THE Alex Mall was in the spotlight at the recent Africa/Arabia international property awards ceremony in Dubai.
This was where design, quality, service, innovation, originality and a commitment to sustainability were put under the microscope.
The winners were judged by 80 independent, international property experts.
The 29565m² mall, which attracted a record 1.4million visitors in December last year, was unique in that it integrated contemporary innovation with the rich history of its geographical location, according to the judges.
Panels depicting legendary historical sites, events, and heroes and heroines – as well as living pioneers – are placed across the mall, telling the story of the township.
A shopper, or visitor, to the mall can trace the township’s evolution from its inception in 1904.
Bringing Alex’s political, social and cultural history to life was the brainchild of Greater Alexandra Chamber of Commerce (Galxcoc) chairperson Mpho Motsumi.
“The mall is the realisation of a dream, a celebration of our rich history, and an iconic testament to a legacy, 100 years in the making.”
After securing land from the City of Joburg, Motsumi forged a partnership with McCormick Property Development (MPD) and Valumax to put up the mall.
“The inclusion of the local community in all elements of the development, from construction work through to the growing of the plants and the job opportunities during the operational phase of the development, outlines our continued focus on local economic empowerment,” MPD managing director Jason McCormick said.
The sounds of penny whistler Lemmy Special Mabaso, boxing champion Joas “Kangaroo” Maoto, composer Caiphus Semenya, former presidents, soccer giants, politicians and jazz artist Hugh Masekela, among others, can be heard in the mall.
Motsumi brought the MPD team together with local historians Thabo Mopasi and Ben Mhlongo, and months of research preceded the official unveiling of the mall by Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba in March last year.
“We wanted to ensure that it would not just be a shopping centre but a community hub, and a living, breathing museum which pays tribute to Alexandra’s history.”
The development generated more than 2000 jobs for Alex residents and Motsumi is hopeful that as more initiatives take root in Alex, a mutually advantageous relationship can be forged with neighbouring Sandton, “the richest square mile in Africa”.
Having lobbied successfully to have the Marlboro Gautrain station’s name changed to Alexandra station, Motsumi now has his sights set on developing a museum, amphitheatre and conference centre.