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Friday Sep 26, 2014

Mellville shipping container shopping centre gets go-ahead

The new container shopping centre in Melville is set to become a reality after the city approved the site development plan.

What was Faan Smit Park is to become 27boxes, a design and retail centre in the middle of Melville.

The development, in the Faan Smit Park west of 7th Street, will become South Africa's first shopping centre made of shipping containers.

The park will be known as 27boxes. Its design is planned to reflect the vibrant, trendy and somewhat bohemian character that made Melville famous, transforming it into a shopping centre and parkland.

The development will provide 200 parking bays.

'Affordable shopping space is geared for the needs of small entrepreneurs, artists, creative people and food lovers. We hope 27boxes will provide an ideal environment to attract shoppers and encourage visitors to linger and enjoy what's on offer from the eclectic mix of tenants,' said the developer, Citiq chief executive Paul Lapham.

The shopping centre will have art galleries and studios, a couturier, a bakery, microbrewery, furniture manufacturer, a restaurant, a coffee shop, a boutique garden centre, a children's playground, and an amphitheatre. The monthly rental on a container shop will be from R1 600. Pop-up shops will be available for periods of as little as a week.

'Shipping containers have long been associated with popup malls and temporary exhibition stands. They have also provided the basic building block for a number of internationally acclaimed retail developments. Box Park in London, and a retail park in Christchurch, New Zealand, are both examples of what can be achieved with the humble shipping container. We look forward to providing residents and tenants with a shopping experience that will spearhead the revival of Melville,' says Lapham.

However, not all residents are happy. Aimee Nel says she started a private cleaning company in Melville with contributions from residents and businesses, due to the lack of public services.

'Do Arthur Blake (the developer) and Amanda Forsythe (the ward councillor) have any idea how much noise and filth we have to deal with every day of our lives due to the businesses? We have picked up tons of rubbish and rubble in the streets and there is no end in sight. Main Road and 7th Street look like dumps most of the time. There are homeless heroin addicts sleeping on our streets (whom) we cannot get rid of, as they have more rights these days than us taxpayers.

'People are scared to go out at night as Melville is not safe any more. We have shops standing empty, which is in itself a big problem as it is here where the drug dealers gather the most, such as on the corner of 4th and Main, yet they want to give us more shops?' she asked.

Forsythe said the site development plan was considered after extensive discussions and they were satisfied that the applicant addressed all matters raised by the officials. Confirmation was also received from the Johannesburg Roads Agency through its traffic impact study, and the Provincial Heritage Resources Authority of Gauteng, that all processes were complied with and approval was granted.

'All representations made by interested parties and representatives of the community were also considered and meetings were held with these representatives, as well as with the Johannesburg Property Company and Land Use Management on the matter,' she said.

The site was rezoned during a process that commenced in 2000 and approval was granted in 2004 after a tribunal hearing during which all objectors were given an opportunity to provide input. Faan Smit is no longer classified as a park.

It was transferred from City Parks to the JPC in the late 1990s and put out to tender. This followed many complaints from the Melville community.

Forsythe said members of the community did not use the park. This was one of the main reasons it had been taken over by 'undesirables'.

'Most of the development will take place on what was once tennis courts. And the green space should, for the most part, remain green space. Plans we have seen include a children's play area and an open amphitheatre, which could be used for public meetings and concerts,' she said.

The Star


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