Mall war looms as tenants fade

Posted On Tuesday, 28 May 2002 10:31 Published by
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An error made 20 years ago could cripple a mall in Rosebank, Johannesburg

An error made 20 years ago could cripple a mall in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

It seems that when The Firs (12500m) and the smaller Galleria created a common mall in the Seventies, nobody formalised the agreement.

Now The Firs has closed access from its lower level, distressing Gallerias retailers .

The Firs has converted most of its lower retail space into parking for the Hyatt hotel next door. Escalators that took Galleria customers to The Firs upper shopping level and on to the rest of Rosebank now go only to the hotel lobby.

The only access to basement-level Galleria is from its own parking garage, an escalator from Biermann Ave, or an office lift to The Firs upper level. These are little used by Rosebank shoppers, who appear reluctant to leave the cocoon of the main malls. Retailers say passing trade has dropped by 90%.

The two centres have been operating almost as one for more than 20 years . They became part of a grand scheme to connect pedestrians to all shopping in Rosebank from Galleria via The Zone to Rosebank Mall.

Marshall Finlay, whose Finlay & Associates manages The Firs for the Iscor pension fund, says retailers no longer want to support two-level centres.

After Pick n Pay moved from us to the Rosebank Mall last year and most of the surrounding shops closed, we had no choice but to convert the space to parking, says Finlay.

He adds that his legal advice is that we have no obligation to keep the common mall open.

The owner of Galleria, Leverage property fund, managed by Cape-based Catalyst, says it is considering its options.

Checkers has the primary lease over Galleria until late 2004, which complicates matters as it is Checkers that has to deal with the unhappy retailers.

Catalyst director Anton Botha says hes concerned about the tenants plight. We dont want to take over an empty centre in 2004.

I will talk to anyone who thinks they can make the connection work for us, says Finlay.

Financial Mail

Publisher: Financial Mail
Source: Financial Mail

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