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Sandton City Mall
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrLocated in the financial district of Sandton city, or the “Little African Manhattan” as it is commonly called, Sandton City Mall is an upscale shopping center, in which the main building distinguishes itself from all the others by its unique pyramid-shaped roof. It’s considered as one of the favorite shopping and business destinations in South Africa, and also the continent’s largest retail complex.
HistoryOne can never imagine that 50 years ago, the area where stands this prolific shopping center, was full of sandy horse trails, and grassy estates belonging to local farmers. In the early 1970s, Johannesburg was an ever expanding metropolis, and consequently, the destination of choice for shoppers. But this led to the CBD area having a shortage of parking space, so the municipality underwent a rezoning project.
The project was granted to two South African entrepreneurs, Rapp and Maister working for Liberty Properties, whose choice for the future location of the mall was influenced by the newly built freeway linking Johannesburg to Pretoria.
On December 12th 1973, Sandton City Mall opened its doors to the public, and soon became one of the most prestigious shopping centers in Africa. At the time, it only covered 50,000 m² compared to the 115,000 m² today. It had 120 stores spread over four levels, 2,500 parking bays and the Sandton City Office Towers, which consisted of 21 levels.
The mall was initially scheduled to be named ‘Knoppieslaagte City Shopping Center’, but then its developers decided to name it after the two suburbs of Sandhurst and Bryanston.
The Nelson Mandela Square; formerly known as the ‘Sandton Square’, was renamed in 2004, after the unveiling of a 6 meters bronze statue, honoring the Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Today, Sandton City Mall is 6 storeys high, with over 300 stores.
ArchitectureThe Sandton complex was mainly inspired by two leading international malls, Center commercial Parly 2, Versailles in France and the Yorkdale Shopping Center in Toronto, Canada.
The structure first consisted of a rectangular design, mostly hosting retailing stores. The "L"-shaped building was introduced in the next phase of the expansion, because businesses were granted only small portions of the site. The remainder was set for parking and pending rezoning. It covered three times less the space it covers now (50,000m²), initially cost $ 12,750 USD to buy the land from the owners; $ 1,822,350 USD for all other construction costs, and 3 years to complete (from 1970 to 1973). Its architectural style is a combination of contemporary and classical influence, with the highest building reading “Sandton City”, can be seen from miles away.
Today, plans to make the shopping complex bigger are still on the way. In 2008, it received a $ 161,205,883 USD upgrade, consisting of the addition of an 80-storeys office tower, new office and retail space as well as residential apartments, which will total a gross lettable area of 215,000 m². Due to the shortage of available land, the trend in the new development is to go upward. The London-based RTKL Associates was chosen to design the complex.
ShopsWith 300 retail stores, this mega-mall has just what one needs. People often joke about how one should visit Sandton City and bring an empty suitcase; well these people are right. If you love high fashion brands, you’ll find small exclusive tenants like Armani jeans, Crabtree and Evelyn, Hugo Boss, Mango, Browns Diamond, and Spilhaus, just to name a few.
EdgarsYou will find items like accessories, cosmetics, footwear, fragrances, housewares for any gender and age. You can also buy internationally reputed brands such as Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, MAC, and Estee Lauder, at very competitive prices, and with shop assistants to help you with any queries. Opened since 1929, Edgars is South Africa’s leading retail group with retail accounting for 85% of its total revenue, a revenue that sometimes reaches $1.87 billion USD.
CheckersA supermarket chain which focuses on fresh produce while also offering a wider choice of food products. People from the upper-income class group would shop there as it provides products for the discerning shopper with their lifestyle department of wine, cheese, and meat. It is also the convenient store for time-pressed customers. Checkers court covers 380 m².
Both stores are opened 7 days a week, from 09:00 AM until 08:00 PM from Monday to Friday, and opened until 09:00 PM on Saturdays.
RestaurantsSandton City host a total of 26 restaurants, offering various eateries such as cafés, fast foods, bakeries, desserts, and Italian. Some of these restaurants have been in the mall for more than 30 years, which proves that they must be offering the quality that is expected. The top eateries on our list are:
Doppio zeroThey specialize in Mediterranean cuisine and offer dining on two levels. You can enjoy an excellent breakfast, lunch, coffee, one of their many cakes on display or a pizza cooked in their wood-fired oven on the lower-level. Or have dinner with friends on the upper-level, inside or on the patio.
Walnut Grove:Known as the longest running restaurant in Sandton City (opened since 1975), you can enjoy a cup of cappuccino and breakfast in the pantry area, play a game of chess at the library, or simply sip a cocktail in the bar area.
Mugg and BeanSet in a very relaxed and friendly environment, it is one of the most popular restaurants in South Africa, with friendly staff, and their generous portions of delicious food.
CinnabonThey specialize in baking and confectionery. Try their warm dough specialty, filled with Makara cinnamon topped with cream frosting.
Deli OneA coffee bar, whose fresh cakes and pastries attract many visitors to the mall. The only problem is that the pastries and cakes are only allowed to be ordered or taken away, implying that you can only eat items available on the menu, which is very confusing to many customers, and has led to some very uncomfortable situations, between the managers of the Deli and some of their clients.
EntertainmentSandton City Mall is always busy when it comes to entertainment. It can be a special offer, a celebrity appearance or a mini concert. You can also go for a movie at Ster-kinekor, an 11 screen cinema complex, equipped with 3D technology, where they play the latest international movies. You also have the option to visit their remarkable library at the Nelson Mandela Square with its collection of 92,000 cover books, audio books, multiple videos, CD's; language tapes and local newspapers.
AccommodationWith amenities that are matched nowhere else in South Africa, the hotels found in the vicinity of Sandton City will offer you luxurious hotels with rooms equipped with satellite TV, in-room kitchens that include refrigerators, microwaves, cookware, and dishware. The bathrooms are equipped with a convenient separate bathtub and shower, along with bathrobes, slippers, designer toiletries, safes, and most of the time, free bottled water. You’ll also be pleased to try their swimming pools and gyms, or spend the rest of your evening at their spas or health clubs. Below is an elaborated short list of the best accommodation, situated just a few minutes away from the shopping mall, or Mandela square.
The intercontinentalWith its 231 guestrooms starting from $ 220 USD a night and 17 suites, it has a 24-hours room service, and a convenient sky bridge that links the hotel directly to the shopping mall.
The Sandton SunFrom $ 218 USD a night, it also counts within its facility some restaurants, a shoe-shine service, a travel desk to help you with your travelling reservations, a direct-dial phone number and also provides housekeeping services.
The Michelangelo HotelLocated in Mandela Square, it facilitates your access to the mall’s finest stores, restaurants, cinemas and theaters. Rooms start from $ 300 USD a night.
Raphael Penthouse SuitesFrom $ 332 USD a night (breakfast included in the price), it offers free parking and internet. It has been described as an oasis of luxury with its highly decorated suites. On your departure day, if you leave early before the scheduled breakfast time, they’ll even present you with a boxed breakfast to go.
Davinci Hotel suitesA boutique hotel on Mandela Square. They have spacious, comfortable rooms that lead to spacious balconies. They also offer a shuttle bus service, and have wheelchair-friendly access. The rooms cost around $ 263 USD a night.
How to Get ThereThe mall is accessible by the following roads: Rivonia, Sandton Drive, Fifth Street, Alice Lane, and West Street.
If you are coming from the Oliver Tambo International Airport by train, there is an airport service linking Sandton to the airport that will cost you around $ 9.00 USD to $ 10 USD for a single trip. All the airport trains travel via Sandton Station, at a speed of 160 km to 180 km an hour, it will only take you 15 minutes from Sandton to the airport. The Sandton Gautrain station is situated at the Sandton housing flagship station, at the corner of West Street and Rivonia Road.
If you decide to rent a car from the airport from different agencies, like ACE, Alamo, or Avis, take the R24 from the airport towards Johannesburg, then take the N3 from Pretoria off-ramp. Take the exit 124 frpm Sandton M69 Marlboro drive, turning left into Marlboro Drive; follow Marlboro until the T junction with Katherine Street. Finally, turn left into Katherine Street and follow Katherine Street into Sandton.
For security measures, we will not advise any solicitation of metered taxis from the airport, unless you know a taxi driver personally and trust him.
SafetyThe Sandton City Shopping Mall, is one of the safest places in the country. No major incidents have ever been reported since its creation; broadly thanks to a team of 70 public safety agents, who help in creating a safe and well-managed environment.
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Author: Comasco. Last updated: Dec 14, 2014