27 Boxes opens in Melville (gallery)

When rumours first emerged two years ago that Melville’s derelict Faan Smit Park in Johannesburg would be transformed into a retail centre constructed from shipping containers, residents raised objections to stall the development.

But Citiq Property Developers, which is behind the development called 27 Boxes, stuck to its guns and acquired Joburg Artists Market, which had a 30-year lease on the park, and proceeded with the master plan of a 2 600m2 retail centre. As Citiq MD and brain behind the development, Arthur Blake, puts it: “It has been a long process and we have fought very hard to get here.”

Blake said the idea of using shipping containers was inspired by London’s Box Park, where a pop-up mall was created from shipping containers. The long process also included dealing with cost overruns, a month delay in construction to address objections and postponing the opening of 27 Boxes, located on Third and Fourth Avenue.

The completion of the R30 million development was speedy, given the developers started breaking ground and stacking more than 80 shipping containers only in September last year.

Initially, Citiq eyed an opening for February, but this proved to be unrealistic due to the sheer scale of the development. The shipping containers were assembled within two weeks, but it took months to complete the finishes.

“We saved on bricks and mortar, money and two-thirds of construction time as we used shipping containers. We also underestimated the work and difficulties of this project,” said Citiq CEO Paul Lapham.

However, 27 Boxes is open for business and, to date, 80% of the stores are trading. A total of 102 stores are available, with an average size of 27m2. Fashion retailers, an art studio and gallery, a bakery and restaurants make up some of the tenant mix.




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