Liberty Properties announced in 2008 that Sandton City would receive a R1.77 billion upgrade. Liberty Properties Chief Executive Samuel Ogbu envisaged the complex as South Africa's own Wall Street. The redevelopment will include the construction of an 60-storey office tower, new retail and office space and residential apartments. The extension will stretch to 30 000 m2 and the total complex will have a gross lettable area of 158 000 m2. London-based RTKL Associates have been chosen to design the complex. Sandton City is owned by Liberty Life (75% shares) and Pareto Ltd (25% shares).
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Sandton City was originally a 21 story concrete block and shopping centre that opened its doors in late 1973. It is a prime example of the concrete architecture of the time especially in South Africa, with the similar and successful style of the Golden Acre (Goue Akker) shopping centre preceding it in Cape Town. Other similar buildings included the then new International Terminal at what was then called Jan Smuts Airport in Johannesburg, The Carlton Centre and the new Rand Afrikaans University in Johannesburg as well as the JG Strijdom (now renamed the Hillbrow Tower) in Hillbrow, Central Johannesburg. All these buildings opened in the early 1970s. This style has been referred to as "Apartheid Architecture", as its strong and some would say ugly concrete style perhaps reflected the era of Grand Apartheid perfectly in its sheer brutality and scale, with most of these projects coming off the drawing boards in the late 1960s just after Justice Minister BJ Vorster became Prime Minister in 1966 following the assassination of Hendrik Verwoerd.
When Sandton City was opened in 1973 it had 120 stores and on two main levels and two additional levels with space for around 2500 cars, mainly outside the centre in open car parks. The opening of the centre at the time was revolutionary in terms of South African and Johannesburg retailing. Many people criticised the lack of external light in the centre, in contrast to Hyde Park Corner, a much smaller shopping centre around 10 minutes drive away that suffered heavily as a result (at least initially) after the opening of Sandton City. Its sheer scale and depth put it ahead of any other similar retail complex in Africa. The outer plaza to the east housed offices, branches of Nedbank and Barclays (later to become First National) as well as medical suites and a steak house. This plaza led east over a bridge to the then Sandton Library, medical clinic (a very humble building) and the Sandton Council building (the library being on the bottom floor.) Today Sandton City has taken over this area entirely and this area has become Mandela Square and the centre has over 295 stores and 10,000 parking bays, which are mainly undercover. In its early stages in the 70's the small lower floor housed a Post Office, initially divided into sections for Black and White customers and a Ster-Kinekor cinema complex (which is still there). The racial segregation of the Sandton City Post Office were removed around 1977, and reflected the beginning of the end of Grand Apartheid.
Sandton City Shopping Centre, with a large field to one side through which a road was quickly and rather badly constructed after 1973, effectively gave birth to a real city, which though it retains its old flavour in some ways has given birth to a little African Manhattan, complete with the offices of major international and South African banks, many hotels, as well as the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. It has effectively replaced the financial district of Central Johannesburg City some miles to the south, which once fulfilled this role. Central Johannesburg fell into decline by contrast, though this has now been arrested to some extent.
- Checkers Hyper - groceries
- Abercrombie & Fitch - clothing
- Woolworths - groceries, clothing
- Edgars - clothing, cosmetics
- Stuttafords - clothing, cosmetics
- Truworths - clothing, cosmetics
- Markhams - clothing
- Mr. Price - clothing
- Incredible Connection - information technology
- CNA - stationery
- Toys "R" Us - toys
- Builder's Warehouse - hardware
- Post Office
- Ster-Kinekor - movies
- Sharp Edge Sharp Shooter - Knives
- Louis Vuitton
- Hugo Boss
- Ed Hardy
- Rocco Barocco
- Sandown Travel
- iStore - Apple Premium Reseller
- The Raj (Indian)
- Trump's International Grill
- Global Wraps
- Steer's Burgers
- "Sandton City up for R1,7-billion upgrade". IOL. August 19, 2008.