Wernhil Facelift to Revitalize CBD

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The multi-million dollar facelift and extension project of Wernhil Park Shopping Centre, aimed at transforming the CBD into a fusion of attractiveness, has reached an advanced stage, say project managers. The upgrade that began in February last year is the first major renovation for the shopping mall since it opened in 1989. The refurbishment to the tune of N$140 million by the Ohlthaver & List Group of Companies will set a new standard for Windhoek’s CBD. Yesterday, the Ohlthaver & List Public Relations Group Manager Patrick Hashingola disclosed that the project is now in its second phase whose commencement was in March 2006. Expected to be completed in June 2007, the second phase will cost N$120 million. The first phase, which mainly involved the renovation of the parking area, started in February 2005 and ended in June the same year. It cost N$20 million. He revealed, “The second phase involves the complete redevelopment of the current Wernhil Park Shopping Centre with the objective to give the existing centre an overall face-lift, but at the same time extend the centre’s retail area which will result in exciting new retailers being added to our tenant mix.” The current retail area will be extended from 18 000 square meters to 25 000 square meters. An additional parking deck that will make provision for a further 220 parking bays will also form part of the phase. The reconfiguration of the mall areas and overall refurbishment of the existing centre, inside as well as outside, are also part of the building activities. Already, several retail outlets have been opened for business with many more expected before the end of next month. Approximately 400 job opportunities have been created during the duration of the development. The architect Leon Jacobs added that the main aim is to keep the CBD alive and not let it turn into disarray. He says the complex will be given a contemporary touch with walls mainly made of glass, natural stone, aluminum and steel. Members of the public, particularly women, have complained of the slippery floor making it a nightmare for them to move on in their stiletto shoes. According to the Project Manager, Bryn Llewellyn, several meetings were held to discuss this problem and specialists have been engaged to sort out the matter. He assured that a game plan has been identified and the solution will be put in place early November. Considering that a shopping centre should be an extension of a home environment, the centre, unlike the way it was before ,will have ablution blocks with the latest technology applied. The architect stated that unlike the traditional trend of building two toilets for ladies and gents, there will be additional cubicles for breastfeeding and nappy changing. “People will not have to touch the sinks (taps). You put your hands under the sink and water will run. Once you move it closes,” said Jacobs. Managing Director of the Ohlthaver & List Group, Sven Thieme, talked about the need to ensure that the shopping centre is sustainable. Though the construction work has not ended, he revealed that a lot of interest has been shown from the business community to operate from Wernhil. The Ohlthaver & List Group of companies is one of the largest property owners in the CBD and has been the largest investor over the past three years. The overall property portfolio investment in the CBD exceeds N$600 million and is likely to increase with future developments planned over the next five years.