new GWERU flagship site

Puma Energy Zimbabwe continues to grow its service station foot print by investing and developing sites in key and strategic locations. The most recent development has been the Gweru Megawatt service station developed in partnership with ZEIPF. Located at the entrance of the Megawatt Mall, the Puma service station welcomes both the weary traveller and the local shopper. Cydwell Chitewe, General Manager for Puma Zimbabwe said that the new site becomes the flagship site in the Gweru market and added, “In defining the layout for the site it was key that the site is accessible to transient traffic as well as traffic coming to and from the mall.

In addition the back court will be developed into a fully-fledged convenience store offering convenience items and grab-and-go” food service”. Whilst the project was developed and managed by ZEIPF, Puma Energy provided technical expertise in layout, design and equipment. The service station meets international standards in term of environment and safety using double-walled underground tanks and incorporating remote filling of tanks that give uninterrupted service on the forecourt as an additional upside to the lowered risk of fire during deliveries.

GWERU MEGAWATT SHOPPING COMPLEX NEARS COMPLETION …ENDORSES INVESTOR CONFIDENCE IN THE CITY Text by Michael Nott Photos, plans, drawings and renderings by TAJ Mugedeza Architects Additional photos by Structure & Design

The Zesa Electricity Industry Pension Fund (ZEIPF) has recently invested around $14 million in a brand new office block and shopping mall situated just outside the Gweru Central Business District along the main Harare-Bulawayo highway, called the Gweru Megawatt Shopping Complex. The project has generated a great deal of excitement as it is set to be a major shot in the arm for the region, providing employment opportunities both during the construction process and after completion, and helping to significantly boost economic activity in the area.

The complex will be made up of a three storey office block situated towards the back of the site in a semi-private space, a double-storey modern shopping mall with ample interior parking space, and a fuel/service station which will help to draw people into the site from the main highway. The combined available space will be around 7,300 sq m, with the main anchor store – Pick n Pay – is scheduled to open for trading in early December. The service station – Puma Energy – is already operational, catering for traffic along the highway as well as for patrons of the complex. The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) had outgrown their current premises located within the Gweru CBD and they had been forced to spread their operations to various smaller satellite locations. ZETDC wanted to consolidate their business operations into a single more convenient location as well as establishing a new Head Office for the Midlands region.

The project was designed by TAJ Mugedeza Architects and took approximately two years to reach completion. The project was overseen by Felymas International Consultants who were the Chartered Project Managers and Construction Consultants. The project ran slightly over schedule mainly due to difficulties encountered with procurement challenges and some adaptations to the original design requested by PnP to bring the supermarket section into line with their new retail outlet specifications. Drawcard Enterprises were engaged as the main construction contractors.

While ZETDC will be the main tenants for the office complex it has also been mooted that ZIMRA will take up some of the available office space. There will also be a banking hall for the convenience of ZESA customers to pay their bills and make account enquiries.

ZEIPF recently purchased a stand of approximately 1.5 hectares adjacent to the Gweru Fire Station with a view towards future development and investment for the Pension Fund. The ZEIPF has already made similar investments in property developments, like the Parklands Shopping Mall in Bulawayo and the Arlington Distribution Centre along the Seke Road in Harare. The site was then earmarked to be developed into the new office complex and since the location was ideal it was decided to incorporate the shopping mall into the project. The shopping mall would help to optimise the returns on the investment by providing retail premises beneficial to the City as well as providing income for the fund in the form of rental incomes.

ZEIPF engaged the local firm TAJ Mugedeza Architects to draw up the plans and specifications for the new development. The entire design process took around six months, including consultations with Pick n Pay who will be the main anchor tenant for the shopping mall. PnP had design specifications for their new supermarket to ensure that all their stores across the country have a similar look and feel and to create the optimum shopping experience for their customers. In line with PnP’s new generation of retail outlets, like the new shop at Village Walk in Harare, they specified all the design codes and standards like the tiles, paint colours, air-con requirements, lighting and so forth. This did entail some changes to the initial design as the project progressed.

PnP already have an older retail outlet within the Gweru CBD but it had become oversubscribed with customers feeling frustrated by the long queues at the tills and aggravated by the haphazard presence of informal traders and vendors blocking the pavements outside the supermarket. The new mall is laid out with shops ranging in size from 35 sqm (specifically designed to accommodate smaller, informal traders) through to 220 sqm with the supermarket occupying 2,400 sqm. Moreover the larger shops have been designed in a more flexible way so that they can easily be divided into 2 or 3 smaller shops. Other tenants are set to include Nandos, Econet, a range of shops and a restaurant linking the office complex and the shopping mall. Lighting for the mall in the evenings as well as for the parking area and access roads will be supplied by solar power.

Gweru City Council Planning Services were fully supportive of the project as it endorses their plans to expand the CBD in a south westerly direction along Josiah Tongogara Avenue. It is also in line with the Council’s policy to decentralise services and create new business centres. In order to provide easy access to the complex a bus stop has been provided opposite the main entrance to the mall. The complex is also situated on the public transport (ET) route from Mkoba Township into the CBD. In line with current international trends the design of the complex has incorporated certain ‘green’ credentials.

All the external lighting is solar powered to reduce energy consumption. In addition the offices have windows that can be opened or sliding doors onto balconies to allow for natural ventilation and natural lighting during the day. The architects have paid homage to our rich Zimbabwean heritage by incorporating substantial swathes of face brick in the facade, echoing the traditional masonry work found at Great Zimbabwe and other archaeological sites across the country. They have also included a ‘slanted’ structural design in the entrance to the office building and lobby areas, which according to the architects reflects our ‘dynamic future’. In addition a glass curtain wall in this part of the building helps to reveal views of the existing external scenery and the hills across the road acknowledging the building’s unique setting in the landscape.


 


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