Dubai: A garden-themed mall opening its doors here in 2018 is expected to give an added boost to Dubai's retail landscape.
Not only will it give shoppers a nature-inspired destination in a city where 60 per cent of residents visit a mall once a week; it will also bring the mall experience closer to a fast-developing district.
And, that too, from the same guys that gave Dubai its world-renowned Miracle Garden, a magnet for tourists.
This is what the people behind Cityland Mall — coming up near Global Village and that will create nearly 1.2 million square feet — is intent on.
“Gardens and food really are the new anchors for malls of this decade,” Fahim Sharfuddin, CEO of Cityland Group, which also built the Miracle Garden and Butterfly Garden in Dubai and Paradise Garden in Al Ain.
But the Cityland Mall and other such shopping destinations now in the pipeline are likely to add pressure on developers to offer best lease rates for retailers.
A staggering 1.5 million sqm of new retail space is being added in Dubai between 2018-20, putting intense pressure on mall developers and their leasing programmes.
As of now, about 30 per cent of the leasing has been attained including the areas for the hypermarket (operated by Carrefour), the cinema (by VOX) and the family entertainment centre (Fabyland).
Just as important, expressions of interest for up to 80 per cent of the space have ben received. The Dh1.2 billion mall is due to open in 2018.
But there are also pressures in lease negotiations.
“The market dynamics have changed and we are prepared for pressure from potential retailers, especially those in the fashion business,” said Sharfuddin.
“We are always keen to maintain some flexibility in any negotiation — market realities will dictate that. I’m not going into the specifics of our rentals. But, for me, the most important point is that with 30 per cent leased, we are ahead of where we planned to be at this stage.
“Within the next three months, we will be in a position to announce some more names.”
For that, the Cityland Mall can take credit for its location, where residential communities on either side of Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road are under fast-track construction.
That would in turn create a resident base of around 200,000 within a 20-25 kilometre radius, based on Cityland projections.
“This area is not being served by any retail destination within immediate reach, which serves as a competitive advantage for us,” said Sharfuddin.
McArthur + Company is handling Cityland leasing and future mall management, and according to its chief, Phil McArthur, there are clear categories the mall will be focusing on.
“The key is to focus on a great location with a strong design and merchandise mix that responds to the needs of the target trade area,” he said. “We are planning a convenient, large-scale, ground-level only, 350 outlet shopping centre.
“Some of the new retail destinations like Cityland Mall are demand-driven given that over 200,000 residents of Dubailand live without a regional mall and within 30 minutes of their homes. This is reflected in our merchandising direction for the mall.
Within the mall itself, the developer has set aside space for more than a tinge of green.
In fact, a full-fledged “Central Park” is to occupy pride of place, and this area will have 25F&B options, for large-format restaurants with garden terraces.
Across all tenant categories, Sharfuddin is hopeful that up to 15 per cent will be represented by first time retailers to the Dubai marketplace. That would also reduce the impression of the same retailer names showing up when a new shopping destination opens in Dubai.
In early July, the developer had signed up for Dh524 million in funding from a mix of local and regional banks. “We are utilising these funds based on progress achieved on the construction side. We are strictly maintaining the project timeline.”
There is always more coming in Dubai retail
The tap never runs dry where new mall and other retail projects are concerned in Dubai. The most recent announcement was that of Dubai Hills Mall in Mohammad bin Rashid City, which will add 2 million square feet of leasable area and feature 750 outlets.
“There is currently 3,414,000 square metres of shopping centre GLA [gross leasable area] in Dubai,” said Phil McArthur, Managing Director of McArthur Company. “We are expecting an additional 1,539,000 square metres by the end of 2020, representing a 45 per cent increase or 13 per cent annual average growth.
“[Of this], 1,134,000 square metres (74 per cent) of new GLA is expected to be in regular malls, while 395,000 square metres will be in “lifestyle” F&B/entertainment-led centres [such as Marsa al Seef, Bluewaters]or niche developments [the Deira Islands Night Souk]. These figures exclude “organic” street-level retail.”