Apart from a new look, all the Gemgrow centres will also be rebranded with new signage. As for the Checkers centre, it will be rebranded to Makhado Grove. Artist’s impression supplied.
Date: 04 August 2019 By: Andries van Zyl
The Louis Trichardt central business district (CBD) is currently abuzz, with some major renovations taking place at several of the big shopping centres.
This follows Gemgrow Properties Limited's purchase of the Checkers Centre, Noor Centre, Hawama Noor Centre and the Shoprite centre from well-known businessman Mr Solly Noor. In addition, Gemgrow also owns the Thompson building, the Autozone building, and the Total Sports, Noor Gardens and Foschini buildings.
“Gemgrow is heavily committed to making Louis Trichardt great and they are committed to delivering services that people expect from a landlord,” said Gemgrow in a press release. They said they wanted to give back to the community and hence they were in the process of refurbishing several of their properties in order to make the consumers’ shopping experience safer and more pleasant. This includes all centres, apart from the Thompson, Autozone, Total Sport and Foschini buildings, which are to be tackled at a later stage.
In charge of the upgrades and rental aspect of the centres is Ancora Group in affiliation with Finlay, while Jo-Marel Construction was appointed as the main contractor.
The Zoutpansberger spoke to the managing director of Jo-Marel Construction, Mr Johan van Aswegen, this week to find out what exactly they have planned for the town’s CBD. This comes in the wake of recent reports confirming several national chain stores, including banks such as ABSA and Standard Bank, moving to Makhado Crossing as part of a process of upgrading it to a regional mall. Many residents might have seen by now that ABSA had already moved out of the town’s CBD.
So, is this the death of the town’s CBD? Definitely not, said Van Aswegen. “People still prefer to stop in front of a shop rather than to park far away and having to walk long distances to the shop. Also people don't want to drive out of town and cross the highway to do shopping as that is not convenient. But the shops must be up to standard. If we allow the standard to drop, like in many other CBD's, then people will definitely drive across the road to shop somewhere else,” said Van Aswegen.
By now, residents might have witnessed a vast improvement at the Checkers centre, the Choppies centre and shops along Songozwi Street between Munnik and Burger Street. Upgrades include the installing of lights at all the properties to increase visibility. Also, due to the high footfall of the sites, the refurbishment process also includes paving the streets of the CBD. They are also completing long-needed refurbishments such as fixing the lifts, painting the centres, and fixing ceilings and leaking roofs. Tenants are very happy with the changes and are excited as a renewed interest has been generated in their businesses and concerns. One of the biggest challenges facing Louis Trichardt is the availability of water. To address the problem, Gemgrow has also installed boreholes and water at their centres. They have also fixed the toilets at all the centres and installed baby-changing stations in the bathrooms to allow mums to change their children comfortably.
So, who is going and who is staying? Van Aswegen said that, at present, both Checkers and Choppies would remain where they were as both still have lease agreements in place. “We are in negotiation with Checkers and everything looks positive,” said Van Aswegen. This is not to say that Checkers will not be opening a second branch at the “new” Makhado Crossing.
Most of the shops and businesses will remain at the Checkers centre, including FNB and the SASSA offices, while new additions to the centre include Marius Brönn Pharmacy moving in and the opening of a Checkers Liquor. Further down the road, Mr Price and Milady’s will also be moving out, but not too far. They will be moving into the ground floor of the ABSA building. “Mr Price will be opening a stunning new store,” said Van Aswegen. As for the second and third floor of the building, Van Aswegen said they were envisaging some twenty flats aimed at the middle-class income group. Residents will also soon see major renovations at the Shoprite centre. Apart from the building’s refurbishments, the whole area will be tarred again, as well as high-mast lighting poles erected for increased visibility and safety. Shoprite has also recently renewed their agreement in the Shoprite centre as well as a new Shoprite liquor that will be opening soon.
According to Van Aswegen, all renovations are taking place in phases, the first of which already started in mid-March this year. If everything goes according to plan, all refurbishments will be completed by the end of the year. To top everything off, all the buildings will also receive new signage, apart from a new look.
Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.
Major renovations are currently taking place at these centres as part of owners Gemgrow’s plans to breathe new life into Louis Trichardt’s CBD. Image supplied.
Water in Louis Trichardt remains a problem. To address the situation at their centres, Gemgrow have sunk their own boreholes, like at the Checkers centre. Photo supplied.
As part of the upgrades at the Checker centre, new lighting was installed in the underground parking area. The lift to the upper floor was also repaired while the whole parking area got a new coat of paint. Photo supplied.
Upgrades include the installing of lights at all the properties to increase visibility. Also, due to the high footfall of the sites, the refurbishment process also includes paving the streets of the CBD. Photo supplied.