Mall owners and managers have turned their attention to expanding as well as reconstructing their existing assets, with four such projects currently under way in Attica alone. The total value of these projects comes to more than 80 million euros. Their aim is to keep shopping centers created in previous years up to date, and to consolidate their market shares in view of the creation of new-generation malls in Attica expected to start operating between 2023 and 2025.
The first expansion project concerns Smart Park at Spata, owned by REDS, an Ellaktor subsidiary. Some 15,500 square meters of additional store space is expected to come into use within this fall, considerably strengthening the prospects of this shopping development that will reach a total leasable space of over 51,000 sq.m.
The total investment by REDS in the extension of Smart Park comes to 26 million euros. Already, 70 percent of the additional space has been leased out, the latest deals concerning two new entrants in the local retail market: They are Ashley Homestore, which will lease 800 sq.m. for the sale of furniture and home decor, and the Toys Center chain, which will lease another 800 sq.m. to retail toys and seasonal wares.
Besides those two chains, there also are binding agreements with Decathlon, Gap, BoConcept, Marks & Spencer and Diafano. REDS anticipates more deals with technology, food service and apparel chains.
By end-2019 the expansion work for Lamda Development’s Golden Hall will have also been completed, through the reconstruction of the former International Broadcasting Center (used at the Athens Olympics 15 years ago). This is a 25-billion-euro investment that will add 11,500 sq.m. of net leasable surface, with an emphasis on developing family entertainment and office space.
There will be 5,950 sq.m. dedicated to recreation and gym facilities, including play areas, an aquarium, action games and interactivity spaces for children. These facilities, which aspire to evolve into the main attraction of the Golden Hall complementing its use, will further contain retailing and food service spaces.
The rest of the new space will host restaurants and cafes adding up to 3,650 sq.m., plus another 1,566 sq.m. for shops. The higher levels of the building will see the development of offices across four floors, totaling 5,264 sq.m. Market sources argue that the proximity to Kifissias Avenue, on one of its most popular sections for office buildings, guarantees high demand.
Riverwest, the mall of Viohalco subsidiary Noval, is also set for expansion. The property located on Kifissou Avenue will be extended with the addition of another 8,000 sq.m., an investment expected to top 10 million euros. The Decentralized Administration of Attica approved the project, which will constitute two interconnected buildings, earlier this summer. The ground floor will host a supermarket and four two-story shops.
Riverwest opened its gates in 2011 and today, after the previous round of expansion works, its total surface comes to 21,630 sq.m. Its new extension will take it close to 30,000 sq.m.
The Athens Heart mall is also looking forward to a full refurbishment and repositioning in the market with a different profile. This shopping center has now come under the control of US investment firm Hines, in a consortium with National Bank, which issued a 55-million-euro loan for the development of the mall and has not been repaid by the previous owner, Pasal Development.
Over the next 18 months, Athens Heart will evolve into a discount mall to be renamed Gazi Outlet. It will offer 22,000 sq.m. of leasable space for well-known and luxury brands at affordable prices so as to increase competition with neighboring Factory Outlet, which is just a few kilometers down Pireos Street. The reshaping of the property is expected to be completed in early 2021.
Hines is also running the licensing procedure for the development of a new commercial complex on the plot it acquired late last year at Akadimia Platonos from Blackrock. This is the former Mouzakis textile factory plot for which Hines has paid some 7 million euros. At first Hines will develop a property there to be leased by homeware chain Leroy Merlin. Gradually other buildings will be added too, to host large stores of commercial chains following the same model as Smart Park. Sources say the permit issue process is proceeding well.
Besides these two projects that are at a mature stage, Hines is hoping to activate – possibly within 2020 – the memorandum of understanding signed with Alpha Bank for the completion of the semi-constructed mall at Votanikos that used to belong to the Babis Vovos construction company.
The two sides have drafted a series of studies concerning the reconstruction of the mall and the implementation of complementing projects once the licensing problems are resolved; they stemmed from the dependence of the mall on the construction of a sports center, including a major stadium for the Panathinaikos soccer club. Now that the stadium appears to be back on track, the mall is also a real possibility too.
It is estimated that the investment for the completion of the Votanikos shopping center and the facelift of the surrounding area will require funds of 85-100 million euros, while an additional 80-100 million will be required for the construction of the soccer stadium and a basketball court, as well as various public spaces in the complex.