KZN biggest retail refurbishment

KZN biggest retail refurbishment

Aerial view of Gateway Theatre of Shopping, which has recently been refurbished.

When extensive renovations were planned for uMhlanga’s popular shopping centre, Gateway Theatre of Shopping, it was acknowledged that this would be a significant undertaking.

Undoubtedly it was to be one of the largest alterations, additions, and refurbishments of an active shopping centre in South Africa and certainly the largest ever in Kwa-Zulu Natal. The owner, Old Mutual Properties, appointed Profica to provide principal-agent, project management, and tenant coordination services on the project. Profica has worked with OMP on numerous occasions, including an appointment on the major development of its head office in Sandton.

Peter Ferraz, associate director at Profica involved in the Gateway project says: “This was a huge undertaking due to its size and the extensive work that would be done in a live environment, as it would be business as usual for shoppers and retailers. In these instances, safety and containment are a priority.”

OMP’s objective for the project was to create additional retail areas by adding new space and re-organising and repurposing existing space. To maintain the grand and open ambience for which the Gateway Theatre of Shopping is renowned, the mall’s public space was to be increased in such a way as to ensure the new expansion works did not distract from this appeal.

There was also to be a refresh of Gateway’s look and feel by modernising various internal and external elements of the building. Additional parking bays and taxi rank space were also developed.

Ferraz says there were various challenges with the project, which involved numerous stakeholders whose expectations and involvement had to be carefully managed.

“Most of the stakeholders had never been involved in a project as large or as complex as this, which meant that our team needed to reassure them of the process and maintain consistent communication throughout to alleviate any anxieties.

“A particularly critical aspect of stakeholder management was to manage the often-conflicting priorities of the retailers, the centre management, the construction activities, and the public – while maintaining progress.”

Another challenge was having to coordinate the designs of several architectural and engineering disciplines, necessary due to the complexity of the new scheme and lack of historic documentation.

“Our highest priority was the absolute safety of the public, tenants, and workers, so steps were taken in the design, coordination, and planning, and the implementation of construction works to keep the live shopping centre safe at all times.

“The overall project, completed at the end of 2018, was closely followed by an extension of the Mr Price store which will be finished in September 2019.”

Ferraz says that when completing a significant project like Gateway there is always a huge sigh of relief when it reaches its end.

“There is also a huge sense of accomplishment and pride in having been able to deliver an outcome that is highly satisfactory to the client through a process that was cognisant of all those involved in the project throughout its duration. At Profica we are especially pleased with the final completed design from an aesthetic and engineering perspective which has significantly enhanced the shopper circulation and retail experience.”

Finally, Ferraz commends the various teams participating in the Gateway project who were able to bring together the ‘rolling wave’ design necessitated by changing lease conditions and the many “unknown unknowns” which are inherent in a large 20-year old shopping centre redevelopment.