Plans for mammoth mall unveiled

  • 2001-08-30
  • Rokas M. Tracevskis
VILNIUS - Lithuania's Vilniaus Prekyba Group, the Baltics' largest retail group, has announced plans for an Akropolis shopping and leisure complex in Vilnius. It will be the biggest of its kind in the Baltic states.

NDX Development, the real estate consortium owned by the group, will construct the 70,000 square meter complex on Ozo Street, in Vilnius Seskine district.

The Akropolis will be built in two stages. Firstly, a shopping center and a parking lot for 1,800 cars will be built. Measuring 45,000-square-meters, it will house a Maxima supermarket, 70 retail outlets, Vilnius's largest bowling club, restaurants and an ice rink. This stage will cost 150 million litas ($37.5 million) and be completed by Easter, 2002, according to Mindaugas Marcinkevicius, chairman of NDX Development.

The second stage, to be completed by 2003, will include construction of a 10-screen cinema multiplex, a business and service center, sports grounds and the first water park in Lithuania and will occupy 25,000 square meters.

Vilnius Mayor Arturas Zuokas especially welcomed the idea of a water amusement park. "We will not need to go to Poland or even further for water entertainment. We'll have Lithuanian water attractions," Zuokas said.

Many Lithuanians currently make the trek to the 4,000-square-meter Polish Water Park, but that could be about to change. "This would be more than twice the size," said Marcinkevicius.

He added that the Akropolis would benefit Seskine residents as real estate prices there would rise. The Akropolis will employ about 2,000 people.

Vilniaus Prekyba, a locally-owned company, has more than 100 shops in Lithuania. It plans to achieve an annual turnover of $550 million in Lithuania in 2001, accounting for nearly one-third of the country's $1.85 billion food market. By comparison, in Estonia the food market's annual turnover is about $781 million. The Latvian market accounts for $1.3 billion a year.

In Vilniaus Prekyba's bid to conquer the Latvian retail market a similar Akropolis mall is planned for Riga. The company intends to have 12 stores open in Latvia by the end of this year, having invested $10 million, according to the Latvian business daily Dienas Bizness.

Its first Riga shop, similar to the Taupa range of small outlets in Lithuania, is now operating under the T Market brand name. Latvia has enough space for a total of 89 T Market shops, according to estimates by Vilniaus Prekyba Director General Ignas Staskevicius.

He said Vilniaus Prekyba wanted to take 30 percent of the Latvian market in three years and the company's daily turnover in Latvia could be as high as $500,000.

At present the largest supermarket chain in Latvia is Scandinavian-owned Rimi with 20 shops in Riga as well as stores in the resort town of Jurmala and the port city of Ventspils.