Merino Mall - A boon for the community

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GK CRONJE

1 November 2022

The vision for the mall includes making a meaningful contribution to the local economy on an ongoing basis. In this regard, it has also created 450 permanent job opportunities.

Suzuki Ermelo (WEB) 22 September 2020.jp

After 15 months of construction and an even longer development period, Merino Mall opened its doors on 27 October to the community of Ermelo and surrounds in Mpumalanga. At 28,600m2, it has become the first shopping centre of its substantial size to be developed within a 100-kilometre radius in the area. The Merino Mall development is owned by Moolman Group and Abland and is located on the landmark 11-hectare site that has always been central to community life in the area, the former Ermelo Showgrounds. Positioned for local shoppers, as well as the many commuters travelling to and through Ermelo from surrounding rural and small towns in the region, Merino Mall is located on the corners of the N2 and N11 freeways, close to the N17 and within walking distance of the Ermelo CBD.

According to the property developers, the small regional mall has been developed with the future of this mining and agricultural area in mind and with family and community at its heart. Sönke Moolman-Pautz, retail director at Moolman Group, comments, “When you add such an impressive mall to a great community, you have the perfect recipe for sustainable mutual success. We look forward to serving our shoppers and providing a safe and enjoyable place where everyone can meet and socialise.” Merino Mall’s curated retail mix comprises 90 stores with anchors Checkers, Pick n Pay, Woolworths and Clicks, as well as the first Crazy Plastics and Dis-Chem in the area. Other retail firsts for Ermelo include Cape Union Mart, PNA, @Home, Queenspark, Old Khaki, Crazy Pets and Refinery. The shopping centre also has a fashion node, banking facilities and restaurants.

Designed by MDS Architecture, the exterior of Merino Mall is inspired by the original showground barn structures, with the barn shape becoming a key design feature. The existing barn structure was retained and incorporated into the new building. The sandstone found on the site has also been used for several building features, including facades, reflecting its unique setting. While the architecture and design features pay tribute to the site’s history, the centre is modern and incorporates elements to ensure a sustainable operation. Merino Mall has its own solar photovoltaic (PV) plant that produces green energy and the mall can trade during load shedding. The property even has a sewer treatment plant that will recycle grey water back into the building to achieve water savings. Weaving local culture into the fabric of the mall, it features several artworks from local artists who participated in an art competition held by the developers. Shoppers will also be able to connect to the fast fibre Wi-Fi network. Merino Mall offers 1 743 parking bays in an on-grade, safe and secure parking area, with reserved parking for shoppers with special needs close to entrances. It also includes a taxi rank. Construction of Merino Mall began in July 2021, led by the main contractor Mike Buyskes Construction.

The construction phase created 750 jobs, primarily for local contractors and workers. The vision for the mall includes making a meaningful contribution to the local economy on an ongoing basis. In this regard, it has also created 450 permanent job opportunities. As part of the development process, the mall’s owners opened an online jobs portal where local job seekers could register, and their applications were made available to the mall’s retailers. The portal was also used to employ within the centre management team and created a platform for service providers to tender for various contractual opportunities in and around the centre. During the construction period, a considerable challenge was the steep slope of the mall’s site, which required extensive bulk earthworks but resulted in the mall’s superb visibility and accessibility. Improvements were also made to its surrounding roads for all road users, making the mall easy to access.

“We are delighted to open Merino Mall for the community of Ermelo. It is beautiful and convenient, with an exciting variety of retail and restaurants, a fun play area for children and a great experience for all. It complements, enhances and supports the retail offering in Ermelo, and we are confident it will be an excellent asset for its community,” says Merino Mall general manager Morgan Lee van der Walt.