Presenting the third coming of the Randburg Waterfront
Tekkie Town founder dives in to a neglected old centre
The Brightwater Commons shopping centre, which has struggled to catch on since it was originally built as the Randburg Waterfront just over 20 years ago, is once again being redeveloped as its new owners have a go at making a success of it .
A consortium has now acquired the site and will be building a multi-use development it will launch in phases in 2019.
Ferndale on Republic, a new 53,000m² mixed-use development, will transform Randburg’s shopping landscape, says Pieter Lombaard, CEO of the Moolman Group, which is part of the consortium.
The Moolman Group is responsible for development and leasing for the mixed-use space which will serve 36,000 households in a 3.5km radius. It owns the site and assets that will be built on it, in partnership with the PHG Group and Tekkie Town founder Braam van Huyssteen.
Randburg is no longer able to accommodate an entertainment offering as it cannot compete with the likes of Cresta Shopping Centre and Clearwater Mall to the west, Sandton City and The Mall of Rosebank to the south, and Mall of Africa to the north.
Trendy entertainment features have been added to large shopping centres over the past few years with them having been repositioned as family destinations.
“Families now tend to go to super-regional shopping centres like Mall of Africa, Cresta and Fourways,” says Jay Padayatchi, an executive director at Meago Asset Management.
Roughly 23,000m² of the gross lettable area will be used for a community shopping centre which will open next year. The mall will include a new 3,463m² Pick n Pay which is scheduled to be completed in March next year. Checkers, Dis-Chem, Clicks, Food Lovers Market and Ignite Gym will anchor the newly redeveloped community shopping centre.
The second phase will be a 23,180m² office component. The remainder will be filled by 200 residential units which will be added in a third phase. Lombaard says the development should be finished by September next year.
“We are creating a community shopping experience. Initially the Randburg Waterfront was a niche entertainment product with fireworks and other attractions but trends changed and people moved on. The small niche stores could no longer trade successfully. Our research suggests a community shopping centre is what this part of Randburg needs,” he says.
The Randburg Waterfront was built in 1996 as Johannesburg’s version of Cape Town’s highly successful Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. It included an array of entertainment offerings and mostly small stores and for a few years was a premier event venue.
Lombaard says the initial attraction to a shopping centre with water features became tired at the turn of the century.
The Randburg Waterfront just could not match the V&A which was built around a natural waterfront. It was converted into The Brightwater Commons in 2003 at a cost of R80m by Allan Gray Property Trust. It was the first shopping centre to be built around a grassy common in Johannesburg.
The Brightwater Commons’s biggest problem was accessing its large tenants, which lay at the back of the development, says property economist Erwin Rode
The Allan Gray Property Trust, which was renamed Fountainhead in 2007, was later taken over by Redefine Properties in 2015.
The development was quickly sold thereafter for less than R200m to Van Huyssteen. He sold an undivided share to the Moolman Group and PHG.