A record amount of new commercial space was opened in Bulgaria in the second quarter of 2010, according to a report of Forton International, a property advisory company.
A total of 163 000 square meters of new commercial space was inaugurated in April-June 2010, Forton says, currently estimating the total commercial space in the country at 485 000 square meters.
The new commercial space was mostly the result of the opening of new commercial complexes and shopping malls in Sofia, Varna, and Plovdiv. The second quarter included the opening of “The Mall”, the country’s largest shopping mall located in Sofia, and the opening of The Grand Mall Varna.
Thus, Bulgaria has going up in the European ranking of commercial space available per 1000 persons overtaking Greece and Ukraine on that criteria.
With the newly-opened venues, Bulgaria now has a total of 63.89 square meters of commercial space per 1000 inhabitants. The amount of commercial space per 1000 persons is the highest in the centrally located city of Gabrovo – 279 square meters per 1000, and in Varna – 278 square meters per 1000.
The situation in Gabrovo results from having two relatively large shopping malls for a population of only 65 000 people, while the recent opening of the Grand Mall Varna added new 52 000 square meters of commercial space.
Forton International has pointed out in its report that despite the shrunk demand, the interest in high-class commercial areas in Bulgaria remains high – especially as far as Sofia is concerned.
The company has found, however, a staggering decrease in the rent prices of stores on major commercial streets, which are said to have gone down to the 2002 levels. There has been a 30% drop of rent prices in Sofia and up to 45% in other Bulgarian cities in the second quarter of 2010 year-on-year.
Forton expects that the Bulgarian commercial space market will take advantage of the current period of lower business activity to restructure in order to offer new formats of commercial space such as retail parks, which demand lower investments and provide for faster returns.
The company reports emphasizes the fact that despite the availability of a rising amount of unoccupied commercial space, the investors in Sofia are clearly optimistic about the future of the sector, and are returning to increased dynamics with respect to new large-scale products in the last few months. This is seen as an indication about Sofia’s potential for further development of its commercial space.