THE multimillion-rand upgrade of the Walmer Park Shopping Centre in Port Elizabeth is on track to be completed before the festive season.
The R100-million investment will see major underground parking extensions and additional retail space – which is expected to attract a world-class fashion retailer – and will be the fifth expansion since the centre opened 25 years ago.
The last upgrade was completed in November 2010 and saw the centre add 4000m² of retail space, bringing the total size to 40000m² – more than doubling in size since first opening.
When the shopping haven opened its doors in 1988 it was only about 18000m².
The expansion area has not been finalised, but the first of three phases will add 1000m² of retail space.
Ground breaking officially took place last month and work started in the front and back areas of the mall, tearing through the parking at the Edgars entrance of the centre as well as the tenants' parking area.
The first phase of the project will include the expansion of the Edgars wing of the mall and will include the addition of one of the world's largest fashion retailers.
Walmer Park Centre portfolio manager Leonie Scheepers could not divulge the name of the new tenant yet, but said it would be the first store of its kind in the Eastern Cape.
The project will also include the construction of a bigger basement parking area, more ground- level parking and new mall entrances. "The Edgars entrance will unfortunately be closed, with no access or exit until November," Scheepers said.
"The construction will also affect the ring road and access to the front of the building, which will be restricted from the 15th Avenue entrance to the shopping centre."
Much of the construction will not affect shoppers as it will be behind temporary walls.
The upgrade will also see some of the current tenants move to new locations, including Clicks, which will move to the Edgars side of the mall.
The offices of the centre's management are also temporarily affected by the expansion and are occupying space in the basement parking.
Once the first phase of the construction is completed the centre management suites will move back to the area they originally occupied.