A vibrant central business district (CBD) is shaping up around the Stretford Station in Orange Farm which is soon to be blessed with a R400m shopping centre, the Eyethu Orange Farm Mall.
Construction of the 27,000sqm regional shopping mall began in July this year and the development is set to be launched in September 2014. It promises to change the economic fortunes of the area and its surroundings.
The Eyethu Orange Farm Mall is expected to generate around 3000 jobs when it opens. The mall’s construction phase is creating over 2000 jobs.
The Eyethu Orange Farm Mall can be seen as a part of wave of new retail developments springing all over in previously marginalised communities. Rising incomes in black communities has seen developers flocking in to come up with developments like the Maponya Mall in Soweto.
The calibre of investors in some of these new developments is interesting in itself. The phenomena of outsiders who flock in via a crusade type approach has been diluted.
In the case of the Eyethu Orange Farm Mall the investment has a strong Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) angle. Anchor investors/developers, each with 30% stake, are Stretford Land Developments, Flanagan & Gerard Investments, and JSE listed property company Dipula Income Fund. Dipula is an operation with impeccable empowerment credentials featuring prominent property people like Saul Gumede and Izak Peterson.
The Eyethu Orange Farm Mall also features 10% interest by the Orange Farm community. This was facilitated by the National Empowerment (NEF) Fund’s Rural & Community Development Fund unit.
Developers say the project is advancing well and proving its sustainability and commercial attraction via the interest shown by national retailers. “With an appealing mix of successful retailers guaranteed and construction progressing apace, the vision for the R400 million Eyethu Orange Farm Mall to become a successful, profitable asset for the community of Orange Farm is within reach”.
The regional shopping mall, said the developers, as located midway between Johannesburg and Vereeniging is ideally placed. It is beside, and links into, Stretford Station, forming part of the new Town Square at the heart of a new vibrant central business district for Orange Farm.
Flanagan & Gerard executive director Peter Gerard said “Strong retailer support is an important ingredient in the unique success of Eyethu Orange Farm Mall. As early as 2008 several key retailers committed to the project and the mall is still enjoying enthusiastic leasing take-up.”
Gerard added that Eyethu Orange Farm will offer a comprehensive mix of retailers and the critical mass to satisfy local customers and the seven million rail commuters using Stretford Station each year.
Gerard said the retail development was already 90% let, a full year before it opens. The development will be anchored by Shoprite and Pick n Pay and includes a large Roots Butchery.
Chris Mawhinney, General Manager, Pick n Pay Supermarkets, Gauteng said “Eyethu Orange Farm Mall gives Pick n Pay the opportunity to expand our presence in the area and bring our stores closer to the people, giving them what they want, where they want it. This will be a franchise operation and will add another black-owned store to our current franchise stable”.
The developers added that “Important banking services will be delivered to the community from ABSA, First National Bank, African Bank, Capitec, Nedbank, Standard Bank and Old Mutual”.
Clothing retailers who have taken space include Foschini, Edgars, Truworths, Identity, Markham, Total Sports, Exact!, Legit, Fashion Express, Pep, Skipper Bar, Mr Price, Ackermans, Studio 88 and Jet.
The development will also have some 50 lock-up informal trader stalls placed around the taxi rank by the City of Joburg. The Small Enterprise Finance Agency will also be underwriting around 30 SMME’s in a new collective retail initiative for the mall.