Opened in September 2001, Gateway Theatre of Shopping is coming of age. Celebrating 21 years at the forefront of retail and entertainment, the mall invites shoppers to join in the fun and look forward to even more exciting times ahead.
September’s a month of celebrations at Gateway. Visitors can expect spontaneous activations and the chance to recall the wonderful memories they’ve made at the super-regional centre.
“So much has happened at the mall over the past 21 years,” says Gateway GM, Feysel Potgieter. “We’ve hosted international artists, surfing competitions, skating competitions, record-breaking charity events and been a venue for hot dates. Couples have been married here; a few babies have even been delivered at Gateway.
“Everyone seems to have a fond memory of something they’ve enjoyed at Gateway,” says Feysel. “To celebrate this, we’ve created the interactive Museum of Memories at the Expo Explore court.”
MUSEUM OF MEMORIES
The Museum of Memories is a captivating walk-through experience reminding visitors about Gateway’s origins and 21 years as a “theatre of shopping”. Older visitors will remember the Tony Hawk Skate Park and D-Rex standing wave, while younger visitors will marvel at the experience virtually.
“Celebrating how far we’ve come – from an idea in a field of sugarcane to one of the country’s biggest, most successful retail attractions, is something worth sharing,” says Feysel.
The landlord, Old Mutual Properties (OMP), pioneered the vision of Gateway in the mid-1990s when Moreland Properties began what was a revolutionary development on the uMhlanga Ridge. “The initial plan was for a modest retail centre.”
In a bold move which demonstrated staggering confidence in the potential of the New Town precinct and greater uMhlanga Ridge, OMP started construction of the 118 000m² mall at a cost of around R1,4-billion in 1998.
“Fifty-two of the original tenants who started trading when we opened in 2001 are still here today,” says Feysel. “We’re nothing without our tenants, so, as a tribute to them, the Museum of Memories includes a Wall of Recognition where we pay tribute to these 52 original tenants.”
Artistically constructed as a “2 and a 1”, the Museum of Memories opens in the Expo Explore area from September 7. Entrance is free and visitors can browse through the exhibit during trading hours.
A NEW LOOK FOR THE FUTURE
Scaffolding is going up as the first phase of a major internal refurbishment gets underway in mid-September. The main spine of the building will be completely remodelled in phases over the next
“It’s going to look magnificent, and new suspended features, flooring and facades will give Gateway a fresh look. There will be some inconvenience for a while, but the results will be well worth it,” says Feysel.
IN THE BEGINNING
When Gateway Theatre of Shopping opened 21 years ago, it promised to be “everything that you could want, more than you could imagine”.
As a retail concept, Old Mutual Properties’ MD at the time, Ian Watt, championed the development of what was going to be far more than just a regular mall. With a staggering 40% of the space dedicated to entertainment, Gateway introduced “shoppertainment” to South Africa.
Some naysayers predicted its rapid decline, others were dismayed, but it didn’t take long before going to Gateway became “the thing to do”. There were so many reasons to spend more time there. To bring the kids, it was somewhere you could spend the entire day, lose track of time and have fun. The relaxed vibe at Gateway is due in no small part to the way the building and precinct are designed.
ROCKING THE RIDGE FOR 21 YEARS
The mall’s been a magnet for the rich and famous since it opened – and we’re not just talking shopaholics.
When Black Friday became “a thing” in SA, bargain-hunters flooded to Gateway to take advantage of the specials – but that wasn’t the most manic time the current marketing team recalls.
It was the Trolls! On a whistle-stop national tour, over 16 000 fans lined up over four days to get close to their heroes Branch and Poppy.
Mark Shuttleworth delivered a speech at the Science Centre, Skrillex played at the Wave House, and Chris Brown has strolled through the mall.
The World of Illusions shattered previous records and the marketing move to pop-up, high-quality activations is proving popular. Currently adding colour and intrigue to profile pics, stories and posts is the exquisite Bloom Room. Up until early October, the intricate floralscapes will provide breath-taking backdrops for spontaneous snaps and professional shoots.
With the balmy weather and influx of holidaymakers, Gateway moves into top gear over the festive season. Dressing up with festive lights, spectacular fun holiday scenarios and virtual experiences, last year was Gateway’s busiest December to date.
Gateway hosts around 25-million+ visitors annually which works out to over two million visitors a month, with this number swelling to around 3,2-million in December.
Gateway Theatre of Shopping has taken on a life of its own over the past 21 years, with remodelling, upgrading and extensions. The two biggest expansions were completed in 2008 and 2018. OMP invested R250-million in extensions to the South Mall in 2008, and the Gateway Hotel and Virgin Active node were developed ahead of the 2010 World Cup.
To increase capacity, the new Woolworths node was created in 2018 and the food court relocation included an outdoor area that floods the indoor space with natural light. The Palm Court entrance from the iconic Palm Boulevard was completely remodelled with the two-level Starbucks now acting as a focal point.
Investing approximately R700-million in this development project, Gateway’s current retail footprint is over 175 000m² and the third largest mall in South Africa.
A SHOPPING AND ENTERTAINMENT DELIGHT
Opening with just 117 stores ready to do business, 52 of those original tenants are still trading today. The mall has attracted top international and local brands, making it a convenient one-stop destination for discerning shoppers who travel from around KwaZulu-Natal to access wider ranges, flagship offerings, niche brands and a world-class experience.
International trends in the “affordable luxury” category make Gateway a priority retail destination. Fashionistas can shop at Zara, Ted Baker, EA7, Armani Exchange and Versace Jeans to name a few. In fragrances and beauty, Skins Cosmetics, Dior, and ARC are on trend.
There’s no reason to leave, with over 70 eateries at Gateway, ranging from fast food to sit-down restaurants indoors and out.
Hosting international brands is a feather in Gateway management’s cap, as the facility has to pass stringent environmental scrutiny before it is given the green light.
Even though Gateway’s footprint has increased by over 50%, the mall has cut its energy consumption by 30% over the past 21 years.
In pursuit of this goal, almost everything in the mall has been replaced – from lighting to sanitaryware, escalators, lifts, and air chillers.
Even though it operates on the scale of a small city, Gateway can trade through electricity and water disruptions thanks to solar panels and back-up generators providing essential services. Grey water is recycled for use in gardens and other non-potable applications.
Gateway works closely with its tenants to sort recyclable waste at source in a voluntary programme.
Food waste is managed on-site and composted to create fertiliser for plants on the property.
CELEBRATE WITH GATEWAY – WIN A R5 000 SHOPPING VOUCHER
Join in Gateway’s birthday celebrations and stand a chance of winning a shopping spree worth
R5 000 to shop till you drop at Gateway Theatre of Shopping.
Closing date is September 30. Enter now and celebrate in style. T’s & C’s apply.