The construction phase of the multi-million pula Rail Park Mall at the busy Gaborone Bus rank started this week after the ground breaking activity paving way for the project that will compete with other shopping malls that have been heating up.
The park that will be built on 8 hectare piece of land that has been sitting idle on the Botswana Railways (BR) balance sheet, is eyeing the 60, 000 people that use the pedestrian bridge daily.
“We are bringing shopping to the people. These are the people who did not have cars to travel to do their shopping,” said David Tsheboeng, Managing Director of BR Properties.
The project sits on one of the prime plots that BR, the government parastatal, owns along the railway line from Ramatlabama to Ramokgwebana.
The move to develop the project will unlock the value of the land simultaneously diversifying the income of the BR that has in the past relied on Gabcon.
This is the first flagship property development since BR Properties, which is a subsidiary of BR, was set up in 2007.
It was set up to exploit BR land assets worth around P700 million and give the parastatal the capability to borrow money from the open market.
“There is a market that has been yearning for the site,” Victor Senye, Rail Park Mall director said.
“The land has been in BR balance sheet sitting idle, it is commendable that BR took the decision to develop it,” Senye added.
Built by Murray and Roberts, the project is expected to come on stream in September 2011 and alleviate pressure from other malls that have been heating up as there has not been any development of new big shopping complexes since trail blazers–Game City and Riverwalk.
The over P350 million shopping complex will be developed through the partnership of Bifm- Eris (former Rand Merchant Bank), that will contribute P20 million and P15 million respectively and Treddinick Botswana with P15 million contribution.
Senye believes with arguments over property development bubble, the success of the Rail Park Mall will ‘be decided by the man in the street’.
Rail Park will include a 8 x 70 meter manned bridge, which will be a direct link between the two existing shopping malls. Equally, food court will be part of the scheme that introduces a break between office and retail buildings to serve as a meeting point.
It will also spend an additional P4 million improving access roads around the Bus Rank.
The project will add to Gaborone Main Mall, BBS Mall, African Mall, RiverWalk Mall, Game City, CBD and yet another mall to be announced in the coming weeks to be built in Gaborone.
The site behind Gaborone Hotel (GH) will tap into the busiest part of the city where thousands of commuters use the taxi and bus links to other parts of the city and the greater Gaborone.
The mall will service people from major centres like Molepolole, Mochudi, Lobatse, Ramotswa, Kanye and hamlets around the city. Therefore, analysts believe the mall could be viable.
Tsheboeng told Sunday Standard in May that the target is to raise P100 million equity from partners and borrow the remaining P200 million from local financial institutions.
BR was expected to hold 58 percent on the project.