Size of Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi is reduced

Aldar's shopping centre on Yas Island has been downsized to 235,000 square metres and will welcome shoppers in 2013.

A worker walks past the foundation for a mall parking structure on Abu Dhabi's Yas Island on April 20, 2009. Nicole Hill / The National
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Yas Mall, a shopping centre planned by Aldar Properties for Yas Island, has been downsized further to 235,000 square metres and is now expected open in 2013, said a senior company official.
The design of the shopping centre was cut from 300,000 sq metres to 250,000 sq metres last year and has been reduced further to reduce costs, said Fred Douglas, Aldar's director of leasing.
"Obviously, when things have changed with the financial meltdown around the globe, we obviously had to reassess things. And that has put the project into 2013 instead of 2012. But it is looking good."
Aldar also plans to relocate some of the large-format retail stores from Yas Mall to outdoor, standalone structures alongside the new IKEA store, which opened yesterday, Mr Douglas said.
The move would reduce costs for the mall developer and the mall's retailers, he said.
"Space in shopping malls is expensive to build . whereas you can take large-format retailers, the big boxes, and they just take a barn-style type of thing. They can build those cheaper," he said.
The revision of Aldar's plans comes as Abu Dhabi's retail space is set to boom - it is expected to double to almost 1.8 million sq metres by 2015, says the property broker Cushman & Wakefield. The scale of expansion in shopping space has some retailers and analysts concerned that the market in the emirate will become saturated.
Abu Dhabi is on track to have among the largest amount of shopping centre retail space per capita in the world, and surpass Dubai, where the bulk of the retail developments in the country have been concentrated. Dubai has 1,385 sq metres of shopping space per 1,000 people, more than the US average of 1,028 sq metres per 1,000, according to Cushman and Wakefield. In Europe, there is just 231 sq metres per 1,000 people.
Although Abu Dhabi has 936 sq metres per 1,000 people, it is set to hit 1,690 sq metres per 1,000 by 2015.
Other retail projects in Abu Dhabi have been scaled down in light of such concerns. Sorouh's plans for Lulu Island have been reworked. Deerfields Town Square, originally a Victorian-themed shopping centre in Al Bahia, has streamlined its design and reduced the retail space by 35 per cent to 83,613 sq metres.
Aldar began reworking the design of Yas Mall last year. Other projects on the island moved ahead last year as well. . Ferrari World, the world's largest indoor theme park, which is based on the Italian sportscar brand, officially opened in November.
Meanwhile, the company is moving ahead with its other projects in the capital. Central Market, Aldar's revamped version of Abu Dhabi's old souq, opened its first-floor shops last year, and retailers were fitting out the upper levels, Mr Douglas said.
The Emporium, a 170-store high-end shopping area connected to the souq, should open by the middle of next year, he said. About 70 per cent of the Emporium has been leased, and Mr Douglas said he expected all shop space to be leased by the end of the year.