CAIRO: Al Futtaim Group announced on Tuesday that it had begun leasing property for Festival Center, the commercial hub of its ambitious New Cairo mixed-use development, Festival City.
Festival Center is a 180,000-square-meter space that Al Futtaim has begun to fill with a mix of stores and restaurants. According to company executives, when the shopping center launches in 2012 it will host over 300 stores and 100 restaurants.
It is also expected to include a 17-screen movie theater and parking for more than 7,000 cars.
“We have already signed with a number of big name retailers both internationally and locally and we will be hosting a major hypermarket, said Mohamed ElMikawi, Cairo Festival City’s general manager.
“In total our retail experience is expected to create over 5,000 new jobs, and we hope through Festival Center we can contribute to the development of Egypt’s economy.
As Festival City executives see it, though, Egypt’s economy stands to contribute a lot to Festival Center.
“We think the timing of this development is absolutely right, said Head of Retail Leasing Philip Evans, referring to the expected population boom in New Cairo.
The population of New Cairo, he said, is around 124,000. By 2020, though, it’s expected to reach 580,000.
Evans also identified Festival Center’s primary trade area, which is any spot within 15 minutes’ drive of the development. The population of that area, Evans expects, will grow from 5.4 million to 7.1 million over the next 11 years.
Based on projections, executives had expected Festival Center to eat up a 7 percent market share of its primary trade area. Because other developments and projects have faced setbacks, though, they have revised that figure up to 11 percent. That means they anticipate the shops will take in $1.3 billion in the first year of operation.
The retail stores in the shopping complex will, according to Evans, fall into three categories: fashion, lifestyle, and entertainment. About 40 percent of the floor area has already been signed by brands that include Calvin Klein, Toys R Us, Renaissance Cinema, and White House.
The executives were adamant that Festival Center not appear elitist. All of the stores, according to Evans, will either be mid-range or ‘aspirational,’ a category that’s transitional between middle and high end.
The housing development in Festival City also reflects the desire to be accessible to middle income families.
While Al Futtaim is building a number of villas in the development, it is also constructing a series of apartment towers, suitable to those who can’t afford the high end prices.
The rest of the development will contain a business district and a civil district, dedicated to education and other civil services.
Festival City will house 13,000 people and around 50,000 office workers.
About 30 to 50 percent of work in all areas of the development is expected to be finished by 2011.
Even while forging ahead with its plans for Festival Center, Al Futtaim is looking to buy more land for its next project.
“We are actively looking for another site to do another Festival City, Evans told Reuters.