Meyer Bergman, the European real estate investment management firm, and Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan ('HOOPP'), a Canadian pension fund, have announced the opening of the Forum Nová Karolina shopping center in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
The ca. 60,000 m² center marks the first shopping center to open in the Czech Republic in over a year and represents the most significant retail offering in the Moravia-Silesia region. Meyer Bergman, through its first fund, Meyer Bergman European Retail Partners I, and HOOPP acquired the center in September 2011 from its developer, Multi Corporation.
Situated in the heart of Ostrava, the third largest city in the Czech Republic, Forum Nová Karolina comprises circa 60,000 m² of retail and leisure space that is anchored by an Albert hypermarket, international retailers H&M, Marks & Spencer and C&A, and includes an eight-screen multiplex cinema, as well as a unique family center with one of the largest crèches in the Czech Republic.
A key part of the center is the food court, which comprises a number of restaurants and coffee bars. Other tenants, eight of whom are opening their first store in the City of Ostrava, include Burger King, Subway, Panenria, Sushi, Muziker, Douglas Perfumery and Pure Gym. The center is now 95% leased, with further lettings expected to be announced soon.
The shopping center represents the first phase of one of the largest urban development and regeneration projects in the Czech Republic. The scheme, which is being carried out by a consortium of developers, comprises a complete extension of the inner city, spanning a 25 ha site, and is scheduled for completion in 2016.
In addition to the development of Forum Nová Karolina, the first phase will deliver 220 new residential units and circa 23,000 m² of commercial space to the areas surrounding the shopping center. As a result of the development, over 1,500 jobs have been created locally. Ostrava-born Czech model, Simona Krainova will be the face of Forum Nová Karolina, reflecting the center's aim to become the dominant fashion shopping destination in the region.
Markus Meijer, Chief Executive and Founder of Meyer Bergman commented: "The opening of this shopping center marks a key milestone for Meyer Bergman, and underpins our continued belief in the strength of the Czech economy and its retail environment. With an excellent line-up of high quality tenants, and having attracted eight new retailers to the city, we are confident that this prime shopping center, in the heart of Ostrava, is well placed to deliver solid returns for our investors."
Lisa Lafave, Senior Portfolio Manager, Real Estate for the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, commented: "This is a landmark development for HOOPP, as it is our first retail development in Europe. Real estate investing delivers steady income, and is an important part of the way HOOPP delivers on its defined benefit pension. This investment is an excellent fit with our strategic long-term objective of providing the pension to more than 260,000 working and retired healthcare workers."
Source: FTI Consulting