- Fourways Mall is now the biggest shopping centre in South Africa.
- Business Insider South Africa went inside to see what it looks like.
- For more visit Business Insider South Africa.
Fourways Mall opened its doors more than 20 years ago. It was the first mall of its kind in the area, built to cater to the burgeoning suburbia in the far north of Johannesburg.
Until three years ago, Fourways Mall saw little in the way of upgrades. But in 2016, developers Accelerate Property Fund broke ground on what they said would be a multi-phased, R3.3 billion upgrade.
In August this year, after years of traffic disruptions and extensive developments, that saw some 21 cranes becoming a permanent fixture on the Fourways skyline, they announced the completion of the final phase - at a total cost of R8.8 billion.
By swallowing up several smaller stores and centres on the same corner of land, they’ve expanded the mall to become the biggest in South Africa. At 192,000m², it has overtaken the previous record holder, Pretoria’s Menlyn Park, by 15,000m².
Business Insider SA recently visited the new and improved mall. Here's what we found.
Access to the mall is significantly easier than before…
The new developments, which included a R280 million expansion to Fourways Boulevard, provide large flyovers that deliver shoppers right into the underground parking.
…and there’s more parking than you’ll know what to do with.
The developers appear to have taken no chances when it comes to providing adequate parking for shoppers - they’ve built more than 3,000 new bays in a brutalist concrete structure along Fourways Boulevard.
There’s also a large underground taxi rank on the premises, and it will, eventually, be connected to a Gautrain station as well.
The size of the mall means you’ll achieve your daily step count with ease, and the lower level feels like a casino, or nightclub, of sorts.
The new mall is massive. It took Business Insider South Africa 20 minutes to walk the 1.8km outer circumference.
We clocked more than 8,000 steps during the shopping excursion.
The developers have blocked out most natural light in the downstairs entertainment area -a common trick used by casinos. LEDs of various hues, and multi-coloured string installations, mask the raw concrete roof and guide you mindlessly to the food, movies, and games.
And they’re doubling down on the kid pulling power…
Children are the main focus of the entertainment at Fourways Mall. If you can get them through the food court, which has all expected local and international fast food brands flanking both sides of the passageway, you’ll need to contend with a several other money-sapping attractions.
There's a 10-lane bowling alley...
…and a special “Kids Cinema” that has a dedicated entertainment area outside, the latest kids releases, colourful chairs, and a giant tube slide in the actual theatre.
There’s also a giant indoor park that has more than 100 interconnected trampolines.
And, if you’d like your children to get a little vitamin D, you’ll still find Adventure Golf snaking through the forested area outdoors, which has seen little in the way of upgrades over the last 20 years.
There’s also a giant random Boeing on display, while they finish off the anticipated Kidzania, which opens early next year.
And several selfie-worthy gimmicks along the way, that’ll probably appeal to more than just children.
To reach the newest part of the centre, you’ll need to walk a wasteland of relocated stores.
The long walk from the entertainment area to the newest section of the mall will take you past the shuttered haunts of the centre’s relocated anchor tenants and large retailers.
Truworths is more than enormous, with different sections for all its sub brands like Ginger Mary, Daniel Hechter. It's so large, you can possibly get lost inside.
You’ll need to mind your step - often.
The developers can’t be too happy with their tile suppliers. They appear to have spent a lot of time patching up hundreds of cracks and large holes in their shiny new flooring.
And even when the brand new tiles are in tact, you’ll need to walk carefully, especially if you’re wearing anything but sneakers.
There’s also a good chance you’ll get lost - more than once - in spite of a colour coded way-finding system.
Even on a quiet weekday morning, Business Insider South African witnessed several incidents that suggested shoppers were lost in the new section - people scouring paper maps, asking security guards and cleaners for directions, family members discussing whether they’d already been down a certain corridor, and exhausted shoppers seeking assistance from strategically located, but seemingly temporary, info desk staff.
The centre claims there is a way finding system that uses colour coding and animals to help guide shoppers from their parking bay through the sprawling centre. But it’s more confusing than it is helpful.
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