South Africans to help build Malawi mall

23 June 2010

An experienced South African team of developers, financiers, professional designers, engineers and contractors are involved in the development of a new US$40-million regional shopping centre – set to feature several South African retail stores – in the Malawian capital of Lilongwe.

The 18 000 square metre development is financed by the Malawi Property Investment Company (MPICO), the National Bank of Malawi and two major financial institutions, while the group of South African experts will manage the development and construction of the project – set to commence at the end of June.

The South African architects on the project are leading SA retail architects, Stauch Vorster, who have in-depth experience in major retail centre design throughout Africa. They are partnered with local architects Kanjere and Associates.

Investment grade finishes

MPICO’s instruction to the development managers, following a detailed market research study, was to create a regional centre, the first in Malawi, with institutional investment grade finishes of a standard comparable with those used in similar centres in South Africa.

“Lilongwe, with a population of more than one million has overtaken Blantyre as the country’s largest city and fastest growing urban region and, being centrally situated, is perfectly positioned to serve as a gateway to the whole of central Africa, including Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe,” MPICO chairman Dye Mawindo said in a statement this week.

“The Gateway (which the mall has been named) is on a prime and highly visible site in an area which is experiencing rapid middle and upper income residential growth,” said Mawindo.

Glazed shop fronts, garden city landscaping

The centre will have a 150m long, 122m wide retail mall into which most of the shops will face. They will have 3m high glazed shop fronts. In addition, there will be skylights which will emphasise the double volume spaces in which the delicately structured truss supports will form a frame for the floating roof which is one of the architectural features.

The outward facing food court faces onto the landscaped car park which will cater for more than 1 100 vehicles providing six bays per 100 square meters. In addition, plans make allowance for a stand-alone petrol station and drive-up food outlet on the south-western corner of the site.

“We are aware that Lilongwe is a garden city and we have therefore ensured that the surrounding area will be landscaped to complement this image,” said Dye Mawindo. “In addition, greening features are being employed throughout, from initial planning through construction and the eventual ongoing management of the completed mall.”

South African retail presence

The centre will accommodate some 80 retail outlets anchored by a major South African national food retailer – reported in the press as Pick n Pay – who will occupy 3 500 square meters in a strategic position within the mall so as to ensure maximum exposure for each of the other tenants.

Many other big brand SA chains will also be taking space, as well a number of banks, service providers and local retailers. The restaurants and fast food outlets comprising the food court will be enhanced by a cinema complex with three cinemas, each with approximately 100 seats.

The design allows for a second phase which will increase the size to 24 000 square meters. The official opening is scheduled for September 2011.

SAinfo reporter

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