The city of Rome has chosen The Mills Corp. as lead developer to convert the ancient Mercati Generali site into a contemporary retail, entertainment and cultural center. The project will retain the ancient district´s name, which means “general markets,” and offer Romans shopping and entertainment in five areas.
The Recinto will be a large public square with about 100 apparel and specialty shops and will serve as a venue for markets and art galleries. Another section will have a bookstore, a high-tech public research library and some meeting rooms. Recreational facilities will include health clubs, sporting goods and equipment stores, and game arcades. There will be a restaurant and market district too, as well as a performance space with indoor and open-air theaters, a cinema, a radio broadcasting center and some nightclubs.
Mills is collaborating with European companies. They are Centro Commerciale Cinecitta; Consozio Cooperative Costruzioni, Cogiem; and RDM/Fingen, Lamaro Appalti. Mills has scheduled the ground-breaking on the planned 830,000-square-foot project for this summer.
“Mercati Generali provides us with an opportunity to further expand our franchise in Europe and aggressively yet prudently build our international business,” Mills Chairman and CEO Laurence C. Siegel said in a press release.
The site is two kilometers (1.2 miles) south of the Roman Forum and the Coliseum in the Ostiense quarter and is accessible by public transportion.
“With this landmark project … the former Mercati Generali will become the Covent Garden of Rome,” said Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni, referring to the former fruit and vegetable market in London that today is an open-air retail and entertainment space. It will be “a place to spend your free time intelligently,” he said.
In addition to the Mercati Generali site, Mills, which opened the Madrid Xanadu center in May 2003, could break ground in 2005 for projects in Milan, Valencia and Glasgow. The company also is pursuing other prospects in Barcelona, suburban Rome and Florence, and a second Milan site.