Shoppers' paradise. An artist's conception of a proposed shopping mall in Bratislava's old town.
Courtesy of 1. Národná aukčná spoločnosť
Centrál Pasáž (Central Passage), as the future mall is called, is trying to attract foreign retailers and bring new shopping opportunities to the Old Town. "We are not trying to change the use of the building, we are just trying to reinvigorate shopping opportunities," said Adriana Litomerická, director of 1. Národná aukčná spoločnosť, the company that became the property's owner.
Bratislava retail sales is already a competitive business. 1. Národná aukčná narrowly edged out City Hall to acquire the central mall. "1. Národná aukčná bought it just before us, really, the difference was only a few days," said Milan Vajda, spokesman for Bratislava's Mayor.
But Vajda added that City Hall doesn't hold a grudge, and admitted it may even be better that the building was acquired by a private company. "They may get the reconstruction done earlier than the city would," he said.
1. Národná aukčná spo-ločnosť plans to obtain the necessary construction permit by the end of this month, when the project is to be completed on paper. The refurbishing is set to begin in the first half of 1998.
Centrál Pasáž will be similar to western European shopping malls, adding another entrance from Laurinská Street to the Stará Tržnica, which is itself currently undergoing reconstruction. That reconstruction has been postponed due to an unsolved ownership dispute between Slovak-American entrepreneur Rudolf Mosny and Bratislava City Hall. Neither party could say when the fabled Old Market would reopen.
On its five floors, Centrál Pasáž will offer 2,645 m2 of retail space, 510 m2 of office space, and 553 m2 for services, including a restaurant. The rest of the 5,382 m2 total floor area is to be used for operations and communications purposes. The reconstruction will cost around 100 million Sk.
Litomerická said her company was looking mostly for foreign retailers with well-known brands. She said she was not worried about the number of customers the mall would attract, and pointed to the high concentration of shops in the Old Town. "Just like Tesco will always have people that come there and shop, Centrál Pasáž will not be any different," she said. "It is very unlikely that there's going to be a boom of new shopping malls in the center, so we think that the reconstruction of Centrál Pasáž is a good choice."
Vajda added that small shopping malls like the one planned, have been very popular in the Old Town after the 1989 Velvet Revolution. "Projects like the Perlička shopping mall at Michalská ulica, the Stará Tržnica and the Centrál Pasáž are a big hit with both visitors and tenants," he said. "They bring a special atmosphere to the city."