George Mayor Charles Standers turned the first sod for the R300-million Eden Meander Lifestyle Centre on Friday, welcoming the economic injection into the city.
Inset: Mayor Charles Standers does the honour of turning the first sod for the Eden Meander Lifestyle Centre. From the left are Alex Rymaszewski (Mass Build), Tibo Terblanche (developer), Gerrie Croné (developer), Jannie Joubert (JC Joubert Builders), Cllr Jacoba Muller, Deputy Mayor Daniël Maritz, and Cllrs Johan Stander, Iona Kritzinger, Henry Jones and Jurie Bezuidenhout (Photo: George Herald).
The event marks a move towards a new season in shopping experiences in the Southern Cape, with large retailers establishing branches here. Those always complaining about a lack of entertainment, can also look forward to the opening of an ice-rink and an amphitheatre for staging concerts, shows and other events.
The first phase of the mega development is a 7 500m² building for Builders' Warehouse, which forms part of the Mass Mart group. It is due to open on 21 March next year.
According to Loot Steyn, a member of the developing company, Laritza Investments, the balance of the centre covers 35 000m² and is due to open in September 2014.
The initial figure for the development was R600-m, but Steyn said the development they are currently rolling out amounts to between R300-m and R400-m. There is more land available, but further expansion will depend on the prevailing economic conditions in the future.
Eden Meander will accommodate a total of 40 shops. In addition to large retailers such as Pick n Pay Clothing, Plastic Warehouse, Sportsman's Warehouse, Checkers, House & Home and an 'auto boutique', there will also be restaurants, coffee shops and a large children's play area. "We are focusing on lifestyle activities rather than fashion, which is more in the line of the Garden Route Mall," said Steyn.
The developers estimate that between 1 100 and 1 300 permanent jobs will be created.
JC Joubert Builders' project manager, Nelius du Plessis said during construction they will have up to 250 workers on site at times. "Local contractors and workers are appointed and many of these people will receive training through Africa Skills Development in Thembalethu. About 70% of employees will be locals."A project liaison officer on site will be compiling a database of job applicants.
The mayor said George is privileged to receive an economic injection of this kind in the current economic climate. "Eden Meander will impact positively on the city's economic growth. The shops will be aimed at serving the entire region, meaning that customers will be travelling from other towns to spend their disposable income in George."
He said that in recent research on the economic potential of towns, George came out tops in the country as having the best potential for further growth. This development proves that the developers have confidence in the city's potential.
Tibo Terblanche, one of the developers, commented that George is one of the most progressive cities in assisting them to develop.
Eden Meander borders on the Blue Mountain retirement village opposite the Garden Route Mall.
Contractors on site after the soil-turning for Eden Meander, from left, Attie Bedeker (Worley Parsons), Tibo Terblanche, Alex Rymaszewski (Mass Build), George Mayor Charles Standers, Russel Blane (Mass Build), Jannie Joubert (JC Joubert Builders), Nelius du Plessis (JC Joubert Builders), Charles Mgwagwa (LPA Architects), Mick Passoni (LPA Architects) and Keith Whitfield (Quad Africa). The beginnings of the Builders' Warehouse building is in the background.
By Alida De Beer