Norway-based developer Lin-stow International is planning to build the Baltic countries' largest shopping mall by next fall in Tallinn.
Construction will begin in August and should be completed by October 2003. The company will invest $30 million to $35 million in the 53,000-square-meter, two-level retail complex, which will include a hypermarket.
The shopping mall will be named Ulemiste Keskus after nearby Lake Ulemiste.
Petter Salomonsen, managing director of Linstow Warner SIA, said that the mall's location near a highway and railway station, its well-planned infrastructure and the commercial design of the center will help draw an estimated 7 million customers a year.
The projected turnover is $100 million a year, he said.
Neighboring shopping centers say they do not fear the competition. Liisi Jauha, managing director of the nearby Finnish hypermarket Sikupilli Prisma, said the new mall would make the entire area more attractive to shoppers.
Andrus Laurits of Pro Kapital Eesti, another real estate developer, is planning to open a shopping center in the area.
"There's a lack of good quality shopping areas, so I see no danger here," he said.
Despite the rapid development of retail space in Tallinn in recent years, Linstow Warner's Salomonsen said there was room for growth.
"I've heard the expression 'don't we have enough retail?' since 1965," he said. "We're trying to get 6 percent of the Tallinn retail market and we don't think it is complicated."
There is currently 140 square meters of shopping area per 1,000 Tallinn residents. Riga has 40 square meters per resident.
The respective figure for Oslo is 640 square meters, he said.
Construction of the Ulemiste mall will be coordinated by Finland's NCC, which will employee up to 300 workers for the project.
Architects include Einar Aakeroy of Norway's Arkitekt-kontoret Aakeroy, Moe & Bowe AS and Juri Rass from Estonia's EA Reng.
The Norwegian-owned retailer RIMI will be the complex's largest tenant.
Negotiations are also under way with other potential tenants from Estonia, Sweden, Finland, Den-mark, Norway and Latvia. Linstow hopes to have 60 percent of the tenants signed before construction begins.
Linstow Warner is also the largest investor, developer and operator of shopping centers in the Baltic countries, with total investments in the region exceeding $ 70 million. The company is currently operating 50,000 square meters of retail area in Riga and plans to expand to almost 200,000 square meters in the Baltic countries in the coming years.
The company also owns the Reval Hotel Group, one of the largest hotel chains in the Baltics.