The 68th development by rural retail experts McCormick Property Development (MPD) brings a retail offering of outstanding quality to the residents of Thembisa and surrounds. The regional mall was constructed over a period of 18 months, six of which were under various levels of the lockdown that resulted from the current pandemic. The Mall of Thembisa boasts over 140 tenants including four major food anchors – Super Spar, Shoprite, Boxer and Roots. The 44 809sqm double level mall also offers access to the full banking gambit, all major fashion brands, Dischem and Clicks. But this development is about more than retail excellence, it is about providing the community of Tembisa with a sense of hope for the future and a promise of better things to come. “From the start of construction in April 2019 this project and the surrounding community stole our hearts”, explains MD of MPD, Jason McCormick. “Every design element and decision was critically analysed to ensure connection to the area and its people. One of the team’s best decisions was to incorporate the letter h in the traditional spelling of the word Thembisa. Derived from an Nguni word meaning ‘hope’ or ‘promise’, this spelling is the definition of what the mall represents for us as developers and for the people of Thembisa”. A core focus throughout the project was improving the economic well-being of the communities that surround the Mall.

As a result, it is home to MPD’s first pilot farmers’ market-gardens. The Siyakhula Farmers’ Co-operative was established in August of this year with the goal of providing local farmers with the opportunity to grow and sell their produce. Specific space has been allocated to the co-op on site for the growing of spinach, beetroot, pumpkin and various herbs (in phase 1). Not only will the farmers have the ability to sell their produce directly to customers but an agreement is in place for them to supply to the restaurants within the Mall as well.

“We have partnered with the legendary Ma’Zwane of ‘Busy Corner’ fame in order to provide her kitchen with the necessary supplies but we are confident that with the right training and opportunities, the farmers will be able to supply all the kitchens and possibly even the anchor tenants at the Mall of Thembisa,” says Jason. Imbizo, the anchor restaurant at the mall, is a triple level culinary experience and the largest shisanyama in the country. In addition to the farmers market, one of the signature features in the development is the Kasi CoLAB store.

The CoLAB is a township designers emporium that allows local designers the opportunity to trade from a prime location within the mall for zero rental. 11 local entrepreneurs were hand-picked for the opportunity and will have 12 months to trade from the store with the long term goal for them to become successful individual tenants in their own rights – both at the Mall of Thembisa and beyond. 11 new candidates will be selected after the 12 month period to ensure equal opportunities for all budding Tembisa creatives. “We have always believed that employing local is integral to the success of our developments and, wherever possible, our dictum has always been ‘local first’. Well over 70% of our employees on site during construction were residents from Tembisa. This translates into the creation of approximately 2 500 local jobs during construction. We also anticipate that almost 80% of the staff complement of the mall tenants are local residents, says Jason.”“Despite the challenges that 2020 presented, as a team we have exceeded even our wildest expectations with the Mall of Thembisa. As our largest development to date, it has established a new standard for rural retail developments and we look forward to watching the landscape of this sector evolve even further in the years to come.”