A sod-turning ceremony marked the official start of construction on the new R1 billionThavhani Mall at Thavhani City in the bustling Limpopo town of Thohoyandou on Friday, 31 July 2015.

Azwindini Jeremiah Dingaan Ndou, representing the Premier of Limpopo, the honourable Stanley Mathabatha, together with executive mayor of the Vhembe District Municipality, Cllr Tshitereke Matibe; and, Mayor of the Thulamela Local Municipality, Cllr Grace Mahosi, turned the ceremonial first sod on the 50,000m2 regional shopping centre with the mall’s owners and developers, Thavhani Property Investments. The high-profile ceremony was attended by more than 250 business, government and traditional leaders.

The premier’s office and mayors lauded the development and investment by Thavhani Property Investments in the new world-class regional shopping centre destination for the area.

Thavhani Mall will be the anchor and catalyst development within a new, bigger commercial development node on a 27ha site in the Thulamela Municipality, dubbed Thavhani City. This is a key mega development as part of the Thulamela Municipality’s vision of securing city status by 2030.

Local businessman, Khosi Ramovha of Thavhani Property Investments, first had the vision for a regional mall in the area six years ago. He later roped in pre-eminent South African shopping centre developers and investors, Flanagan & Gerard Property Development and Investment, to help turn his vision into a reality.

Speaking at the sod-turning ceremony, Ramovha said: “This is a historic day not only for me, but for the area as our vision is going to be a reality. This is a huge milestone for us, as it finally marks the start of construction on the mall. It has been a long time coming, but the wait will be worth it because we will now have a stunning regional mall that will be part of the bigger Thavhani City nodal development.”

Patrick Flanagan, Executive Director of Flanagan & Gerard Property Development and Investment, a shareholder in Thavhani Property Investments, added: “Thavhani Mall is a major investment in the area and will be the largest shopping centre in Thohoyandou as well as the greater Thulamela Municipality. We are proud to be part of making this exciting mall development a reality.”

He added: “The people of Thulamela and surrounding areas can look forward to a great shopping and leisure destination in Thavhani Mall, with more than 106 retail stores, restaurants and service outlets part of its offering. There are also huge economic benefits to be had both in terms of retaining retail spend in the area and the creation of jobs during construction and when the mall opens in 2017.”

Flanagan said as a major new regional mall project and key economic development in Thohoyandou, Thavhani Mall had attracted the attention of JSE-listed property group, Vukile Property Fund. Vukile – a leading internally managed and predominantly retail focused South African Real Estate Investment Trust (SA Reit) – has secured a one third stake in Thavhani Mall. The stake will transfer to Vukile upon completion of the mall in 2017.

Commenting on the deal, Laurence Rapp, CEO of Vukile Property Fund, said: “This one third stake in the 50,000m2 Thavhani Mall is landmark deal for Vukile. As a major new regional shopping centre in Limpopo, Thavhani Mall will expand Vukile’s strategic exposure to the retail sector. In addition, we are pleased to be partnering with a developer of the calibre of Flanagan & Gerard.”

The development of Thavhani Mall will take up approximately 12ha of the 27ha site, which is in a prime location at the intersection of the R524 road to Louis Trichardt and the road to Sibasa. The mall is set to be the first step and anchor development of an exciting surrounding mixed-use node, with future developments including drive-through restaurants, motor dealerships, an office park, big-box retail and other commercial developments.

Thavhani Property Investments have made a commitment that most of the labour involved in the construction of Thavhani Mall would be sourced from the local community. Local jobs would also be prioritised when the mall opens.

The double level mall, which will be home to Thohoyandou’s first escalators, will have ample free parking bays to cater for Thohoyandou’s growing number of car commuters. It is already 75% let with confirmed anchors including Woolworths, Edgars, Pick n Pay and Super Spar. Other major secured tenants include Truworths, Foschini, Markham, Hi-fi Corp, Spitz, Mr Price, Mr Price Home, Pep, Ackermans, Jet, Standard Bank, Nedbank​, Capitec, ​Shoe City, Miladys, Legit, Clicks, Link, Roots, Studio 88, Exact, ​Cross Trainer, John Craig, TotalSports, Sportscene, Bogart Man, Spur and Panarotti’s.