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Monday Apr 30, 2012

Multi-million rand overhaul for V&A shopping centre

The V&A Waterfront is about to start on a R35 million rejuvenation drive that will include an extensive upgrade of the food court area in its flagship shopping centre, the Victoria Wharf.

An artist's impression of the new food court.

"The V&A Waterfront's growing popularity as a family leisure destination underscores the need for the massive overhaul that has been planned for the Victoria Wharf Food Court for some time," says Alex Kabalin, the newly appointed retail executive at the V&A Waterfront.

Central to this development is the structural and interior reconfiguration of the existing convenience food section on the lower level of the Victoria Wharf. The number of fast food outlets will increase by 40 percent and the positioning of stores will be optimised.

"This project will ensure full integration of the Victoria Wharf's dining offering with the overall retail and leisure experience," Kabalin says.

"The existing food court does not fully capitalise on its setting. This refurbishment will now ensure optimal use of space by creating a free flow natural indoor/outdoor communal dining area around a communal location and the children's play area," he explains. "And diners will have spectacular views across the central entertainment hub, working harbour and Table Mountain."

He says creating the right ambience is a major focus of this refurbishment. Each shopping centre has a distinctive character, and there is no "one-size-fits-all" food court design that provides the optimal solution for every venue.

"The planned new space needs to encapsulate the distinctly Cape Town-flavoured point of difference, ensuring that our tenants, visitors and staff continue to experience the tastes, sounds and sights that are synonymous with the V&A Waterfront, at the heart of South Africa's oldest working harbour."

Kabalin says that responding to consumer expectations and adapting a centre accordingly must focus on key aspects such as tenancy mix, adjacencies and appropriate site selection.

"Insights into consumer expectations were carefully assessed against rigorous space management and strategic lease planning principles. It is essential to anticipate and plan for retail leasing cycles well in advance," he points out.

"By doing so, we can ensure that tenant offerings remain in sync with the changing needs of our consumers, and we can continue to respond to them.

"Like any popular shopping centre, the V&A Waterfront needs to constantly refresh and improve, to maintain standards and deliver on what customers expect."

Construction and refurbishment of the Victoria Wharf food court will start at the beginning of May, and is set to be completed by November.

Kabalin says existing food court tenants will be unable to continue operating from their existing premises during this time because of the reconfiguration of the space.

"Visitors will, however, have access to existing nearby casual eateries and specialist food outlets not affected by this move. These include Mcdonald's, Ocean Basket, Spur, Gelato Mania, San Marco and Kauai.

"The artisanal bakery and bistro, Vovo Telo, is also scheduled to open soon," Kabalin says.

This project has been planned to take place during the quieter winter months so as to cause as little disruption as possible to tenants, staff and visitors.

The amphitheatre, the heart of the V&A Waterfront entertainment hub, and central to the outdoor food court section, will remain out of use for most of the duration of the renovation. Kabalin says this is normally the case during winter, but the construction project is also taking into account the amphitheatre screen and electronic equipment.

The food court rejuvenation follows a number of recent sizeable development initiatives in the V&A Waterfront, such as the extensive R1 billion development at the Clock Tower Precinct, including the Number One Silo, which started last year.

"These expansion projects have spurred renewed energy and interest in the V&A Waterfront as a premier mixed-use development company," Kabalin says.

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