Hyde Park Corner’s illustrious 50-year history began before it opened in November 1969 – in the dreams of a young visionary property developer, Cecil Behrmann, who served as a police reservist driving around the northern suburbs at night on guard duty. On these drives he began to recognise and map the potential paths of Johannesburg’s expansion into the north.
Cecil and his cousin Cyril purchased the farm where Hyde Park is now situated and partnered with Murray & Roberts Construction to develop the mall as the first fully enclosed shopping centre in South Africa. Checkers (then owned by Greatermans) and Murray & Roberts who needed office space, were the major tenants. Stauch Vorster Architects designed the centre, which opened with 72 shops on two levels, basement and open parking, and office space.
Peter Behrmann, Cecil’s son and past CEO of Hyprop, explains the style of Hyde Park Corner. “The mall width and the centre design were strongly influenced by Cecil, who had travelled widely and understood the need for intimacy – he introduced sculpture, mosaic and murals to create a community centre.”
Peter qualified as an architect and after post-graduate studies, joined the family property business in 1971, which included managing Hyde Park Corner. He says, “I learned many things from my father and his cousin including merchandising and intimate character. Our strategy was to be smaller than other malls opening in the area, yet more upmarket. We were located at the epicentre of a wealthy clientele. We selected specialist retailers as tenants with a large percentage of excellent fashion and décor stores, coffee shops and restaurants. Each time a new tenant arrived, we ensured that the interior and shopfront spoke our design language and added new strength to the centre.” Substantial additions and alterations have been made over the years, keeping the centre fresh and relevant.
Eight of Hyde Park Corner’s tenants have been trading since the early days when the centre opened. David Gilson, owner of Carlton Hair, is inspired by the creativity and innovation in the studio that originally started in Hyde Park Corner. “When I started, I could never have known that one day the glossy baton would be passed to so many forward-thinking industry insiders who work so hard to create authentic moments of representation.”
Chris for Men’s Jean Kogel says, “In quintessential barbershop style, our sign hangs adjacent to the wall in the same spot it’s been hanging for 50 years. My father, Chris Kogel, opened Chris for Men in 1969, and 12 years later I joined him – but only once I had proven myself worthy of the trade in a gruelling apprenticeship.”
Kogel adds, “I believe there’s something special about spaces like ours that outlast the ebbs and flows of pop culture, that have seen the rise and fall, and rise again, of the short-back-and-sides. After 50 years in the business, what we offer at Chris for Men is timeless: trust and community, and a very close shave, made the good old-fashioned way.”
Galleon Pharmacy maintains the personal touch of the pharmacies of yesteryear. Rakesh Seeberath of Galleon says, “With over 600 accounts and 50 years of loyal families trusting the doctors and pharmacists at Galleon with their health, it’s more than just another errand to run. It’s a social visit, where customers who’ve spent generations building relationships gather to see friends behind the counter, bringing with them intimate details of their lives. We represent an integration of old world and new, and in 50 years, I believe we haven’t lost our charm.”
McCullagh & Bothwell is a family business that was established in 1896, and has been at Hyde Park Corner, dressing school children and offering bespoke menswear, for 50 years. David Walker, third-generation proprietor, says, “Our longest-standing customer was brought into the store by his father to be fitted for his first school blazer when he was six. Ninety years later he is still a loyal client. This is testimony to the prestige and the distinction of four generations of McCullagh & Bothwell.”
Walker’s sons grew up packing shoe boxes in the storeroom during school holiday, and today, together with their father, they have ushered in a new era while paying homage to old-world quality, tradition and value.
Nu Metro has been delivering the popcorn-scented excitement of a visit to the movies at Hyde Park Corner for 37 years.
Hyde Park Corner has consistently catered for the enjoyment of an aspiring market, with over 500 foremost international brands within 130 speciality retail stores, while nine restaurants provide a diversity of tastes and occasions from fine dining to one of the most famous Chinese restaurants in Joburg.
The tenant mix offers art, antiques, fashion, homeware, superb craftsmanship, quality and luxury, combined with fun, while also providing a range of medical, dental and health professionals, banks, cinemas, travel agencies and other services for customer convenience.
Hyde Park Corner is celebrating its 50th birthday by giving shoppers a chance to win R50 000 in shopping vouchers every week until 1 December. For more info go to https://www.hydeparkcorner.co.za/upcoming-events.
For more information on what’s happening at Hyde Park Corner, visit www.hydeparkcorner.co.za or on Facebook @HydeParkC or Twitter @HPCHydePark.