x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Aldar scales back shopping centre

Yas Mall has been scaled back by 17 per cent and will open nine months later than planned due to a redesign aimed at cutting costs, its developer Aldar said yesterday.

Yas Mall has been scaled back by 17 per cent and will open nine months later than planned due to a redesign aimed at cutting costs, its developer Aldar said yesterday. The design of the shopping centre, which was due to open on Yas Island in March 2012, has been reworked and the project's budget cut by 40 per cent, said Mohammed al Mubarak, the chief commercial officer of Aldar.

"The shift in timeline was for us to get our prices on track ? [There] was a redesign, and contractors prices have come down, and consultants prices have come down," Mr al Mubarak said on the sidelines of ReCon, the shopping centre conference in Dubai. The mall has been reduced in size from 300,000 square metres to 250,000 sq metres, he said. Fred Douglas, Aldar's director of leasing, said the initial contracts were signed in the "boom days" and costs had fallen significantly since.

"I think it gives you a clear indication of how heated up this market was," Mr Douglas said. "And this correction [has] some good outcomes. Obviously, some not so good outcomes for different people, but we really have benefited from it." The adjustment comes as Abu Dhabi's retail building intensifies. Leasable retail space in the capital is expected to rise from more than 398,000 sq metres at the start of the year to 1.4 million sq metres by 2012, the property consultancy Colliers International says.

This includes Central Market, which is Aldar's reinterpretation of Abu Dhabi's old souq, the first phase of which is due for completion this year, and the 13,400 sq metres of retail space at Boutik in the Sun and Sky Towers on Reem Island, which should come online this year or early next year. With the capital's coming cultural projects such as the Louvre museum on Saadiyat Island and sporting events such as the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix, retailers are hoping to cash in on tourists while continuing to tap into the stable local market.

Still, developers are being cautious in the long term. Sorouh Real Estate has scaled back its retail plan for Lulu Island by more than half to 55,000 sq metres in anticipation of other retail projects in the capital. aligaya@thenational.ae