Five more shopping malls will open doors in Sofia in the next 2-3 years, according to real estate company GVA Sollers Solutions.
Construction works have already begun for three of them. The mall in the Lozenets district of Sofia is currently at the most advanced stage. Its name is "Paradise Center" and it is expected to be the largest mall in Bulgaria.
It is expected to have a built-up area of more than 170,000 square meters, with commercial area of 75,000 square meters.
At present, the leaders in Sofia are "The Mall", which has 66,000 square meters of commercial area, and "Sedika Center", with 50,000 square meters.
"Paradise Center" is expected to open doors in about two years. Besides shops, it will also have an entertaining area, including a mini amusement park on the roof.
The investment for the whole mall is about EUR 100 M and was made by Russian-owned company Bulfeld.
Another shopping mall that is expected to be ready by 2013 is "Bulgaria Mall". It will be located on the Sofia boulevard with the same name. It will have a built-up area of 33,000 square meters and will include 1100 parking spots in the parking lot, consisting of four underground levels, said Colliers International, which take up the mall's management.
The commercial area will consist of middle and high class local and international brand, including Carrefour, Tehnomarket, Orange, Mango, Tom Tailor, Salsa Jeans, Esprit, Marc O'Polo, etc. London Sofia Properties and Salamanca Capital would be the two investors in "Bulgaria Mall".
The construction of "Sofia Ring Mall" is expected to begin soon, The project has been frozen for several years. However, it is expected to be completed by 2013.
It will be located at the Sofia ring road, next to the IKEA store, and will be part of a larger commercial and residential project. It will include a hypermarket with an area of 9000 square meters, a DIY store and a cinema.
Investor is the project is Sofia Ring Mall Sofia EAD, a subsidiary of the Greek company Danaos Development.
Another shopping center, named "Mega Mall", will open in Sofia's Lyulin district. Even though the project has been delayed by the investor, Austrian company Real 4 You, which is working in Bulgaria through its subsidiary Magnum Bulgaria Gamma, its foundations are ready.
The commercial area of the mall will be 26,000 square meters. It will have four floors and over 600 parking spaces, the consultant Raiffeisen Real Estate announced.
The project "Europe Park" in Sofia is also expected to make progress. It will emerge on a former factory site in the heart of the city, a multi-use urban quarter comprising shopping facilities, offices, apartments, hotels, a cinema and other entertainment facilities.
The commercial area of the project is expected to be about 250,000 square meters. Investors in the project are Germany's ECE Projektmanagement and Bulgaria's GTM-Angel Balevski EAD.
Bulgaria ranked first in the European Union in the number of new shopping malls in 2010, a report by Cushman and Wakefield consultancy showed.
While in most EU member-states the number of malls is on the slide due to the global economic crisis, their construction has accelerated in Bulgaria, marking a nearly 90% increase over one year.
A similar trend is also witnessed in other Balkan states - Bosnia&Herzegovina, Romania, Slovenia, Serbia and Croatia - but the growth rate there is 5-10%.
The stock of contemporary shopping mall space in Bulgaria doubled in the first six months of 2010 with the opening of five new shopping malls, reaching 452,000 square meters in total, according to a recent realtor report.
Another five shopping mall projects are expected to be added to the contemporary stock to the market, according to Colliers International's retail market overview for 2010 in Bulgaria.
The opening of new shopping malls affected not only the urban landscape, but the performance of the main High Streets as well.
Brands are concentrating in the malls, where rental rates are lower, pushing overall vacancy to 10% in Sofia, according to Colliers' report.