3Arts Village shopping mall opens

Incoming Ward 73 councillor Eddie Andrews with Brian and Rensje Quibell, Lindsay Quibell, Trish-Lynn Riley of Rapfund, Janine Quibell and Alan Menigo of Rapfund.

The 3Arts Village shopping mall was officially opened this week with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by some of the Quibell family who are past owners of the Plumstead landmark.

The opening was due to take place on August 26 (“3 Arts Village on track to open in August”, Bulletin, June 11) according to Rapfund Investments chief operating officer and development manager, Alan Menigo. Due to Covid-19 and City council hold-ups, the opening took place on Tuesday November 2.

The Quibell family are delighted that the shopping centre is open, according to Lindsay Quibell. Her dad, Ronnie and brothers Derek and Stephen worked on the plan 34 years ago. Before he died he said it is strong enough to last for 500 years (“Ronnie Quibell, an impresario ahead of his time”, Bulletin, January 12, 2012). Since then it has been an ice rink, a cinema, a film studio and a farmer’s market and film studio.

Issues around rezoning to allow extra buildings, such as Burger King, which was planned for by her dad, had put some developers off, said Ms Quibell. She said there have been offers, which included demolishing the building and replacing it with retirement villages, but Rapfund loved and accepted the plan as it stood.

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony the family sat in a restaurant where the entrance once stood, name-dropping famous names of people who had performed there, including Tom Jones, Cliff Richard, Engelbert Humperdinck, Vera Lynn, Johnny Mathis and Petula Clark.

Brian Quibell was still working at the back of the building doing sound and lighting when the property was sold to Rapfund. Most of the family still live in the Constantia valley although some spent years working in America while leasing out the building.

Joint memories include theatre shows and movies where the kids would come out shooting or doing kung fu moves after a Bruce Lee film. Granddaughter Kristina Verwey remembers seeing Die Antwoord and ice skating but also recalls that the building was dilapidated.

Mr Quibell said the building went up around 1965. At that time some people said it looked like a warehouse. Brian remembers the architect, a Mr Sterling, who had long fingernails and also designed the Luxurama building that once stood in Wynberg. Mr Sterling designed the 3 Arts to have pillars. A crane then slotted pre-cast slabs in between. Rapfund have kept the footprint of the original building and replaced some of the slabs with glass.

The building was strong, according to Mr Quibell although he tells a story of the orchestra pit which had a removable wooden floor. It collapsed and the orchestra fell into water underneath (possibly from flooding at the nearby canal) and got wet.

Mr Quibell said his dad never got stressed to which Ms Quibell recalls her dad’s driving. “All other cars must get out of the way,” she laughed, adding that all his cars were imported and always shiny gold or metallic, Pontiacs and DeSotos.

Her parents would drive to La Perla in Sea Point before the shows. Her mum always had her hair done. Ms Quibell said her mum would make all of the curtains for the stage, about 30m high, velvet is the worst to work with, she said.

Her mum was a real lady, would not swear, used terms like golly gosh. She always made time for tea on Friday afternoon and would rope in the grandchildren to help make hundreds of mince pies. She was never too busy to lay out Ronnie’s clothes every day and he was generous and kind.

Meanwhile, shoppers came to check out the mall. Dorothy Robertson of Diep River remembers seeing Rolf Harris at the theatre, in fact she saw all the shows and said they were the good old days of clean shows that anyone could take their youngsters to.

Maggi Dowdeswell and Yvonne Goodsen said the mall is nicely laid out, is very impressive, clear and airy and has a nice buzz. It is an improvement on the old building and has high ceilings, which is unusual.

Ray van Wyk from Kalk Bay and Amina Joseph from Retreat are running The Book Shoppe. They moved from Tokai Junction where they had been for 16 years, saying it was time for change. Being part of 3 Arts Village is something new and exciting, said Mr Van Wyk.

At the entrance, Ashra Adams of Retreat said she was born into the industry and has been selling flowers since she was 12, helping her mum in Adderley Street.

Rapfund head of finance, Trish-Lynn Riley, said the 31 tenants will all have moved into the village by the end of the month.

“It’s a happy ending. Rapfund saw the vision and completed it. This is upliftment for the community and psyche that the theatre has been reborn,” said Ms Quibell.

Blossom Three flower seller, Ashra Adams of Retreat says she was born into the industry and has been selling flowers since she was 12, helping her mum in Adderley Street.
Dorothy Robertson of Diep River remembers seeing Rolf Harris at the theatre.
Maggi Dowdeswell and Yvonne Goodsen said the mall is an improvement on the old building and has high ceilings, which is unusual.
Ray van Wyk from Kalk Bay and Amina Joseph from Retreat moved The Book Shoppe from Tokai Junction and said being part of 3Arts Village is something new and exciting.
The 3Arts Village shopping mall was officially opened this week.