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Who’s Going to Wear the Green Tights?

Gateway Hotel - Umhlanga

Gateway Hotel – Umhlanga

Have you ever witnessed one of those moments at a glittering event, where the company envoy ostentatiously hands over the enormous polystyrene dummy cheque to the suitably grateful charity representative. The cameras flash, the recipient’s knees bend a little, the company boss swells and flashes a self-satisfied smile. People clap and everyone swoons in awe at the selfless generosity of business. Onlookers declare: “They do have a heart.” And “It’s not just about the money.” Let’s not pretend that business doesn’t need positive affirmation from the community. Face it; we all like a good pat on the back.
Which brings up a growing trend in the world that has found its feet in South Africa. Green Buildings. If ever there was a way of scoring points with the community, government and those with not only green fingers but whose superhero sports green underwear – the environmentalist, this is it.  IF you’re a land lord don’t knock it, because something’s in it for you.
Recently this was demonstrated in the latest extension to that Mecca of upmarket shopping, Sandton City. A splendid dome graces the new Protea Court. This crowning expansion, involves interior refurbishments and 30,000sqm of new retail space. The Protea Court roof has been created with a product called Texlon, which is made up of multiple layers of foil known as ethylene-tetra-fluoro-ethylene (ETFE) it’s so green it could be mistaken for peas.
“Texlon is an innovative technology used worldwide but has been used for the first time in South Africa at Sandton City,” affirms architect Tia Kanakakis from MDS Architecture. “It was selected as a suitable roofing material as it is lightweight and an environmentally-friendly climatic envelope”.
Kanakakis pointed out excitedly: “The ETFE material is unique in that it does not degrade under ultraviolet light or atmospheric pollution.” The material doesn’t harden yellow or deteriorate. Furthermore, as the surface is very smooth and has anti-adhesive properties, the envelope self-cleanses in rain.” For Sandton City this means going Green and they are being richly rewarded already. Sandton City Manager Sharon Swain was able to announce the arrival of international names like Dumond, Inglot, Carlo Pignatelli, Miguel Vieira and Kurt Geiger to the centre.

Nedbank Ridgeside Durban

Nedbank Ridgeside Durban

Of course Green buildings aren’t new. Twenty-one years ago two initiatives were launched which were foundational to  establishing the concept of energy-efficient buildings and green building: BRE (British Research Establishment) released BREEAM, and BREEAM became the basis for a host of other rating tools including LEED in the US and the much talked about Green Star in Australia.
What about the landlord cost/tenant benefit scenario?  Investor’s landlords may well ask what’s in it them, surely more of a good old pat on the back? The Australian Financial Review explored the importance of green-star ratings, which basically determine how Green a building is, in attracting tenants to buildings. When looking for leasing locations tenants are now demanding at least a four star rating. In Australian cities the demand for the now-coveted green buildings is driving up costs in refurbishing and retrofitting older buildings. Greener adds value and demands higher rents.
According to property investment analysts IPD, Green Star buildings are outperforming non-rated buildings on a financial basis by a significant margin.
Here in South Africa,  Llewellyn van Wyk, Editor at Large for Green Building South Africa writes: “Ultimately I believe green building is in the national interest, and should be an issue driven by Government: for this reason, I strongly supported the establishment of a Part X “Environmental Sustainability” to the South African National Building Regulations and look forward to it being populated with the full range of deep green building imperatives in due course.”


The world-class, high-tech design of the Durban ICC building itself incorporates green elements such as large glass facades for natural lighting, reducing the need for artificial lighting, and energy saving escalators which only activate when stepped on. In addition, the Centre utilises energy-efficient air-conditioning systems which build up ice overnight, which is used to cool the building the following day. Indigenous landscaping is a feature of the Durban ICC, with the majority of plants local to Kwazulu-Natal, limiting the reliance on irrigation. The Durban ICC’s water use profile is low for a building of its size. The installation of sensor taps in the bathrooms prevents water waste and even its toilets have been converted to a more efficient water usage system.

In the US the Green standard is held up by LEED, which has not been without its squabbles:  Henry Gifford has made his living designing mechanical systems for energy-efficient buildings in New York City. And he admits the (LEED) program has popularized the idea of green building: “LEED has probably contributed more to the current popularity of green buildings in the public’s eye than anything else. It is such a valuable selling point that it is featured prominently in advertisements for buildings that achieve it. LEED-certified buildings make headlines, attract tenants and command higher prices.”

By means of counter point Ben Ikenson reports on the current controversy embroiling LEED and hence whole Green Building bureaucracy in the US:”But for years, Gifford has been a tenacious and vocal opponent of LEED, claiming that the program’s “big return on investment’ is more a matter of faith than fact, and that LEED simply “fills the need for a big lie to the public.” Last October, Gifford filed a class-action lawsuit for more than $100 million against the USGBC, accusing the non-profit of making false claims about how much energy LEED-certified buildings actually save and using its claims to advance a monopoly in the market that robs legitimate experts — such as himself — of jobs. We may ask ourselves if we need this in South Africa.
Back to the benefits, conventional wisdom has it that not only does the environment benefit from the carefully considered construction that goes with Green building, but that people are generally happier and more content working or living in Greener buildings. Comments Dr Suzan Oelofse, IWMSA Central Branch Chairman, “The environmental benefits derived from green buildings can further be enhanced by including waste minimisation and recycling principles in this type of environment.”
Further to this, Oelofse believes that Green buildings should be orientated in such a way as to reduce the heat load and to optimise shade and thereby enabling the use of more energy efficient lighting systems and air conditioning.  This makes economic sense in the light of on-going increasing Eskom electricity costs and it makes sound economic and environmental sense to use renewable resources and to become as energy efficient as possible.
It seems the devil may be in the bureaucracy and that making buildings greener may require state rather than private regulation if the LEED struggles are anything to go by. But there are clearly many practical and financial benefits to Greening up the workplace. Besides there’s nothing quite like that warm approval that comes from cosying up to a superhero or heroine in green tights.

South African Shopping Malls: Economic Slowdown, what Economic Slowdown

While most of the world has been tightening belts, trimming off fat and slashing budgets, in shopping mall land it seems to be full steam ahead, regardless of the current economic climate.

In November 2011 Sandton City expanded by 30 000sqm to 215 000sqm, 144 000sqm being retail space.  Its Edgars store was upgraded as the flag ship store for Edcon to 12 000sqm.  Throw in another 58 new retailers and by year end Sandton City had mushroomed like never before. Reinventing itself again, keeping its image fresh and exciting attracting names like  Lacoste, Paul & Shark, Guess, Lacroix and Nina Ricci  as well as Hugo Boss and a host of other glittering international brands.

Sandton city continues to be a catalyst for retail growth for the whole of Sandton CBD which itself is in the middle of a mini construction boom. However one may spare a thought for the Village Mall, which is scheduled for demolition next year. This is to make way for the first of a four phase redevelopment on the site scheduled to begin in 2012.

The Liberty Promenade Shopping Centre in Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town was formally launched by Liberty Properties this year, following a refurbishment investment of over R500 million, adding 24000sqm, an increase of close to 30% in the complex’s retail real estate.

Middelburg Mall saw an increase in GLA (gross leasable area) from 34 000sqm to 43 000sqm this year. It now stands at 95% let ahead of its 2012 opening, so no white elephant here. The mall will open with a mix of 94 stores including Checkers, Woolworths, Edgars, Pick n’ Pay and Game. Expansion potential has been built into the mall in anticipation of a GLA increase to as much as 50 000sqm. So more expansion is on the way.

Bryanston/Sandton gets yet another shopping centre in the new Nicolway Shopping Centre, which opens for trade in Sandton in April 2012. It will be home to three supermarkets and a range of handpicked restaurants and coffee shops, with an emphasis on quality and personal service. With direct access from William Nicol Drive, the 23 000sqm centre will offer South Africa’s first new-concept Woolworths supermarket, a Food Lovers Market and a Checkers.

On the other side of Sandton, in response to demand from both retailers and shoppers, the successful Pan Africa Shopping Centre in Alexandra will expand by 2 500sqm. The expansion began in December and is scheduled for completion by early 2012. Pedestrian and vehicle counts show that more than 10 000 people use the area daily, along with some 1500 taxis. The expansion will bring new retailers – including Mr Price, Truworths and Clicks – into the mall, to join the other 60 stores already trading.

Right on the doorstep of a recently completed R50 million sectional title residential development, the R360 million Protea Glen Shopping Centre is described as the only retail destination in this area of mushrooming residential developments. Retailers are moving quickly to secure space in the 30 000sqm development. The centre will have a selection of 90 stores when it opens for trade on 27 September 2012. A second phase is already planned. A 3500sqm Shoprite and a 3500sqm Pick ‘n Pay will anchor the new centre.

Resilient Property Income Fund, one of the largest retail property investors in the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces, started development in October this year, on the new Burgersfort Mall regional shopping centre, scheduled to open in April 2013. The mall is situated on the main intersection of the R37, which runs between Polokwane and Burgersfort and the R555, which links Steelport to Burgersfort. The first phase of the centre will comprise of some 40 000sqm, with expansion potential of up to 75 000 sqm. It is to be anchored by Edgars, Game and Shoprite. The company’s investments include, amongst others, shopping centres in Mussina, Tzaneen, Thohoyandou, Mokopane, Nelspruit and Polokwane. It is also the major owner and co-developer of the recently opened Mall of the North shopping centre, which is currently the largest centre in the far northern part of the country.

The Mall@Carnival has recently turned the East Rand upside down with the opening of Phase 2, which moved Mall@Carnival into a Super Regional Shopping Centre with a GLA of approximately 72 000sqm. The Phase 2 was opened on 22 September and is already trading well above expectations.

Bay City West Mall is a new regional mall concept for Port Elizabeth. The mall will encompass a retail mall, office parks, residential nodes, private schools with associated sporting facilities, hotels, a hospital complex, motor city, a light industrial precinct and a lifestyle centre. The first phase is the retail mall, construction has begun with completion expected to be in March 2013.

Bridge City, in Durban’s Kwamashu/Phoenix intersection has been trading since Oct 2009. But phases of this urban renewal project continue to be built which includes, among other things, residential apartments, a hospital, a magistrates court and government offices.  This October saw the completion of Bridge City’s underground railway station situated beneath the mall. The development which is being linked to a bus and taxi hub will be an intermodal transportation facility easing road congestion and providing convenient transportation for about 613,000 residents in the surrounding areas of lnanda, KwaMashu, Ntuzuma and Phoenix.

Other high profile refurbishments/extensions include:  Elim in Limpopo gets a 50 store centre next year, Tokai’s Blue Route mall is being redeveloped to create 56 000sqm of retail and entertainment space by next year including a Checkers/Hyper. The Grayston Mall in Sandton is having a multimillion rand facelift. The grand opening of The Greater Edendale Mall was on the 29th September this year, it has hit an astonishing foot count of 1.2 million people. Then there’s Diepkloof Square Community Centre, a project set in the heart of one of Soweto’s most affluent arears, Diepkloof Ext3. It includes 39 shops with Pick n’ Pay as anchor.  Overport City in Berea, Durban is to get a R100million upgrade. The Ballito Bay mall seems to be rising above its bitter wrangling with competitors and community and is finally reaching its completion.

This year also saw the landmark purchase of Cape Town’s V&A waterfront. SA’s largest listed property fund, Growthpoint Properties and Public Investment Corporation announced in February this year, that they had bought, in equal proportions, 100% of Lexshell 44 General Trading for R9.717 billion. A hard act to follow. On a much smaller scale Fountainhead Property bought a 25% stake in Centurion Mall for more than R751million. Investec Property Fund, which listed on the JSE in April, said to be on an acquisition trail, announced on 25 October this year, that it had bought retail complex Great North Road Plaza in Musina for R145m. The 86 shop South Coast Mall also went on auction later in the year for an undisclosed amount.

Space prohibits further tabulation of the many other developments on the shopping centre front. Sufficient to say that although Shopping Mall development both new and upgraded is a long term strategy, it’s clear that there is a great deal of confidence in the future of retail in South Africa. Record prices for large malls and high occupancy rates in many centres reveals optimism about where to invest in the future.  One may be tempted to say: “Economic Slow-down, What Economic Slow-down?”

Sandton – Hard Sweet work or Sweet Hard work?

The Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote that change in all things is sweet. Scottish comedian Billy Chrystal said that change is just a lot of hard work! Witnessing the changes to the SandtonCBDskyline you may see something sweet here and there, but it’s mostly the result of a lot of hard work.


Much has been publicised about SandtonCity’s big R1.77bn first phase expansion. One can’t help draw attention to Sandton City’s retail space expansion to a total of 143 690m² upon completion of the first phase this month, taking the complex, which includes the Sandton hotel and office component, to 215 000sqm. But there is more happening in Sandton besideSandtonCity.


Part of what was once referred to as the wealthiest square mile inAfrica, the Village Walk,  these days only attracts a steady stream of JSE visitors’ vehicles seeking a parking space. Management of the once thriving collection of eateries and fashionable boutiques seemed to lose any sense of vision in the early 2000s. The once fashionable in-spot of the 90’s, sadly, has discount posters in its windows and wispy tumble-weeds of litter blowing about its courseways.


Having started as a rumour earlier in the year, it’s now conventional wisdom that the Village Walk will be demolished and even that 60 year old Grand Dame the Balalaika Hotel will be torn down and resurrected on the corner ofMaude StreetandRivonia Road. Of course it was never a matter of competing with its two sistersSandtonCityandNelson Mandela Square, rather it will be a matter of complementing and supplementing those enormously successful retail and entertainment venues. The current Village Walk basement will be retained and two floors of retail and some office space will be layered above. The whole development will be in four phases over eight years. Only a couple of blocks from the Gautrain station the venue has exciting potential. An international hotel is also on the cards making up the rest of the 180 000sqm of the project’s space.


Investors are showing enthusiasm for the acquisition of land or buildings for redevelopment close to the Gautrain station and it is envisaged that the area surrounding the station will be the centre of sustainable growth in the value of commercial property. There are even plans afoot to build above the station itself!


115 West Street, right opposite the station, is the future site of the Alexander Forbes head office for its approximately 2200Johannesburgstaff. The refurbished, eight storey 36 950m² office building will be embracing some green building codes with all natural light and energy efficient lighting. Throw in super fast lifts and state-of-the-art auditoriums  stuffed with all the latest technology, a gym, snazzy coffee shop and staff restaurant and you have a self contained little urban island. Nebank is putting up the R840 million funding for the development. This will become Zenprop’s Properties’ flagship of South African commercial properties. Alexander Forbes is expected to take occupation of the building on1 October 2012.


Characterised by a large number of owner occupied developments and with the majority of international banks, the JSE Securities Exchange, legal and management consultancies, Sandton, is widely acknowledged as the premier financial district inSouth Africa. There are currently over thirty development applications for the SandtonCBD, which includes  zoning changes  and renovations.


One such revamp is Southern Sun’s landmark Grayston Hotel. It’s closing its doors next month with a proposal having been lodged for the redevelopment of the building.


Other developments on the boil are 20 000sqm of sectional title office space on the corner of Katherine and West Streets – for occupation in 2013; 6 Sandown Valley Crescent, with a gross lettable area of 18 000sqm and a projected completion date of mid-2011; 16 000sqm at 1 Protea Place, with Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Attorneys as a tenant plus other smaller tenants; and Sandhurst Office Park, where 26 000sqm of office space becomes available in 2013.


Much of the demand for development seems to revolve around the financial sector. Developments planned over the next five years include: 9 000sqm at140 West Street; 35 000sqm for Standard Bank at11 Alice Lane; 150 000sqm on the site of the old Sandton municipal offices; and atFNBTowers, 25 000sqm of additional space.


One of the biggest changes to the Sandton skyline will be on the corner of West, Stella and Rivonia Roads. Insurance giant, Old Mutual, wants new headquarters inSouth Africa. Its answer is to build a multi-storey office precinct next to the Gautrain station. Old Mutual is to move their head office fromPresident Streetin Jo’burg’sCBDto where theChadrien Placebuilding stands, at the corner ofRivonia RoadandWest Street. The first 50 000 square meters will be ready for occupation by 2013, and the final product will be a 35 storey building.Chadrien Placeis currently an ageing Tudor-style block of 33 flats. On average units were valued at about R1,5m a couple of years ago. That all changed thanks to the Gautrain. Old Mutual is believed to have paid R400 million to a development consortium for theChadrien Placesite.


Finally on the auction front, one gets an idea of the demand in theCBD. During Auction Alliance’s September multiple auction event, two A-Grade office blocks in the heart of the SandtonCBD, offering a first rate development opportunity, were sold for R48.5 million. With A Gross Lettable Area of 2530sqm, this represents a bulk value of over R19,000/sqm.


There may be an economic down turn, but the future for Sandton looks set to change. For some it’s going to be sweet, for others, a lot of hard work.

Learn More about Sandton visit

Sandton City the Queen Bee for Fashionistas

Like it or not Christmas is around the corner.

In anticipation of Christmas 2011 Sandton city is flirting, no, building, long term relationships with some of the world’s most glittering names in world fashion. So someone’s had to make some room.

SandtonCity’s much anticipated R1.77 billion first phase redevelopment is being undertaken by Liberty Properties on behalf of owners Liberty Group (75%) and Pareto Ltd (25%). There has been a shortage of retail space in the centre; despite being one ofSouth Africa’s largest. They’re hoping the 30 000sqm extension will be sufficient retail space in expectation of the flurry of high fashion tenants wanting visibility at the centre.

The development will see an additional 69 stores toSandtonCity, the resultant total will come to 360.SandtonCity’s total retail space, with the extension, will now be an extraordinary 143,700sqm upon completion of phase one. The whole complex, including offices space and the hotel, will now come to 220,000sqm!

So who’s coming to the party!

Where to begin? Let’s name drop with: Zui, Okaidi, Nespresso, Lecoqsportif, Steve Madden, Tag Heuer, Bellagio, Pandora, Democratic Republic, Ben Sherman, Hackett, Jack Friedman. That’s just a start.

Lacoste and Lacoste Live

The Surtee Group, being a cutting edge luxury clothing retailer, will be opening a breathtaking Lacoste flagship store. This concept store has only been seen on the Champs de Elysees in Paris andNew York’sFifth Avenue, as well as inHamburg. The store is expected to be a 300sqm store presenting the complete Lacoste world of products including footwear, fashion, handbags and sunglasses as well as fragrances and an entire children’s range. The store will introduce to South African Youth the dynamic Lacoste Live products and ranges.

Paul & Shark

The Surtee Group will also be showcasing Italian luxury fashion brand Paul & Shark in its own 120sqm store. Previously the brand was available at Surtee Group’s Levinson’s. The shop itself has been created inNaples,Italyand will be shipped intoSouth Africain time for the November opening. This is a replica of the Paul & Shark’s store inMilan, arguably the fashion centre ofItaly.

Guess Accessory Store

The Busby Group, which currently has 13 shops in the centre, will be adding to its repertoire a whole new exciting Guess accessory store. The Guess Accessory store will tantalisingly display an assortment of high-fashion Guess jewellery, handbags, eyewear, fragrances, watches and footwear. There is much anticipation of the designer-chic interior.

Lacroix and Nina Ricci 

The Levison’s retail group will be introducing new lines to their already chic store.  These include the highly sort after Nina Ricci and Lacroix labels.


Said to be the avant-garde face of Hugo Boss – Hugo will open its first South African store with product lines particularly focused on men although there is a range of women’s products.

…and there’s more

Throw in Lulu Belle, Thomas Sabo, Lorna Jane, Drifters, Ordning and Reda, G-Star, Crossover, Shesha, Kitchen Passion , Kingsley Heath, Superdri, Sack’s, Maska, Fossil, Aeronautica, Addidas, Superga, Canterbury, Simply Manas, le Creuset as well as Tiger of Sweden and one is left gasping.

SandtonCity seems to have become the queen bee and all the worlds’ brands want a spot in the hive.  “The expansion ofSandtonCity adds an increased breadth of range for shoppers. The new variety and sheer size of the shopping centre will serve to draw more feet to the centre and grow overall revenue,” said one retailer.

With the introduction of the Gautrain and the proximity of the new Sandton Gautrain stationSandtonCity’s scope has broadened even further than before. Also the work done by the centre’s management, listening carefully to shoppers, on creating a customer friendly environment, adds charm to the bling of a glittering new crown of world-class status brands.

Christmas atSandtonCityis going to quite the glittering affair.

SandtonCity– in the news for all the right reasons.

When you’re getting it right the heads are up and it’s not just about size, and yes folks sometimes size does matter!

 Expanding the family

In November this yearSandtonCitywill expand by 30 000 square meters to 215 000 square meters, 144 000 being retail space.  Edgars is being upgraded as the flag ship store for Edcon to 12 000 square meters.  Edcon’s Jet Store is being reintroduced to the centre as well.

Truworths, the Foschini Group and Mr Price have acknowledged thatSandtonCity’s extension will be vital to their own growth plans. The Foshini group is doubling its trading area to 1,900 square metres. It will also be expanding American Swiss Jewellers, Markhams and adding a Donna Claire store to the line-up.

Throw in another 58 retailers and by year endSandtonCitywill have mushroomed like never before. Reinventing itself again, keeping its image fresh and exciting. The Bread Basket, Billabong, Nicci, Cameraland, Hydraulics, Marion & Lindie and Chefs n’ Icers are all recently revealing slick and sexy new store concepts and designs.

 Attracting the Glitterati.

Then just when you thought it couldn’t get better, adding to the already nearly 300 local brands represented, Sharon Swain, Centre Manager, announced that there would be an influx of international names too: Polish makeup house Inglot; Brazilian footwear brand Dumond, Italian clothing designer Carlo Pignatelli, Portuguese menswear designer Miguel Vieira and Kurt Geiger from New York. “Each of these retailers boasts a unique premium offering and their arrival brings the best of international trends to our local market.” Declared Swain.


You may well ask who’s behind all this. “The expansion ofSandtonCityis strongly retailer-driven. We’ve worked closely with our national tenants to bring the very latest and best retail concepts and designs to shoppers,” said Julie Hillary, general manager Sandton region, for Liberty Properties.  The redevelopment is being undertaken by Liberty Properties on behalf of owners The Liberty Group, which owns 75% and Pareto Ltd, which owns 25%.

 Going Green

The headlines continued in August with the announcement thatSandtonCity’s landmark expansion is being capped with a South African first: an environmentally-friendly climate envelope roof. Yes it’s true,SandtonCityis going Green. TheProtea Courtroof has been created with a product called Texlon.

Texlon is an innovative Green technology used worldwide and is being used for the first time inSouth AfricaatSandtonCity. The reason for its selection as a roofing material is its lightweight and environmentally-friendly climatic envelope. It is highly energy efficient, comprises of environmentally-friendly technology.

 Showing some love

But it’s not just about glitz, glamour and Green. Showing its intentions back in March when Earth Hour was celebrated,SandtonCityrevealed its warmer side when in conjunction with Mr Price Home 150 quality fleece blankets were donated to the children ofAlexandraTownshipas part of the Corporate Social Initiative programme.

The recipients were the Banakekeleni and Abangani E Nkosini homes caring for orphans and the elderly. In addition as part of the annual Sandton City CSI programme, a pledge was made to supply these homes with essential hampers during the course of the year to assist with the meeting of basic daily needs.

The future looks bright for a shopping centre that’s puts its money where its mouth is as a national retail icon, mindful of the environment and the greater good of the surrounding community. The world is  watching you SandtonCity.