GEORGE NEWS - George is not escaping the depressive mood among business owners countrywide, but according to York Street Boulevard manager Elrina de Kroon, the city is fortunate that some opportunities are arising owing to the extra buying power from the influx of people moving into the area.
"George is growing and I think landlords in the CBD are starting to experience a bit of an upturn and are realising they have to plough back some capital in upgrading," says De Kroon.
Aria Property Group, that bought York Street Boulevard (formerly Redefine) about five years ago, recently added 3 000m² to the centre that now offers 12 000m² lettable space. Security was improved and new toilets were added.
The centre is accommodating several new tenants, and existing tenants such as Checkers and Tekkie Town now have bigger premises. During the past five months, Clicks, Ackermans, CNA and Pick n Pay Clothing have been added to the tenant mix.
"All the sites were already rented out before we started with the development. The first floor still has some open space, but there is serious interest from four potential tenants," says De Kroon.
Further up in York Street, the empty former premises of Dros Restaurant is being revamped for a new Dis-Chem branch, while the Medical Centre Pharmacy nearby in the Mediclinic building closed its doors. Dis-Chem Garden Route Mall manager Maryna van Loggerenberg says they took over the Medical Centre Pharmacy's licence, on the condition that all staff remain part of the new store.
"The new branch is a baby of 700m² compared with the 1 900m² in the mall, but it will have a little bit of everything. It will especially be convenient for residents on this side of the city to collect their prescriptions." The envisioned opening date is next week Thursday, 22 August.
Precap Centre manager Miemie Cronjé says it has been a long time since she has had empty space. "The centre always has a lot of feet and my tenants renew their contracts, but it is tough out there. The economy is listless and June and July are suicide months. The old days when one could apply an 8% escalation is gone. I know of landlords who do not escalate and have even reduced rental. One should not kill those who pay the rent, but it is difficult when costs rise. The electricity price increased by 13%. This has a snowball effect as the landlord has to recover his costs."
She also manages the Evstell Centre in an adjacent block in Courtenay Street. Debonairs will be moving in there to be under one roof with Steers. Q8 Club has not renewed its contract and will be moving out soon. Cronjé says there is already a lot of interest in the premises.
Pick n Pay Fourth Street Mall manager Pieter Viljoen says their new extension across the road from Pick n Pay has drawn new businesses that have not been available in George before. Barring two shops, the mall is full.
Paddagat centre is mostly full, save for three premises on the first floor, according to manager Leon van der Westhuizen. He says the renovation of the centre two years ago has had a positive effect on the number of feet.
Tekkie Town's head-office is also moving to the CBD soon. Renovations on their new premises in the OK building in Meade Street are underway.
The Garden Route Mall will have 10 tenant movements until February 2020, with a lot already happening. IBake recently did not renew. This space will be filled by Van Rensburg's Foods. CNA moved out and these premises will be accommodating
Mr Price Sport who requested smaller premises. Cotton On requires a bigger shop and will be moving into the old Mr Price Sport space. Sportscene relocated to the bigger former Due South premises. Total Sports, which is in the same national stable (TFG), will be expanding into the ex-Sportscene premises.
Cappuccino's, who also did not renew, will be replaced by Gapp Cafe. Centre manager Rion Olivier said usually tenant movements are spread throughout the year depending on the expiry profile of the tenancies, but this year many are occurring in the same time period, creating a perception among the public, but they are running a tight ship, without any outstanding rentals. "We are in touch with the needs of our tenants and shoppers.
"Over the past 10 years, nearly 60 new offerings were introduced at the mall to cater for new trends."
At Eden Meander, Patio Warehouse was the most recent big addition. The Eden Meander centre manager could not be reached before the newspaper went to print.
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