The groundbreaking R1.4 billion Ballito Junction regional shopping centre development, being led by the Menlyn Maine and Flanagan & Gerard consortium, has been given the go-ahead by the local KwaDukuza Municipality.

The municipality yesterday (04 March 2015) approved the Site Development Plan (SDP) for the 65,000m2 mega mall project in the booming KwaZulu-Natal North Coast town. KwaDukuza Municipality’s green light on the project will see the existing mall being extended by more than six times its current size into a world-class regional shopping destination at the entrance to Ballito.

Menlyn Maine Director, Carl Jankowitz, welcomed the announcement saying it was a significant milestone for the development – one the biggest property investments currently in the area.

“The KwaDukuza Municipality recognises our commitment and the value this major investment is going to have on the region. It is going to take the shopping, entertainment and leisure offering in the North Coast region to a whole new level, with the new mega mall set to become the hotspot in Ballito both for locals and tourists,” says Jankowitz.

“Getting the green light means we can commence with the re-development of Ballito Junction into the dominant regional shopping centre on the KZN North Coast. This exciting development will see the existing 10,000m2 centre being overhauled and extended to 65,000m2,” adds Patrick Flanagan, Executive Director of Flanagan & Gerard Property Development and Investment.

Noted Gauteng-based property developers and investors, the Menlyn Maine and Flanagan & Gerard Consortium, acquired the Ballito Junction site and surrounding 10ha undeveloped prime property from ABSA Bank. The consortium officially took transfer of the property in November last year (2014).

“The new, significantly larger and more striking Ballito Junction regional shopping centre is being developed to meet the retail and leisure needs of a growing and affluent market on the KZN North Coast,” comments Flanagan.

“It will boast a considerable entertainment and leisure component, anchored by a Nu Metro cinema complex and trendy restaurants. This, together with a world-class retail mix of top SA and international fashion outlets and major department stores, will set the new Ballito Junction apart in the region,” he adds.

Jankowitz comments: “At R1.4 billion, this is a massive investment not just in Ballito but KZN. While our initial investment will take the mall to 65,000m2, development rights that exist on the site allow for the centre to be further expanded to 90,000m2 – that’s “super-regional” shopping centre status.”

Construction on Ballito Junction, which is located on a prime site at the entrance of Ballito, between the busy N2 and M4 highways, is anticipated to take about 24 months. The new mall is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2017.

The KZN North Coast region is regarded by many as one of the most significant urban growth areas in South Africa, having been bolstered by the relocation of the Durban airport. Boomtown Ballito is just 10km away from King Shaka International Airport and the Dube TradePort development.

“Ballito is no longer a sleepy seaside town. With developments like the Zimbali Resort and Simbithi Eco Estate, it has now become a major regional node and caters for an expanding leisure and vacation market. It has also established itself as a key commuter town with a rapidly expanding permanent population,” says Jankowitz.

Ballito is now primed to get its very own mega mall, with the closest regional mall to the town currently being the Gateway shopping centre in uMhlanga, more than 30km away. The new Ballito Junction will be home to the town’s first cinema complex, in addition to boasting great family entertainment, a hugely expanded fashion offering for the region and an exciting mix of food outlets.

“The exceptional location of the site and its views to the east over the Indian Ocean will see a number of restaurants offering al fresco dining with sea views. As part of the overhaul and expansion, the mall will be developed over three-levels and offer generous parking over five levels (four underground). It will also have a service level underneath the entire building to ensure its efficient operation is optimised,” says Flanagan.

“The existing centre will continue to trade, largely unaffected by construction activities. However, the centre will undergo a degree of modernisation, so as to tie in to the expansion. Current anchor tenant Pick n Pay will be expanded, and other existing tenants like Dis-Chem, will be joined by an array of department stores and international and national fashion brands,” he adds.

Illustrating demand and how upbeat national and international retailers are about the development, Flanagan says more than 80% of the space is already let.

“It’s more than two years before the new Ballito Junction regional mall is scheduled to open, and we have already secured several major retail brands. Woolworths, Game, Edgars, Foschini, Truworths, Jet, Queenspark, Markham, Identity, Total Sports, Clicks, Incredible Connection, Cape Union Mart and Coricraft are amongst the retailers already signed up to join Pick n Pay and Dis-Chem at Ballito Junction,” he says.

“On the entertainment and eatery side, we’ve secured Nu Metro Cinemas, Spur and Turn ‘n Tender, together with a host of famous fast food brands and restaurants in our food court,” adds Flanagan.

Jankowitz comments: “Ballito Junction is Menlyn Maine’s first major commercial property development in KZN. It is set to become more than a world-class shopping centre, but a destination and entertainment hub for local people and visitors to the town. Ballito Junction is expected to cater for shoppers not only from Ballito, but further afield, including Stanger, Tongaat and Umhlanga.” Menlyn Maine Investments is the developer and investor behind the multi-billion rand Menlyn Maine development precinct in Pretoria, which will house the new Sun International Casino. Flanagan & Gerard is noted as one of South Africa’s foremost shopping centre developers. The two groups will combine their extensive property expertise in the Ballito Junction joint-venture.