CULTURE

City of Athens heads to The Mall

Have you been to The Mall? That’s the question everybody’s asking since the city’s newest attraction for both young and old opened its doors on November 25. A place for desperate housewives, family hordes, teenage mall rats and high school lovebirds on their first date? Much more than that, for The Mall Athens spreads over four levels, offering about 200 outlets for commercial and entertainment use in a spacious, luminous area covering about 58,500 square meters with 90,000 square meters of underground space. This is one of the largest shopping centers of its kind in the Balkan region. Private affair Built on private investment estimated at more than 320 million euros, The Mall Athens was developed by LAMDA Olympia Village, a subsidiary of LAMDA Development. The new center is expected to create jobs for about 2,500 people. While critics might argue that The Mall emerges as a towering, yet impersonal, space, fans may retort that given this addition, the city of Athens begins a new chapter in its urban and suburban commercial history. Indeed, the city looks quite different these days: The freshly developed City Link, for instance, where the well-groomed Attica department store co-exists alongside landmark luxury houses, such as Hermes, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Salvatore Ferragamo, has created an exciting city-center hub for shopping. The Mall could be its suburban response. As befits any 21st century commercial construction, The Mall offers a series of services, including easy access for those with special needs, a play area for children, babysitting service and special children’s care area, first-aid area and ATM machines. Opening hours are customer-friendly with stores operating Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Restaurants, cafes and cinemas welcome clients Monday to Sunday until the early hours, while parking areas operate from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. (with a capacity of 2,065 spaces). At The Mall, well-known names are joined by new entries in the local market. French Fnac, for instance, makes its Greek debut here, while rival – in the electric appliances market – Kotsovolos is present with a megastore. What’s on the fashion menu? Plenty of mid-range selections from local and international brands, such as Esprit and Promod on the one hand, along with more upmarket labels, such as BCBG Max Azria. Also, the ubiquitous British Marks & Spencer, as well as British fresh arrival Monsoon (another outlet opened recently at the Eleftherios Venizelos Airport). There is also a developing Spanish war, namely among reigning Zara, rival Mango and emerging Sfera. Greek apparel companies are also present in the window displays of Artisti Italiani, Sarah Lawrence, BSB and Raxevsky, for instance, while the Greek designer community is represented solely by one house, Kathy Heyndels. On the men’s front, labels include Oxford Company, Glou (both local brands), Nautica and Celio, while the sports options are Maui & Sons, Frozen Wave, Intersport and Footlocker, among others. Fast-selling accessories at The Mall include leather goods and jewelry, with diverse stores such as Furla-Coccinelle, Lollipops, Longchamp, Tie Rack, Tous, Accessorize, Swarovski and Greek brands Folli-Follie and Alexi Andriotti Accessories. Entertainment Once the shopping frenzy is over, get ready for more fun at The Mall’s Third Level. This is where you can go the cinema (Village Cinemas currently offer 14 screens), take the children to the Aidonakia amusement park and enjoy coffee, drinks and meals. Among others, Flocafe battles with Starbucks, while Goody’s wrestles with KFC and Pizza Fan. Also, coming up is the first installment of Hooters, an American restaurant chain specializing in staff members in scanty sexy attire. How does one get to The Mall? Plenty of choice, as there’s access by railway, metro and suburban railway networks, as well as by the Attiki Odos highway. Note to public transport users: A 10-minute walk from the station to the complex is quite a hiccup for the time being, as the bridge linking the two has not yet been constructed.