Got US$120M to spare? Sam Levy’s Village is on sale

Got US$120 million lying around and wondering what to do with it? You could buy Sam Levy’s Village, which has just been put up for sale.

The open-air mall was the crown jewel in the empire of businessman Sam Levy, who died in 2012. Now the Levy family has engaged realtors Pam Golding to look for a buyer, and wants US$120 million for the property – paid offshore.

“Spread across 30 acres of prime land in the leafy suburb of Borrowdale, Harare, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a remarkable investment portfolio is now available to the astute investor with a unique vision and we are here to help with the acquisition process,” Pam Golding says.

The condition for an offshore sale may shut out many local buyers, such as pension funds. The price tag for Sam Levy’s Village translates to around US$1,000 per square metre, a significant premium on land in the area. In the current market, it’s unlikely that Pam Golding will be beating away crowds of willing buyers with a stick. The Levy family has also reportedly been on the market for a while trying to sell their property in Kadoma.

The complex was built in 1990, designed to mimic a British town, complete with the “Big Ben clock” and, at one time, guards in British “Bobby” police uniforms. But times have since changed. While Pam Golding says Sam Levy’s has had “a tenancy rate of 100% over the last four decades”, it has in fact suffered increasing voids over recent years. High rentals have left some spaces empty. Recently, Ster Kinekor announced it was moving out after the landlord decided it had better use for the space occupied by the cinema.

Around Sam Levy’s, the property outlook is shifting, presenting both risks and opportunities to whoever decides to buy. The retail space in Harare is heating up, as investors pile into property to preserve value. Borrowdale is a key target for developers. At least three banks – Ecobank, Forst Capital Bank and Stanbic – are building their headquarters nearby. NMB completed its own offices on Borrowdale Road in 2022. First Capital Bank’s new HQ will sit on a 2km stretch leading to Sam Levy’s, a lane that is seeing the construction of a large furniture retailer, an office block, and – no surprise – a couple of the standard fuel stations-plus-shops combo.

Further north of Sam Levy’s, a small shopping complex is being built next door, while a new shopping centre at Hogerty Hill is almost complete. Apart from Village Walk attached to Sam Levy’s and separately owned by Meikles, the more vibrant Highland Park has gone up 6km away, attracting strong traffic since it was opened in 2022. Terrace Africa built Highland Park for US$20 million and is turning a 200,000 square-metre part of Highlands into a mixed-use commercial and residential hub, Highland Park Precinct. The NRZ Pension Fund also plans to rebuild its Chisipite shopping complex.