Over in the Namibian desert Atterbury is creating a dream shopping destination for the people of Walvis Bay. We caught up with Evert Kleynhans and Stewart Steyn for a progress report on Dunes Mall
The last time we spoke was six months ago, how has construction progressed since then? What is happening on the site at the moment?
Construction on site is progressing well, and we are on schedule to open on 26 October 2017. By the end of this month, the roof structure will be 100 percent complete. The external services and access roads have also commenced and are progressing well.
Have there been any unforeseen challenges that needed to be dealt with?
Building far away from home is always a challenge! One cannot visit the site on a regular basis – every site visit needs to be planned well in advance. Fortunately the main contractor is doing an excellent job on the site. The finishing trades are of concern but will be closely monitored when we get to that stage. Other than that the council of Walvis Bay has been very helpful and are actively involved. It must be the most frequently that I’ve ever seen a building inspector on site!
Walvis with its very corrosive climate requires that all the materials you use be chosen to withstand those harsh conditions. Does the climate impact in any way on the way the development unfolds?
The corrosion has been an interesting factor in our design process. Originally all external steel frames were replaced by timber door frames; this posed a huge security risk for the retailers. We eventually changed to galvanised door frames which all had to be imported from South Africa due to lack of local availability. All generators are also enclosed and not open to the elements.
At what point do you start with landscaping, and what are the landscaping plans for the mall?
The landscaping will be installed only very close to the end of the project and is envisaged to include ample plants suited to the environment with well-designed entertainment areas and mall furniture. Thus far we have already designed and installed the irrigation sleeves, as these had to be installed with the external roads and services. Although the landscaping only follows much later, the infrastructure had to be installed now.
In terms of leasing, how much space is left in the mall? What is the occupancy target for opening in October, and where do you stand at this point?
Leasing is progressing very well so far. We have now secured almost all national retailers from both South Africa and Namibia. We are obviously aiming to be fully let on opening. At the moment we are standing on 81 percent. We are aiming to be 90 percent let by end March.
What other tenants have been signed in the last 6 months? How many shops in total will there be in the mall?
Dunes Mall will have a total of 82 shops. Some of the big national groups we have concluded with or are in final negotiations with are PicknPay Super Market, Woolworths, Checkers, Dis-Chem, Clicks, Truworths Group, Foschini Group, Pepkor Group, Cape Union Mart Group, Mr Price Group, Cotton On, House and Home, Incredible Connection, Studio 88, Cross Trainer, Spur, Crazy Store, Torga Optical, Bank Windhoek, Nedbank and FNB.
What feedback are you getting from the Walvis Bay locals – is the mall hotly anticipated?
Yes, they are extremely excited about the mall. There is currently no mall in Walvis Bay or the surrounding areas that will compare to our Dunes Mall; so people as far as Swakopmund are expected to visit to experience great shopping here.