A stunning three-stage plan, likely to cost millions of dinars, is being proposed to revamp one of Bahrain’s oldest shopping complexes that has fallen into decline.
Edamah, the government’s real estate arm, has presented an array of proposals to restore the landmark Lulu Shopping Centre in Manama to its former glory.
The strategies – discussed at a recent Capital Board of Trustees meeting – focused on better housekeeping, infrastructure development and promotion to attract visitors.
The structure, in the heart of Manama, opened with much fanfare in 1997 under the Capital Municipality. However, the complex, featuring supermarkets and retail shops, has been accumulating debts with declining sales and footfall over recent years.
“The tenants have been struggling with the weakening business climate, which led to a decline in sales and an accumulation of debt and financial claims,” said Waleed Adel Ali, Edamah Property Management Company general manager, in a high-level joint presentation with Dr Fahad Al Saad, head of business development.
“Edamah is proposing ways to maximise its operations and utilise the space.”
The 12,721sqm mall, which is centrally-located within close proximity to Bab Al Bahrain and the Central Market, has a tenancy mix consisting of a supermarket, retail shops, kiosks and offices occupying 85 per cent of the space. It has 99 occupied units while 29 remain vacant. It also has a parking lot that can accommodate up to 300 vehicles.
The proposal would increase the occupancy level to 97pc, it is confidently predicted.
The meeting heard that the current infrastructural drawbacks were hindering business development – including an unappealing entrance, poor lighting, dilapidated structures and damaged ceilings which all need to be revamped.
Even the free car parks are being used by non-mall visitors.
If implemented, the Edamah rescue project will be executed in three parts.
In the first phase, ‘we propose active supervision and creation of standardised operating and housekeeping procedures to get the mall in order’, the representatives told the meeting.
Infrastructural development, including repairs and renovations, will be carried out in the second phase.
“Changes and upgrades are required to bring the mall to an acceptable standard, where it can continue operations seamlessly, whilst ensuring safety of tenants and visitors.
“A long-term plan for bigger changes, such as store relocations and the creation of new common areas to improve commercial viability and rental prospects, is needed.
“Our objective is to attract visitors, increase occupancy and revenue and diversify tenants.”
The third phase could see the setting up of more facilities including a drive-through café, popular food and beverage outlets and areas for indoor and outdoor events.
New ways to advertise and increase visibility of outlets will also be explored.
“Our aim is to reach 100pc occupancy by leasing all available spaces, and finding suitable tenants,” they added.
“Additionally we can generate more revenue by monetising the car park and introducing advertising opportunities.
“We can organise food and art festivals and a farmers market. The mall could also host national and traditional celebrations.
“We can lease space for various government, schools and corporate events.”
Board chairman Salah Tarradah welcomed the draft proposal to develop the centre.
The final plan will be submitted to the Works, Urban Planning Affairs and Municipalities Minister Essam Khalaf.
“What has been presented to the board is the initial plan and we have now requested Edamah to finalise it to be forwarded to the minister,” Mr Tarradah told the GDN.
“Being property developers, we are sure that Edamah will have the right ideas to develop this complex and optimise its utility. They have not set a budget yet, which will be in the next stage.”
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