Investec Property’s Cornubia Mall development is located on Umhlanga’s rolling sugar cane fields across from Mount Edgecombe, previously owned by South Africa’s major sugar producer Tongaat Hulett. The landholder released 3.5million square metres of bulk for the KwaZulu-Natal market permitting mixed industrial, residential and commercial usage. Investec Property jumped at the chance to get involved with the Cornubia Mall. The strength of Cornubia Mall’s location is one of the fundamental reasons Investec Property head Darryl Mayers is confident it will be such a success.
“It is the first time we’ve ever speculated on a landsite of that scale, but we were so confident in the site’s location, the road network planned for the area and the size of the catchment market which we felt was not adequately catered for in value and convenience,” explains Mayers.
The 85,000-square metre complex will offer a selection of food, fashion, lifestyle and sports attractions integrated into an outdoor family-oriented shopping experience. The development’s unique design as an inward-facing, spherical, strip mall with two major tenants flanking the opening, the Virgin Active health club and the Woolworths shop, giving an inviting boulevard feeling to the entrance. A number of other national retailers have committed to taking space at Cornubia Mall already including: Dis-Chem, Pepkor, Edcon, Pick n Pay, Clicks, Nu Metro, Checkers, Truworths, Bakos Brothers, The Spur Group, Outdoor Warehouse and McDonalds.
The two national pharmaceutical companies, Dis-Chem and Clicks, anchor opposite sides of the mall, there is the conventional fashion offering with a number of women and men’s clothing and apparel shops, fast food and family restaurants will be available on-site and Investec Property is also introducing a massive lifestyle element to the mall. There will be the Virgin Active gym, a 3300-square metre Bounce trampoline park, the first Cycle Lab megastore at 2,000 square metres, outdoor 5-a-side soccer pitches and a 7-screen 4D Nu Metro.
“Everything is about experience now, it’s about increasing and enhancing the customer dwell time, it’s not about the traditional shopping mall. Ultimately our objective is to get into the heart of this community. This will become a place where people come to shop, relax, exercise and enjoy themselves. There is something for everyone at Cornubia Mall.” stresses Mayers.
While the shopping experience on offer will be second to none in terms of combining convenience and variety, it is Cornubia Mall’s location and accessibility which will set it apart in the region.
The nearest mall to Cornubia is the huge Gateway Mall on Umhlanga Ridge, although Mayers is confident it will not be a direct competitor thanks to the design and application of Investec’ Property’s development. Investec Property’s philosophy is simple, if you’re going to be in retail you either need to be dominant or you need to be niched, Cornubia Mall will serve the niche or convenience market.
The design of the building perfectly positions it at the junction of a newly-built road network, which will provide ‘unbelievable’ access for customers according to Mayers. The mall is serviced by the N2 and M41 major highways and will tap into the natural footfall of nearly a million homes from the nearby neighbourhoods of Phoenix, Verulam, Ottawa, Woodview and Mount Edgcombe.
Mayers says the potential shoppers from these areas will create a highly consumptive market and the residents will have to drive directly past the site in order access the Durban major road network, another reflection of the strength of Cornubia Mall’s location.
However, the road access would be nothing without ample parking to accommodate shoppers, again this has been designed with convenience in mind. There are 1,600 free on-grade parking bays, as well as 1,600 basement level parking bays for Durban’s rainy season.
“We didn’t want to create a mall which was labelled as a value centre but we identified there was a dire need to tap into something that had great access and visibility without having the pitfalls of the traditional super regionals where you need basement parking which is not that convenient,” explains Mayers.
“From a design point of view we have created something which is completely unique. Ultimately we are providing a convenience mall in a regional size and that is something that has never been done.”
In addition to the accessibility and location of the mall Mayers believes the real differentiator for Cornubia Mall is the ease and variety of shops and activities on offer. He says Investec Property has created something which in time will be enhanced by the attractions that go with the shopping elements and the fact they have taken away the ‘hassle factor’ of basement parking.
“We differentiate with access, visibility, the configuration of the supermarkets being on grade and the massive entertainment and health offerings,” observes Mayers.
“The mall is the shape of a sphere. You access the middle and you can park on the left or the right and the distance between the two ends is only about 550m so it is walkable. The designers said there has never been anything like this before.
“This is a single-level of 65,000 square metres and there is the opportunity for expansion of another 20,000 square metre below. But it’s been designed in a way that you can access that level directly from the road, the building is on a slope so you can drive straight from the road onto that mezzanine level.”
The mall is currently under construction and it is expected to be completed by September 2017. The mall is 85% let through a mix of large and small tenants and Mayers sees filling the remaining 15% as the main challenge between now and July. For the construction phase Investec Property is working very closely with the main contractors and project managers Wilson Baley Holmes (WBHO), a highly regarded South African construction firm.
While WHBO is leading the construction Investec Property is taking a very hands-on approach and has a devoted development team for each of its invested properties.
“We have a very good handle on where the project should be, we interrogate the programme, we provide the brief and identify the pressure points. Investec prides itself on this – we have an expert in retail from an architectural point of view and we have an implementation specialist who can drive the project,” highlights Mayers.
The final piece of the puzzle for Investec Property will be how it markets the Cornubia Mall so local residents and potential shoppers understand that while it may be the size of a regional supermall it can be accessed with convenience and contains all the shopping offering and more.
“We want to become the heart of the surrounding communities where we can add value in more ways than you could dream of,” notes Mayers.