A new shopping centre is set to open in Plumstead in less than three months.
Construction of the 3 Arts Village was delayed due to Covid-19, but everything is “full steam ahead” and the mall is due to open on Thursday August 26, according to Alan Menigo, the chief operating officer and development manager for Rapfund Investments.
This comes after the former 3 Arts Theatre on the Main Road was sold to Rapfund, a British company which, according to Mr Menigo, owns shares in various shopping centres across Cape Town, including Steenberg Village (“Shopping centre proposed for 3 Arts”, Bulletin, November 21, 2019).
Mr Menigo says the plan is to turn the 7 500m² building into a neighbourhood shopping centre, with grocery stores, restaurants and two take-away drive-throughs. There will also be parking for about 40 vehicles with access from three entrances and exits in Francis, Birmingham and Main roads.
The 3 Arts Theatre was founded by entertainment entrepreneur Ronnie Quibell, in 1964. In its time, the theatre hosted several international acts such as Tina Turner and Johnny Holliday. Over the years, it has been turned into a cinema, ice rink, nursery and even a film studio.
Five years ago, Plumstead residents started a petition, pleading with the City to do something about the state of the building which they said had become run-down and unattractive. The residents complained it was ruining the look of the area, but the City could not interfere because the building was private property.
When Mr Quibell died in 2011, his sons took over the building. They refused to sell it, saying it was a part of their father’s legacy. But they eventually gave in and Rapfund bought the property in October 2019. At that time, Mr Menigo said both the sale and development would cost the company more than R200 million.
Last week, as concrete mixer trucks arrived to tip their loads onto the final slabs of the parking area, Mr Menigo said about 300 people were working on site. “It’s good for the economy. And retail stores are aiming to create 500 to 600 jobs for the local community,” he said.
The theme of the mall pays homage to the 3 Arts Theatre. “Everyone knows it. Mention 3 Arts and people know where it is. We want to make this a landmark in the area that the community can be proud of. The centre will add value to the surrounding properties,” said Mr Menigo.
The main body of the building has been incorporated into a double-volume entrance with two floors. The roof has been replaced.
Mr Menigo said the surrounding roads would be landscaped and uplifted with pavements. Alien plants along the Diep River canal would be cleared and two large trees on the Main Road’s eastern side were being retained.
There have been mixed reactions from the community. Long-time secretary of the Bergvliet Meadowridge Ratepayers’ Association, Winnie Craythorne, who now lives at Rathfelder retirement village across from the old theatre, said residents had put up with a lot of noise and dust during construction but the mall would be welcomed by surrounding residents who would be able to walk to the shops. The mall would also provide much-need employment.
Ingrid Bernstein, of Oakridge Estate in Meadowridge, said the new mall would be better than the run-down, neglected site it was replacing.
Michael Dreyer, who has lived in the nearby Steurhof Estate for all of his 82 years, said when the 3 Arts Theatre first opened there were incredible traffic jams.
“Only after there was a problem did they install traffic lights at the entrance adjacent to Diep River. This made a significant difference. The traffic lights were removed years ago when the 3 Arts Theatre ceased to function.”
Marian Nieuwoudt, mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, said an upgrade to the Main Road and Francis Road intersection could accommodate the development’s impact on traffic.
A traffic impact assessment, she said, had recommended traffic lights at the intersection, new lane markings to demarcate two southbound lanes on Main Road and two eastbound lanes on Francis Road and a median at the existing access to the 3 Arts site.