WERNHIL PARK - CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF GREAT HISTORY
August 1990 saw the country’s first ventures into a one-stop shopping experience with the opening of Wernhil Park in Windhoek’s central business district. Combining the first names of Werner and Hildegard List - the late senior shareholders of the Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group - the Wernhil Park complex opened 25 years ago and has, over the years, undergone three phases in which shops and parking facilities were added.
Sylvia Rusch, Marketing & Public Relations Manager of Broll Namibia - a subsidiary of the O&L Group and the managing agent of Wernhil Park - says: “Founding President and Father of the Nation, Dr. Sam Nujoma cut the ribbon at the festive ceremony in August 1990 to mark the official opening of the brand new Wernhil Park Shopping Mall. At that stage, and from a Namibian perspective, it was a massive ‘one-stop-shopping complex’ housing 54 shops and other businesses and had been completed two months ahead of schedule. The flagship of the complex was and still is the Model Super Store, today known as Pick n Pay.”
When looking back at the history of Wernhil Park, Phase Two was completed in July 2007, while Phase Three commenced in May 2010 and was completed in August 2011. The Ohlthaver & List Group invested N$ 79,8 million in Phase Two while Phase Three added more than 16,000m2 of prime retail space and approximately 800 additional parking bays at a total of N$ 235 million.
Wernhil Park has grown its number of shops from 54 to 86 shops and recorded a growth from approximately 18,000 square meters to its current size of 36,500 square metres. Today Wernhil Park attracts more than 1.2 million feet on a monthly basis, making it the highest foot-traffic building in Namibia. Long term tenants in the mall since the original opening in 1990 include Pick n Pay; Medisun Pharmacy; Ackermans; Woolworths; CAN; Jet; INS Wiener; Optic Exclusive; Standard Bank, and Nedbank.
Rusch: “The Wernhil Park development started in 1988. The reason for this project was the CBD master plan of the City of Windhoek which included the Post Street Mall development as well as the trees which were planted in the middle of Independence Avenue. The City of Windhoek was looking for a ‘magnet’ which could be developed at the end of the planned Post Street Mall along Mandume Ndemufayo Avenue. Mr. List saw the opportunity to build the second shopping centre in Windhoek as well as finding premises for the Model Super Store which was along Independence Avenue at that stage. The O&L Group was a trendsetter as, shortly after their investment, other investors saw opportunities and the Sanlam Building, Mutual Platz and Channel Life building were constructed – all more or less at the same time.”
Mr. List already had the foresight of Wernhil’s future expansion 25 years ago when he requested the project engineers in 1989 to allow a certain area of the structure of the original mall to carry several additional levels. At that stage the idea of adding a hotel and/or office component to Wernhil was the main reason for Mr. List’s request.
Rusch concludes by mentioning that the main recipe for the past success of Wernhil Park has been its ability to maintain a competitive edge by keeping up with market trends and the needs of the consumer. The year 2016 will see the commencement of a further exciting expansion to Wernhil Park, which would make Wernhil the single biggest retail mall in Namibia by the end of 2017.