The eagerly-anticipated Boardwalk Mall in Gqeberha opened its doors in March, rejuvenating the popular Sun International hotel, casino and retail complex and providing much needed employment in Gqeberha.
During the 16-month construction phase, 1 146 workers were employed, and once the Mall is completed in September, 1 500 permanent jobs will be created, showcasing a rise in economic activity post the unprecedented downturn caused by the pandemic.
Zibele Sabisa, a 32 year-old from Joe Slovo started working at the mall in March as a security guard, after being unemployed since 2019. “This job came as the answer to my prayers,” the father of one said. “The experience has been out of this world; I Iove meeting new people and just being here is quite humbling.” Together with his mother, who sells food from her home, Sabisa’s salary helps to support his three sisters.
Solomzi Nqweni, General Manager of Boardwalk Mall said the opening of the first phase of stores had been a “resounding success”. “Developers Flanagan & Gerard have been working on this project for many years, so we were interested to see how the public would react when they saw what we have created. Comments have been overwhelmingly positive and have made all the hard work worth it.”
Close to 30 stores have already opened across 6 000m² of retail, restaurant and entertainment, with a further 17 000m² still to come.
“We know the Summerstrand and Humewood communities have been asking for some big brands like Woolworths and Dischem on their doorstep, and we will soon be answering that call along with Checkers, Pick n Pay, Clicks, Sportscene, Totalsports, Lovisa, Doppio Zero and @Home open in Phase two.”
Boardwalk Mall has the luxury of having a casino and a hotel attached to it, contributing to the complex becoming “the Bay’s playground”. “All of Boardwalk’s different elements contribute to adding value to our customers’ experience. We have a very strong relationship with all teams on site and Gqeberha can expect to see events from concerts to live sports in the precinct.”
Nqweni said he anticipated the Boardwalk precinct becoming a tourism node for South Africa, competing with the likes of Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront and being internationally recognised. “We know this site has the potential to achieve that and we are backed up by hosting world-class events such as Ironman which is held on the centre plaza, Sun Park. We are proud to serve the Gqeberha community and we will work to maintain and improve the standard we have set for years to come. Our tenants have had their hands full coping with the demand and it has been encouraging to see how the busyness of the mall has converted into some solid trade for our tenants.”
Boardwalk Casino enjoyed an increase of 20% in footfall since the opening of the first phase of the mall. “As a result, we had to reopen the doors leading from the mall to the main floor non-smoking area, and we believe that the second phase will further increase visits to the Casino as regulars and new punters enjoy trying their luck on our machines and tables,” said Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World General Manager Tati Tsunke.
Phase two of the mall will open on 22 September 2022.