New Moscow Mall is World Class
Although Evropeiski Mall, a true shopper’s paradise, opened its doors to the public in November of last year to catch the seasonal spending spree, it was not officially opened until March 1. It is now nearly complete and practically all tenants have moved in. The eight storey structure is impressive! Not only has it set a new standard for Europe (it really deserves its name), but it is hard to imagine something better anywhere else, except perhaps Dubai.
The statistics: 180,000 sq meters (2 million square feet). Over 300 stores. 32 Cafes & Restaurants
By Daniel Klein
There is something for everyone at Evropeiski. From bowling to an imitation rock wall for climbing enthusiasts to a nine-screen cinema, an internet café, a fitness club, Perekrestok supermarket, video arcade and even a large indoor ice-skating facility. One of the most eye-popping establishments is the two-level wellness center called Rixos Royal Spa (from Turkey) which features saunas, whirlpools, massages and even a sandy beach so that the members wealthy enough to afford the $5,000 annual membership can enjoy the view of Bolshoi Dorogolmilovskaya Street four flights below.
The mall also features 2 levels of roof top parking. There are 2 metro entrances located inside the mall and it is situated less than 30 meters from the train station. While the Mega projects across Russia are almost all larger than Evropeiski, none have more stores than Evropeiski, since the format of the stores is much smaller in Evropeiski.
Finlayson, the Finnish linen and home textiles company, founded by James Finlayson, a Scottish merchant, in 1820 under the patronage of Tsar Alexander I, has chosen Evropeiski as the site of their flagship Russian store. Marks & Spencer and Tommy Hilfiger are cheek to jowl with Yudashkin Jeans. Wild Orchid and Hallmark vie for gift buyers with LeFutur.
TGI Friday’s, Il Patio and Goodman’s Steakhouse are all here, while Pekinskaya Utka has opened its third restaurant on the third floor and at the back of the food court is the snobbish Russian flagship of the Belgian Le Pain Quotidien international bread and organic food franchise. Gohar Gragossian, the general director of the Russian franchisor of Le Pain Quotidien, can be found lighting candles on the tables before dashing off to a business meeting.
One of the largest tenants by square meters is the Perekrestok supermarket and it is not that much larger than the average Perekrestok. This mall is accessible to 4 metro lines, a train station, a commuter rail station, dozens of trolley buses, dozens of shuttle buses, and is about 300 meters from the Garden Ring and other main street arteries.
According to Passport, this mall is here to stay and is giving its rivals a run for their money. Just walk into the once-crowded Atrium Mall situated across town and the “penny will drop” immediately. Another proof of the Evropeiski Mall’s success was that the landlord decided to rent out the spaces directly, electing not to use a realtor middleman, and they were able to achieve 100% occupancy rather effortlessly.
Moscow is filling up with malls. Last year, according to Gazeta newspaper, there were 16 new malls in Moscow and 34 are expected to open in 2007 – that is almost a new mall every week! Despite all of this activity, it doesn’t seem likely that Evropeiski will be dethroned as Moscow’s ‘King of Malls’ for years to come. In terms of in-town projects, almost all are underground. There are plans to build underground shopping centers near Pushkinskaya, Paveletskaya, Beloruskaya and Smolenskaya. However, as these projects are underground, who knows how long it will take to complete them since digging under an ancient city is risky at best. The experience of the Ritz-Carlton built aboveground at the Intourist Hotel site on Tverskaya should be lesson enough. The ultra-luxurious hotel’s opening has been delayed time and again, and is now at least a year behind schedule. There are geological and archeological issues to deal with, unmapped networks of gas pipes, electrical lines, water and hot water mains; not to mention the metro; or for that matter, the so called "2nd metro" line which was supposedly built at the height of the Cold War to ferry around government officials in case of the breakout of serious hostilities.
There is also allegedly a whole network of underground roads which was built for the same purpose. It is ironic how construction projects that were to deal with a possible NATO invasion are interfering with a different Western-style invasion some 50 years later. Even if these glamorous plans to build all these subterranean shopping paradises come to fruition, they can be inefficient in design, and the potential size of these malls can be rather limited; usually about one third or one quarter of the Evropeiski in terms of rentable square meters.
The only potential competitor for the Evropeiski will be the mall planned for Moscow City. However, its location is not at the center of the city, although situated adjacent to Moscow’s recently completed packed-to-the-gills Third Ring Road. There is also only one metro that goes to the Moscow City development district and car traffic in that area is already on par with the worst in Moscow. Only two petite-sized buildings are open – what will traffic be like when the other dozen or so behemoth structures are ready for tenants? Who was in charge of urban planning on that one?