The Constantia Emporium Opening Ceremony held on Saturday 23 November marked the end of a very long journey and the start of a new one for the Solomon Family Trust – the owners of the land the new high-end shopping center is built on.
The minister of public works and infrastructure, Patricia de Lille, who spoke at the opening ceremony held in the new center’s parking basement, captured the moment best.
“As we acknowledge our past, we now have an opportunity to design our own future and this is what the Solomon family has done. They decided to design their own future with their own land. And I can only say, well done.” Haijie Solomon and Saba Owen Solomon bought Lots 10 and 11 of a Constantia farm named Sillery for 340 and 600 pounds sterling respectively in 1902.
Descendants of the Solomon family called this piece of land home until 1960, when – under the Group Areas Act of Apartheid legislation – 30 households were given five years to sell their homes and move out. The family of farmers and entrepreneurs ended up scattered across the Cape Flats, Grassy Park and Retreat. Rashaad Solomon shared the family’s land claim journey with guests at the ceremony. He said they had no choice but to pick up the pieces and to build new lives.
“We struggled, but we survived. We remembered the life in Constantia and prayed that one day we would return and this day has arrived.”
However, it took lots of perseverance and many court battles to get there. The trust finally regained the title deeds to the land in 2012, 16 years after the trust first submitted its land claim to the Land Claims Commission. Mayor Dan Plato, who also attended the opening ceremony, said the Solomon family’s journey was a testament to what could happen with other restitution cases. “As I listened to your family’s incredible history, I was reminded of all the documentation, the meetings. I saw all the tears, the frustration. “I am glad to see the end of the road of your long journey and I wish you well on the next one,” said Plato.
The 15 000m² shopping center officially opens on Tuesday 26 November. It has 26 shops, including Woolworths, Clicks, MTN and various restaurants, banks and a floor of office space.
Checkers, who have walked this path with the Solomons family as their business partner since 2006, is the center’s anchor tenant. More than 140 new jobs were created with the Checkers store’s opening, and 98 of the total store complement of 186 are women. The store will be managed by branch manager Adrian Saunders. “Checkers Constantia is a flagship store and we are so excited to provide our shoppers with a fantastic new store and a world-class shopping experience,” Saunders said.
The store sources many of its products from local owner-run suppliers including Schoon Bakery, Exotic Taste, the Nut Man, Soet Cakes and My Sugar.
Store design enhancements include wider aisles and seamless floors that allow trolleys to move with limited noise and fresh departments were designed as dedicated destination areas, offering customers an artisanal market experience within the supermarket environment.
Venture Workspace, a full turnkey solution for existing businesses and start-ups, rents the entire first floor of the center which covers approximately 1 200m². Louis Fourie, the director of Venture Workspace, says the center’s convenient location just off the M3 with easy access to the highway, makes it not only attractive to shoppers, but also offers suburban co-working spaces as an alternative to the CBD.
“The center is very accessible, so it’s no fuss for people to make a quick stop en route home or into town. Traffic is such a huge issue in Cape Town and fighting through main roads on the way to pick up dinner is not ideal after a long day of work. This center will add huge value to the community by way of its accessibility.”
To read more about the new upmarket Checkers store in Constantia Emporium, click here.
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