The Gemini Park shopping centre is being expanded in Tychy. As a result, the facility is to be expanded by nearly 7 thousand square metres. What will be gained from the extension of the already largest shopping centre in Tychy? Tomasz Misztalewski, director of Gemini Park Tychy, talks about the investment.
The expansion of Gemini Park is being implemented despite the ongoing pandemic. The current market situation did not discourage you from this investment?
Tomasz Misztalewski: We were thinking about the expansion even before the completion of Gemini Park in 2018. We knew that the centre would need further incentives to strengthen its local and regional position. So this investment had to happen and for several reasons. Firstly, Gemini Park has become one of the most visited shopping centres in the region in just 2 years. In 2019 alone, nearly 4.5 million people did shopping here. Our catchement has also increased, which today covers a market of over a million people. Not only the inhabitants of Tychy and neighbouring cities, but also those commuting from further parts of Silesia started to do shopping here. Secondly, after just one year of activity we felt a lack of entertainment offer. Our customers also expected us to take another step in the development and expansion of our offer, especially with modern cinema. The latter was and still is favoured by the situation on the market in Tychy.
What do you mean?
T.M.: These guys have been struggling with under-screening for years. For such a big city, with over 128 thousand inhabitants, we have only 5 cinemas. This is a terribly small number, especially since the surrounding market has as many as 1.3 million potential viewers, coming not only from Tychy, but also from a dozen or so neighboring towns, where there is no such proposal. Among these cities are such large centers as Mikołów, Pszczyna, Oświęcim, Lędziny, and Bieruń. Thus, a large gap has been created on the market, which our investment will fill. As a result of the expansion, the inhabitants of Tychy and its surroundings will no longer have to go to modern cinemas in shopping centers such as Katowice. Such an offer will be within their reach.
But it is not only the cinema that will be built in the new part. The plans are wider, what do they include?
T.M.: First of all, the development of the current catering zone and its extension with new space and premises. So there will certainly be more restaurants and cafes, including interesting catering concepts. In addition, another children's play area will be created, as well as a leisure zone. The ground floor will be filled with new service points. Of course, the coming months will show how the commercialization will proceed. The current situation is a certain difficulty, but talks are underway and Gemini Park is considered an attractive location for brands.
Well, what do you want to convince the tenant to invest?
T.M.: Gemini Park is a shopping centre of many advantages. Apart from the pandemic, we are a place perfectly connected with the whole Silesia and Podbeskidzie. The gallery is located just off the S1 route connecting the two regions, and only 3.5 km from the very centre. Moreover, the facility is surrounded by as many as 21 housing estates inhabited by nearly 90 thousand people. The format of the gallery is also attractive, as it is very family-like and thus compact. It is a handy centre, which in only 2 years has become a first choice gallery for Tychyans and residents of neighbouring cities. Our environment is also important, which is constantly developing. Together with the neighboring Obi and Media Markt stores, and soon also Castorama store, which will appear in place of the existing Tesco, we are creating a commercial Power Center, which will eventually have as much as 100 thousand square meters. GLA. Further retail investments are also planned in the area. The entertainment offer of Gemini Park will therefore be located in the centre of this commercially rich zone. The location of the entertainment zone will also help in commercialization. This was deliberately combined with a food court. An argument that has also appeared in recent weeks is the speed at which Gemini Park is regaining customers. Today, footfall is already at the level of nearly 90% last year.
Expansion during a pandemic probably brings additional challenges. The biggest ones are...
T.M.: Every investment of this kind is one big challenge. The greatest challenge is to carry out work in an operating facility. Here, however, we managed to organize them in such a way that they are not felt by the clients. This is due, among others, to the location of the expansion site. The expansion of Gemini Park is also an architectural challenge, related to the integration of the new part into the existing facility so as to maintain consistency. Add to that a pandemic. Ensuring proper safety of the workers has become a priority. The construction site is therefore subject to strict sanitary requirements and a whole series of restrictions.
When do you plan to complete the investment?
T. M.: The work will probably last another year. Everything also depends on how the winter will look like. We are initially planning to finalise the construction in autumn 2021.