RIGA - The long-awaited Domina shopping mall, a 60 million euro real estate venture led by PK Investment, a Pro Kapital company owned by investor Ernesto Preatoni, opened its doors to the public last week.
The complex, located on the territory of the former VEF electronics plant just outside downtown Riga, is only partially finished, with last week's ceremony marking the completion of the first phase.
According to Pro Kapital officials, the mall will be the largest in Latvia by the time construction is completed next year. The total area of the mall will encompass 110,000 square meters, with retail and recreational areas occupying approximately 50,000 square meters.
Currently the largest mall in Latvia is Alfa (59,000 square meters).
In the first phase of Domina's development, 47 stores with a total 19,000 square meters will be opened, as well as a parking lot for 1,200 cars.
The mall will feature several boutiques not found in other Latvian malls: Sisley (clothing, Beneton group), Segue (accessories and bags, Beneton group), Apranga (clothing), La Camicia (men's shirts and ties), Este and Geox (footwear) and Soprano (ice-cream parlor).
Thousands of Rigans thronged to the grand opening on Sept. 19, with most of them bracing the long line to take advantage of the sale at the 11,000-square-meter Hyper Maxima supermarket.
Chairman of the board of Pro Capital, Paolo Michelozzi, said that Domina would be completed by May 2004 and will feature a gallery comprising 80 shops (total area – 23,000 square meters), office space (2,500 square meters), a three-star hotel with 65 rooms, a bowling hall and 700 additional parking spaces.
Financing for the project came from a syndicated loan granted by Estonia's Hansabank, Latvia's Hansabanka and Latvijas Krajbanka. Earlier this year Aizkraukles Banka joined the syndicate.
Michelozzi believes that the investments in the project will be earned back in approximately seven years.
Last year the Pro Kapital group ended with a loss of 112 million kroons (7.16 million euros) on turnover of 976 million kroons. At a meeting in June, shareholders said they could recoup the losses on profits in the coming years.
According to a recent survey by Ober-Haus, Tallinn is still ahead of its Baltic neighbors in terms of supermarket floor space per capita. Tallinn currently has 285,200 square meters of sales area in large supermarkets, while Riga has 293,710 square meters and Vilnius 243,000.
Warsaw, by contrast, has 668,000 square meters of supermarket space per capita.