ISLAMABAD: For the first time in the history of the federal capital, residents can shop at a real shoppingmall.
It might be difficult to believe, but the last time Islamabad had a similar multi-storey shopping complex was the Awami Markaz — the utility store-disguised-as-mall back in the ‘90s.
Hundreds of Islooites thronged The Centaurus Mall on Sunday as it opened its door for public for the first time.
The four-storey mall, which has around 250 shops, is being opened in phases. For now, the mall’s ground and first floors have been launched.
“The Centaurus Mall will feature a five-screen cinema, a “fun city” for children, a food court featuring international fast food chain outlets, and four levels of parking in the basement,” Fahad Faheem, manager development of the Centaurus project, told The Express Tribune.
Muhammad Amir, a doctor at the Shifa International Hospital, was visiting the mall with his wife and sons, Moonis, 11, and Hassan, 7. Amir said the Centaurus Mall reminded him of a mall he and his family visited in Khobar, Saudi Arabia.
“It is great that we have a mall comparable to malls in the Middle East,” Amir said. “I hope it can take off.”
Mrs Imran, who wished to be identified by her spouse’s name only, said Islamabad residents would only come across malls when visiting Lahore or Karachi, but now they can boast about one in their city.
“I am extremely pleased that we have a good place to shop at last,” she said. “Not only do they have a lot of brands under the same roof here, but also a safe environment for shoppers.”
She said she was impressed by the variety of brands that have set up shops at the mall.
Cinnabon — a popular American baked goods chain — Lahore’s Al-Fatah super store and the luxury watch brand Tag Heuer are some of the major shops that will open at the mall over the next few weeks.
At the Concept Art Gallery on the ground floor, store manager Sardar Abrar Riaz said he was pleased with the turnout on the opening day.
“The customer response has been very good,” Riaz said. “People need entertainment and security, and I feel this mall combines both those features.”
The mall has 16 escalators, panoramic lifts, CCTV cameras and back-up generators, Faheem said.
He said 80 per cent of the shops have been booked so far. The shops have been rented out for an average monthly rent of Rs500 per square foot, but there are different rates for different floors.
The $350 million Centaurus project — which includes a five-star hotel, two residential towers and a corporate tower in addition to the mall — started in 2006.
The project attracted some controversy when the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) raised an objection on its height. The CAA claimed the construction firm had increased the number of floors after construction began and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) did not receive permission from the CAA before approving the new heights of the buildings.
Pak Gulf Construction — the real estate developer for the Centaurus — also withheld payments for the project because it claimed the CDA had not provided it with utility services mentioned in the original agreement between the two parties.
However, in September 2012, the developer and CDA reached an agreement regarding the establishment of a grid station for the Centaurus.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2013.
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