Shoppers at one of KwaZulu-Natal’s most popular and long-serving retail centres will notice some exciting changes in the coming months. La Lucia Mall is undertaking major upgrade that will modernise and re-imagine its retail space in 2019.
The iconic mall has been at the forefront of retail trends, having undergone eight extensions and five major mall upgrades since it first opened its doors in 1974 in KwaZulu-Natal. Its most recent major upgrade was in 2003. La Lucia Mall’s 2019 refurbishment will once again set the bar for contemporary mall design trends and position it confidently well into the future.
Owned by Growthpoint Properties, La Lucia Mall is a key property in the leading REIT’s core retail portfolio. “La Lucia Mall has proven a strong asset and we are pleased to undertake this well-appointed upgrade. We are confident in the future of the mall and its well-defined loyal market. This upgrade will ensure the longevity and success of La Lucia Mall for years to come,” says Neil Schloss, Growthpoint’s Head of Asset Management: Retail.
La Lucia Mall is thriving in what has recently become one of the most competitive retail nodes in South Africa. Over 100,000sqm of retail space has opened in its primary and secondary trade areas in the north of Durban over the past few years, yet La Lucia Mall remains a firm favourite with its devoted shoppers from the affluent north Durban suburbs.
“La Lucia Mall has a great tenant mix that is specifically curated and constantly refined to meet the needs of its unique shopper base. This welcome cosmetic upgrade will ensure that our retail experience is superbly showcased,” says La Lucia Mall Centre Manager Vanessa Blevins.
She adds, “By reinventing our space and modernising it, we are really allowing our retailers to shine and giving our loyal shoppers what they are accustomed to and love about La Lucia Mall.”
Classified as a ‘small regional shopping centre’, La Lucia’s location is unparalleled. While enjoying excellent access from a major arterial route, it is decentralised in a high-demand suburban residential community of mostly LSM 10 residents. With over 50 schools in its catchment area and a Virgin Active right on its doorstep, La Lucia is the heart of a live, work, play, learn neighbourhood. It is centred around meeting the everyday shopping and other important needs of its community, offering them one-stop shopping seven days a week with the added convenience of 1,000 free parking bays.
WBHO is the main contractor for the upgrade and Bentel Associates International is the architect. Bentel first designed La Lucia Mall in 1972 as a 12,000sqm shopping mall and has been involved in each of its expansions, taking it to its current size of some 40,000sqm.
“La Lucia Mall is in our blood and we are happy once again to be giving this grand centre a new facelift, both inside and out, to create a more contemporary, yet timeless aesthetic,” says Stephen Roberts, Chairman of Bentel Associates. Externally, a neutral colour palette has been chosen to enhance the building. The entrance design is being simplified to make entry points to the mall easily identifiable and the entrances will exude a feeling of lightness and permeability. Feature signage walls have been introduced and placed strategically to optimise the visibility and legibility of retailers’ signs.
For the interiors, the aim is to enhance the shopping experience with a seamless design using fluid lines and the understated elegance of a neutral colour scheme. The traditional marble floor is being replaced with a patterned porcelain tile to create interiors that are subtler and visually less structured. New timber ceiling elements will also add warmth and texture.
La Lucia Mall’s refurbishment is eco-friendly, with all its lighting replaced with more energy efficient fittings. It will also de-clutter its ceiling services, creating cleaner lines. The mall’s new public toilets have received thoughtful attention, and again move away from the traditional functional space to a more inviting atmosphere that provides both comfort and privacy.
“This was a very important element of the project because we want to embody excellence at every touchpoint of the customer experience. Our new bathrooms will feel spa-like and include facilities for families and for assisted and disabled visitors,” says Blevins. And, in addition to the La Lucia Mall building receiving a new look and feel, the shopping centre has also taken the opportunity carry this through into a fresh new brand identity that reflects its reimagined space.
The La Lucia Mall upgrade project began in January 2019 and is scheduled for completion in October this year