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Wednesday Nov 27, 2013

V&A shoppers going underground

The V&A Waterfront is going underground - with the opening tomorrow of a new supermarket in what used to be a parking area.

The underground supermarket taking shape.

Waterfront chief executive David Green said the designers of the complex had had the foresight to build the parking garage at retail height, so that there was always an option to expand downwards to the lower level.

The precast concrete strips used in a portion of the existing ground-floor slab could easily be removed to make way for new escalators. It therefore took just one evening to install this feature, thanks to the 'clever and forward-thinking design decisions' made when the mall was built in 1992, said Green.

The mall, designed by Louis Karol, has a late-80s, early-90s style, but the durable, industrial finishes mean that nearly two decades later, the decor has not dated.

The Waterfront has invested R100 million in the building of a tunnel to connect the Breakwater garage with Victoria Wharf and the new Pick n Pay store.

Green said the construction of this tunnel link presented its 'own set of complex challenges' as the two garages were at different levels.

However, despite being a subterranean store, there is still plenty of light because of the unique shop design and glass frontage.

'It took a substantial amount of careful design and co-ordination to fit everything into the basement space and to ensure the desired result without jeopardising the tenants trading above,' said Green.

Work is also being done on creating a new 'cross mall' that will provide a shopping loop in the centre of the retail mall area.

Green said these expansions would add an extra 20 percent of retail space and formed part of a long-term plan to increase the number of shops and brands on offer.

According to a study by Economic Information Services, the Waterfront's new developments, which include the Silo and Granger Bay precincts, could contribute a cumulative R188 billion to the local economy by 2023. This will also mean an increase in the number of spin-off jobs substantially from the 3 160 created this year to a potential 20 898 job opportunities by 2023.

Peter Arnold, food merchandising director for Pick n Pay, said the company was 'very nervous' at first about suggestions that the Waterfront would be a good location for a new store. 'But now we are excited.' He said that while the V&A was popular with tourists, the new concept store would draw local shoppers too.

Cape Argus


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