R1.7bn boost for new Bay mall

Cindy Preller

BAY West Mall is two giant leaps closer to reality, with financing secured and a construction company already breaking ground on the site of the project along the N2 in Port Elizabeth.

Nedbank announced this week it would provide funding to the tune of R1.7-billion – the largest property development sum ever agreed to by the bank.

Nedbank corporate property finance regional executive Ken Reynolds said the funding had been approved for the first phase of the mall.

“The sheer size of this development deal meant approval had to be made at board level. However, given that Sisa Ngebulana [managing director of the Billion Group] and Jaco Odendaal [chairman of Abacus Asset Management] represent two of South Africa’s most respected and successful property development companies and the obvious potential the mall has to inject sustainable benefits and growth into both the Port Elizabeth and Eastern Cape economy, we knew Nedbank had to be involved,” he said.

This comes as the two co-developers, Abacus Asset Management and Billion Group, announced that Murray & Roberts had been appointed as the primary contractor on the project.

Murray & Roberts buildings managing director Alex Boyazoglu said the company had been on site since last week and was busy with excavations, installing services and finishing off platforms for the mall.

Over the next few weeks at least five tower cranes will be erected to facilitate construction, along with a host of other large plant equipment. A dedicated concrete ready-mix batch plant will also be erected on site.

Bay West City managing director Gavin Blows said he had every confidence in Murray & Roberts, which had a reputation for good workmanship and the capacity to deliver large developments on time.

“We are extremely excited about this project,” said Blows. “Port Elizabeth is one of the last regional retail opportunities available. It is an opportunity to upgrade and upsize the retail experience for … Eastern Cape shoppers. We believe the region is ready and has the capacity to accommodate this new mall and it will be a catalyst to the expansion of the wealthy western suburbs.”

Referring to the development of the Redhouse-Chelsea arterial road, which will run through the site, Blows said the city, SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and the developers had come together to create a new R300-million road network that would accelerate the residential and commercial growth of this part of the metro.

Bay West Mall, which is set to open in early 2015, is expected to generate up to 3000 direct and 7000 indirect job opportunities during construction. A further 1500 permanent jobs will be created for staff of the 250 retail outlets in the 90000m² complex, which will be similar in size to Cape Town’s Canal Walk shopping centre.

The mall has commitments from major retailers and is anchored by Checkers Hyper, Pick n Pay, Woolworths and Game as well as leading fashion and entertainment tenants like Edgars, Truworths, Pepkor and Ster Kinekor.

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