How Shopping Complexes are transforming Cities and Towns in Kenya and South Africa

Sandton City and Downtown Johannesburg (South Africa) | Two Rivers Complex, Ruaka and Nairobi(Kenya)

Case Study 1: Sandton City, Sandton & Johannesburg


Sandton(Old & New)

Sandton is an affluent area situated within the metro of Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa. The name comes from the combination of two of its suburbs, Sandown and Bryanston. In 1969 Sandton was promulgated as a municipality in its own right, but lost its status as an independent town after the re-organization of South African local governments.

Urban decay in downtown Johannesburg caused many corporate offices to move from Johannesburg Central Business District to Sandton in the 1990s. It has become the new financial district of South Africa and Johannesburg’s premier business center. Much of the financial focus of Johannesburg has shifted from the Central Business District to Sandton. However, three of South Africa’s four largest banks have kept their head offices in downtown Johannesburg, along with Transnet, the transport parastatal. The other bank, Nedbank, has its headquarters in Sandton.

A lot of the “new money” has moved north to Sandton, including investment banks, financial consultants and the like. A considerable amount of the city’s A-grade office space is to be found in Sandton. The JSE Securities Exchange, Johannesburg’s stock exchange, relocated its offices to Sandton from the central business district in the late 1990s. Sandton’s gain was the central business district’s loss: it resulted from urban blight of the downtown Johannesburg area.

Sandton is home to the Sandton Convention Centre, one of the largest convention centers on the continent. Massmart has its head office in the Massmart House in Sandton. IBM’s and HP’s main Southern Africa and South Africa offices are in Sandhurst and Rivonia respectively. In 2013, petrochemical giant Sasol announced the development of their new headquarters in Wierda Valley, Sandton.

The Sandton Central commercial node, centered on the suburbs of Sandown and Sandhurst has some of the best and most expensive commercial properties and offices in South Africa. A number of new developments are underway including 6 Benmore (Capital Hill), Atrium on 5th, Alice Lane and Katherine and West which is situated directly opposite the Sandton Gautrain Station. One of the highest rated Green buildings in South Africa, the Upper Grayston Office Park, is located in Sandton.

Industrial areas within Sandton are Wynberg and KramerVille. Kramerville, once a run-down area, is now a trendy area and is the center of the design and textiles industry in Sandton.

One of the main attractions in Sandton is Sandton City which ranks among the largest shopping centers in Africa. Together with Nelson Mandela Square, the center, with some 144,000 m2 of shopping space, is one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere (behind Chadstone Shopping Centre). Much of Johannesburg’s business tourism is centered on Sandton, which has a string of 5-star hotels.

It was recently announced by Liberty Properties that Sandton City will receive a R1,77-billion upgrade. Liberty Properties chief executive Samuel Ogbu has envisaged the complex as South Africa’s very own Wall Street “Africa is not for sissies, but we have a bold vision, which is to see the Sandton City precinct as our own Wall Street.” The redevelopment will include the construction of a 60-storey office tower, a new hotel, new retail and office space and residential apartments. The 60-storey office tower will be the tallest building in Africa, replacing the Carlton Centre in Johannesburg CBD. The extension will stretch to 30 000 m2 and the total complex will have a gross lettable area of 158 000 m2. London-based RTKL Associates have been chosen to design the complex.

Nelson Mandela Square, formerly known as Sandton Square, was renamed in March 2004, after the unveiling of a 6-metre bronze statue of the former South African president. Perhaps ironically, Liliesleaft Farm, where Nelson Mandela lived in the early 1960s and where many leading political activists were arrested in 1963 and tried as part of the now infamous Rivonia Trial, is just north of Nelson Mandela Square, close to the N1 Highway, off Rivonia Road.

In 2007, CNBC Africa launched its headquarters for Africa, based in Sandton. From here the channel broadcasts to 41 countries on the continent with remote studios at the JSE and a fixed camera at the Nedbank head office, in Rivonia road.

The Sandton Convention Centre hosted the 2008 Miss World Final on 13 December 2008, as a replacement for Kiev, Ukraine. Maude Street adjacent to Sandton Convention Centre

The Sandton area is one of the most opulent in Johannesburg and South Africa, and therefore in Africa.

Due to the shortage of available land, the trend in new developments is to go skyward. This is evidenced by the new 140-metre-tall Michelangelo Towers, which purports to offer Manhattan-style living in Johannesburg. The new apartment block will be the fourth-tallest building in Johannesburg and a local newspaper, reports that the top-selling penthouse apartment was sold for R28 million (around $4 million).Google South Africa is headquartered in Bryanston.

The central business area of Sandton is divided into three city improvement districts, which have a unified identity called the Sandton central management districts, branded as Sandton Central. This district is responsible, using additional funds levied on its behalf by the municipality, for the provision of additional services. The Sandton Central Management district provides additional cleaning, law enforcement, beautification and planning services to the area it services.

By far the most prevalent form of public transportation in the area is provided by minibus taxis. The main taxi rank is to be found on West Street. Although not as popular an option as is the case in other major cities, metered taxis can be used to commute to and around Sandton.

Sandton houses the flagship station of the Gautrain rapid rail link. The station is located on the corner of West Street and Rivonia Road. The system has direct connections to OR Tambo International Airport and an inter-city commuter service from Pretoria through Rosebank to Park Station, Johannesburg.

Case Study 2: Two Rivers Complex, Ruaka(Kiambu County,Kenya)

Below are two artist’s impressions of the future of Two Rivers Complex

Pictures of Two Rivers Currently Under construction

The Two Rivers Complex development is located within the Nairobi’s diplomatic blue zone and is less than a 10 minutes’ drive from the UN Complex, the US Embassy and the Canadian Embassy.

The Two Rivers Mall is part of a mixed-use real estate development that is being undertaken by Centum Group on a 102-acre parcel of land that was acquired from the Koinange family in a transaction estimated to be at least Sh1 billion. The mall has 190 tenants.

Centum has already announced that Aviation Industry Corporation of China (Avic), the main contractor for project, had invested Sh6.4 billion in Two Rivers for a 38.9 per cent stake — valuing the project at about Sh16.6 billion. “The investment by Avic is particularly noteworthy being one of the largest foreign direct investments in this region by a Chinese corporation into a private enterprise,” Centum said.

Centum also disclosed that state-owned investment firm ICDC, which also holds a 23 per cent stake in Centum, had made a Sh462.5 million equity investment while Co-operative Bank had contributed Sh7.2 billion in debt funding for the project. The Two Rivers Mall consists of medium density residential homes, a five-star hotel, office blocks and a shopping center.

The project, which is managed by Athena Properties Ltd., will be compliant with international green standards, featuring luxurious residential apartments and low-rise office blocks being built by the China National Aero-Technology International Engineering Corporation (CATIC) and local sub-contractors.

In May last year, the firm disclosed that Paris-based Carrefour, the world’s second largest retailer after Walmart, had booked 10,000 square-feet at the Two Rivers.Runda is set to become home of Kenya and East Africa’s biggest shopping mall. The concrete wonder dubbed Two Rivers will be at the heart of the affluent Runda, Gigiri, Muthaiga and Nyari neighborhoods.

The entire complex, which will also include a 5-star hotel, residential apartments and an office park, will be located on a 100-acre piece of land, a few minutes from the UN complex and several embassies.

The whole project is estimated to cost around Sh60 billion. Of the 62,000 square meters of GLA retail tenants, just under 50% are international clients including international supermarket chain, Carrefour hypermarket on 10,000 sqm as the anchor tenant. This will be the second Carrefour in Africa and the first in the region.

The Two Rivers Lifestyle Centre is 50% let by Value; Construction is at the sub structure stage. Two rivers Complex is owned by Centum Investment where Chris Kirubi is the majority shareholder.

Six Steps Two Rivers Complex can develop into the future City for Kiambu County and the Financial capital of Kenya and the East Africa Region

1.An Ultramodern Complex with the basic infrastructure allocated i.e. Water and Electricity (12MW plant, solar power generation, use of Ndakaini/Suswa Dams). Distribution lines are established, roads built into gated communities around like Nyari, Gigiri, Runda etc. with future allocation for areas/sections for mass transit i.e. light rail, tram or even Hyperloop Transportation.

2.With Basic Infrastructure in place, Retailers (Carrefour etc.) can move in and attract shoppers from Nairobi, Ruaka, Kiambu, Thika, Kikuyu areas. With more Shoppers come more shops taking up spaces. Businesses of all kinds like SME’s, law firms, banks etc. move into prebuilt office spaces in the complex. This, in turn, makes this complex has one stop shop areas for work, play, recreation for urban dwellers in and around it.

3.With the complex occupying a wider area of space having all the businesses, firms, banks, ME’s etc. Government offices from both County and National Government move in and occupy prebuilt, customized office spaces in order to provide services e.g. huduma centers, county assembly, police headquarters etc.

4.Increased ease of doing business, convenience and presence of important businesses can make the Stock Exchange move from Westland’s, Nairobi to the complex in a bid to allow trading of stocks and easier IPO listings by firms, businesses, SME’s and banks in the complex and surrounding areas.

5.Increased size of the complex necessitates use of new technologies and means of conveniently moving people and goods from one side of the complex to another. Like use of dedicated lanes, elevators, ground escalators, Shuttle Buses and modern light rail or future hyperloops/underground trains.

6.With the preset standards, rules, building quality, ultramodern designs and practices. The complex evolves into a new Central Business district/financial center and heart of a new town or city. This might necessitate the move of the county government of Kiambu County to move its headquarters from Kiambu to the Complex and formation of a city state where the County Government in partnership with the Two Rivers Development Company administer all aspects of the newly formed city.

All this can and will happen if Political factors remain conducive and the project gets adequate financing and construction in order to attains its main vision to transform Ruaka Town and its surroundings into a new metropolis.

Consequences for Nairobi City

Currently Nairobi city and its surrounding county is suffering from many problems, mainly the city’s infrastructure is crumbling, there are prevalent shortages and outages of water and electricity supply, a horrible public transport system with no existing mass transit system, Poor lighting and garbage collection services, filthy streets with old dilapidated buildings and crowded streets.

All this has resulted in massive traffic congestion and a city built for cars instead of people with colonial era infrastructure. The CBD is crumbing or should I say, dying a slow death. Most of the big businesses are moving outside the city to Suburbs like Westlands, Kileleshwa, Hurlingham, Lavington and Upper hill areas.

Thus Nairobi County Government needs to take action now to safeguard its future as the financial hub of East Africa. This means Rejuvenating the CBD through massive redevelopments of the inner part of the city, change in transport priorities and managements, restructuring the entire county government structure and abstraction of city development from city govt bodies through use of central management districts. Lastly the city Govt needs to start in massive investments on city infrastructure and transportation i.e. redefining streets, pavements, transport corridors, underground rail, mass transit buses, reforms in streaming licensing and fees using new technology. If this is not done, the city will slowly lose its relevance and importance in the coming decades.

Credit:Two Rivers Project

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