KILLARNEY CENTRE (MALL)
Riviera Road and Killarney Avenue
Johannesburg, Transvaal (Gauteng ["kow-ting"]) Province, South Africa

Africa's first mall-type shopping complex was built in the northern environs of Johannesburg. Development of the site was initiated by Isadore W. Schlesinger, an American-born insurance / real estate tycoon and media mogul.

He acquired 103 acres, located 2 miles north of the central city, and created Killarney, an upper-class, residential suburb. 13.4 acres were utilized for the offices and works of African Film Productions, Limited. The Killarney Film Studios opened for business in 1916 and were soon established as the nation's preeminent motion picture production facility.

Mr. Schlesinger passed away in 1949, with his son John taking control of the business enterprise. In the mid-1960s, a section of the studio lot was redeveloped as a small, open-air shopping mall. 

KILLARNEY CENTRE was built by John Schlesinger, under the auspices of his Townview Estates realty company. The complex, designed by modernist architect Monty Sack, encompassed 2 levels. The first was populated by retail stores and sidewalk cafes, all fronting on a large, open court. The upper level housed leased office spaces.

The original mall conveyed an informal, village-like ambience. It was anchored by a single-level Woolworths variety store and included a bakery, butcher shop, coffee shop, public library and post office. A 5-storey-high Clock Tower stood in the open court.

The first of many expansions enlarged the retail hub over the entirety of the 13-acre site. The Killarney Film Studios were relocated 2 miles northeast, with the original facility being demolished. 
   
A South Wing, and Checkers supermarket, were added to the mall along with an East Wing. This housed a 3-storey Office Tower on its upper floors. The entirety of the complex was enclosed and climate-controlled, which required demolition of the original mall's Clock Tower

When the 12 million rand renovation was completed in 1972, KILLARNEY MALL encompassed approximately 150,700 leasable square feet. Its newly-enlarged car park could accommodate nearly 1,000 autos.

The De Villiers Graaff (M1) Motorway, under construction since 1962, was extended to the vicinity of KILLARNEY MALL and opened to traffic around the time of the enclosing renovation. 

Now a so-called "minor regional centre", KILLARNEY MALL would find it difficult to compete with the super-sized, fully-enclosed shopping hubs that were being built on the outskirts of "Joburg". 

The first of these was SANDTON CITY {3.9 miles north}, which opened -in 1973- with 538,200 leasable square feet. ROSEBANK MALL {1.4 miles northwest} began business in 1976. Next came EASTGATE CENTRE {3.9 miles east}, which was dedicated in 1979, and WESTGATE CENTRE {12 miles west}, whose first stores opened in 1985. 
  
A second enlargement of KILLARNEY MALL was completed in the 1990s. A Southeast Wing was added, which included Lower and Upper Levels. These were linked via a set of escalators in a domed Rotunda. The Lower ("Banking Mall") Level housed the 5-screen Nu Metro Theatres megaplex. 

During said remodeling, existing store spaces and mallways were reconfigured. Moreover, the south end supermarket, now operating as a Pick 'n Pay, was enlarged into a 1-level (57,700 square foot) operation. 

KILLARNEY MALL now encompassed approximately 400,200 leasable square feet. It housed 97 stores and services, as well as several office, medical and dental tenants.

A subsequent renovation, done in 2001-2002, reconfigured the north end of the complex. A multilevel car park (the Riviera Road Parkade) was built. A mall-connected Toyota dealership, petrol filling station and 1-level (22,400 square foot) Clicks Pharmacy were built.  
  
Killarney Properties sold the mall in April 2001. A joint venture of Pretoria-based Octodec Investments and Gold Edge Properties assumed ownership and enlisted Pretoria's City Property as a leasing and management agent.

The new proprietors started a refurbishment and expansion of KILLARNEY MALL in September 2004. Over 59,000 square feet of new retail area was added as part of the 90 million rand project. 

The existing Clicks pharmacy was relocated into a 1-level (9,063 square foot) store, which opened in April 2005. The original location was expanded with a second floor. It re-opened, as a 2-level (46,300 square foot) Edgars, on October 27, 2005.    
  
A second parking structure, the Killarney Avenue Parkade, was built along the west side of the complex. Upon its completion, in November 2005, the mall's parking accommodations had been expanded to 1,400. The Woolworths was also enlarged into a 1-level (52,500 square foot) store.

KILLARNEY MALL now encompassed 505,300 leasable square feet. This figure took in the mall's 117,300 square feet of leased office space. There were 100 stores, 55 office suites and 15 medical and dental practices.

A 7 million rand face lift was done between November 2010 and July 2011. The exterior of the complex was refurbished, new roofing installed and the existing movie theatre remodeled and renamed. It re-opened, as the Avalon Group CineCentre, in May 2011. The new theatre was a state-of-the-art, 3D and Dolby Sound venue.

Sources:

http://www.sahistory.org.za / "A History of the South African Film Industry timeline 1895-2003"
http://imaginemag.co.za / "Killarney Film Studios, Johannesburg's First Motion Picture Industry Giant" / Deborah Painter
"Urban Continuum" / Tahira Toffa
http://sandtoncity.com/history-of-the-centre.htm
http://www.eastgateshops.com
http://www.westgate.co.za 
https://www.leadingarchitecture.co.za
https://www.eprop.co.za / "The Refurbished & Refreshed Killarney Mall Is Complete" / October 2005
https://www.eprop.co.za / "Revamping Killarney Mall" / May 2011
http://killarneymall.co.za
https://www.octodec.co.za / Octodec Investments, Limited
https://www.gautrain.co.za / Gautrain Management Agency