situated on 320 hactares of land straddling the N2. The outlets will include a Fun Factory – as architect Derick Henstra fondly calls the entertainment area – which will include an ice rink, food court, games area and movies.
The siting of the mall is certainly one that is easily and quickly accessible from most points of the metro – a leisurely drive from Parsons Hill to Baywest clocked in at 12 minutes.
Opening of the mall is slated for 19 March 2015 – a mere blink of an eye in the life of this 20 year project which will expand with housing and leisure developments around it as well.
The development of the R1.7-billion Baywest Mall in Port Elizabeth is an integral part of job creation in the Eastern Cape, provincial MEC for Economic Development Mcebisi Jonas said at the mall’s official launch on yesterday.
Jonas was addressing a group of 300, comprising of Baywest stakeholders and journalists, at the Baywest Mall “Expect big things” launch party which took place in a giant marquee tent set up on the mall’s construction site.
“Provincial government believes this is a very important development for the region [in terms of job creation and economic development],” Jonas told attendees, who included top businessmen from around South Africa as well as local contractors and SMMEs involved in the project.
“It has been difficult for the Eastern Cape to dent unemployment, because it has a small primary sector while the bulk of the province’s population resides in former homelands.
“But the Baywest development confirms the confidence of investors in the provincial economy.”
Speaking about the significance of the mall nationally, urban designer Gerhard van der Merwe of Urban Concepts said: “We started with the idea that Port Elizabeth needed a strong retail offering.”
The mall, once complete in March 2015, would be the country’s premier shopping and lifestyle offering, according to the man behind Baywest Mall’s design, dhk Architects founding member Derick Henstra.
“It is going to be a shopping experience which is unrivalled in this country,” said Henstra. “We are very proud of this building. We kept the design as low impact as possible, to fit in with the environment around it. The greenery around the mall will be very prominent.”
The heads of two of the country’s major developers, Jaco Odendaal of Abacus Asset Management and Sisa Ngebulana of Billion Group, also weighed in on the project. The companies are co-developers on the Baywest Mall, as well as the 15 to 20-year Baywest City development.
“This is going to have a vast impact on the local economy, and residents will also benefit from the massive investment in local infrastructure,” Ngebulana said, referring to the R300-million investment in new roads infrastructure surrounding the mall – a joint project by the developers, the SA National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
Odendaal said it had taken them seven years to get to their present point of development.
“It is not an overnight venture,” he said. “It took us seven years to get here, and it will take up to 20 years for [Baywest City] to be fully realised.
“We’re not just building the mall for Port Elizabeth, but for the entire region.”
Ngebulana said major national tenants who had already committed to the mall would have a larger space to carry a wider range of stock. A large entertainment sector, called the fun Factory, would mean families would be able to spend several hours at the mall at a time, he said.
“When people visit, there will be something for everyone,” Ngebulana said.
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