Retail developers in Romania and across the globe are constantly adapting to the newest trends as new generations emerge and impose their preferences. The new concepts seen on the local market are increasingly focused on offering multiple experiences or socializing opportunities to people rather than simple shopping spaces.
These new trends in the retail and office segments are reflected by large urban developments including mixed-use spaces.
“This is becoming a trend and we pride ourselves on having launched this concept in Romania in 2012 by opening the Palas Iasi mixed-use project, which has been working excellently in Iasi,” says Oana Diaconescu, Head of Leasing, IULIUS.
Iulius Town Timisoara is currently the largest real estate investment in western Romania, adding up to more than EUR 220 million, and the first mixed-use development in this part of Romania. It is also the most important real estate project to open this year on the Romanian market.
A complex concept
“The idea to include Iulius Mall Timisoara into a mixed-use project and to create the ‘city within the city’ concept had been on the table for a long time, all the more as we had started a similar investment in Iasi in 2008. Although this is a relatively new trend in Romania, back then we were already aware of the fact that this was the future and that we would only focus on this type of development projects,” says Diaconescu. The city within the city concept is the solution for people’s interest in having all they need for their daily life within arm’s reach. Experts say that people now need modern working spaces, with as many facilities as possible, because when they wrap up their work day, they want to step out and go shopping or relax without wasting time in traffic.
But mixed-use development is now a more sophisticated concept as it also includes medical and educational facilities, both very important issues in Romania.
“Iulius Town Timisoara combines modern class A offices with generous retail and entertainment spaces. It also features a medical hub, the largest health and fitness center in Romania, a modern congress center, a kindergarten and a school taught in English, as well as a splendid outdoor space, Iulius Gardens, the work of Italian designers, bringing nature downtown,” says IULIUS’ head of leasing.
All these components of modern life are provided in a readily-available format, catering to the interests of cosmopolitan, highly educated individuals: work-live-play.
On August 30, together with its partner Atterbury Europe, Iulius group will open the first phase of the Iulius Town Timisoara project. Upon the grand opening, it will provide to its clients the largest retail area outside of Bucharest, adding up to approximately 120,000 sqm and 450 stores.
“Iulius Town will comprise multiple experiences, catering to a wide range of audiences. We’ve basically expanded the shopping and entertainment options available in Iulius Mall, and completed them with other outdoor features, such as the park, thus developing one of the most cosmopolitan leisure destinations in the region,” the group indicates.
Some of the already existing brands in Iulius Mall have expanded their floor areas and implemented the latest concepts available in Europe. This refers the five stores of the Inditex Group, Mango, and Douglas. The Peek & Cloppenburg brand will also open a regional flagship store, spanning on 3,600 sqm, according to the group. “Iulius Town will provide an outstanding shopping experience, as it will include the most beautiful and novel store concepts from famous international brands, chic restaurants, as well as a multitude of services,” says Diaconescu.
New entries on the Timisoara market include brands such as: Oysho, Zara Home, Intimissimi, Next Kids, Liu Jo, an Armani, Napapijiri and Pepe Jeans multibrand store, Primigi, Beautik and Taco Bell.
Sports lovers will have access to the largest health and fitness center in Romania, by World Class, which also features an indoor, semi-Olympic pool. “The variety of food & beverage locations is another strong point. Whether they are located inside the mall with terraces overlooking the green space or at the ground floor of the office buildings with panoramic views of the park, the cafés and restaurants will stand out through their themed designs and distinctive menus. Manufaktura The Coffee Shop Restaurant, Tucano Coffee, C HOUSE CAFÈ MILANO, TED’S COFFEE or Biutiful by Fratelli are only some of these venues,” says the IULIUS representative.
Business & entertainment facilities
Iulius Town will also accommodate an ultramodern conference center with three elegant halls designed for business and private events, with a capacity of up to 1,000 guests. “Iulius Town’s main anchor is the park at the core of the project, which will include 1,400 trees, 20,000 shrubs, a lake, event squares, a carousel for children, and an ice-skating rink during winter. Another novelty Timisoara locals will enjoy is the fact that they’ll be able to relax directly on the lawns, like we see in other famous parks around the world, as the park is fitted with special turf,” says Diaconescu.
The park will also be a meeting place for the community, where Iulius group will organize outdoor concerts, themed fairs, activities for children, cultural events, sports competitions, and many others.
Iulius Town Timisoara is certainly the largest real estate investment in western Romania and its developer is confident that the local market is mature enough for such a big project. Timisoara’s location in the proximity of Serbia and Hungary offers opportunities to attract shoppers from the neighboring countries. “The idea to expand the mall was generated by retailers’ great interest in opening new stores or in growing their own presence in the project. Right from its opening in 2005, Iulius Mall shoppers were not just from Timisoara, but also from the region and even from across the border, from Serbia and Hungary,” says the head of leasing at IULIUS.
Tailored to local needs
Iulius Town’s developer suggests that the numbers are already impressive and support the expansion of the project. “Iulius Mall has had an ever-growing footfall, and in 2018 we had close to 17 million visitors. Turnover and sales figures have grown annually and Iulius Mall Timisoara is always among the top 5 best-performing malls in Romania,” says Diaconescu. Official data indicate that Timisoara is a very appealing city for foreign investors, being on a positive economic track and enjoying qualified labour force. The major investments made by large foreign businesses have boosted the local economy, supported wage increases, and attracted people from other areas of the country and even from abroad.
This dynamic business environment encourages investments in retail and office developments. “We anticipated high interest among investors for opening offices in Iulius Town and today we have three buildings – United Business Center 1, 2 and 3 – leased by leading multinational companies,” according to Diaconescu.
“Iulius Town is indeed a major project, but it is tailored to the specific characteristics of the local economic and social environment,” the group added. Timisoara is the capital of Timis county, which had the highest GDP among the 41 Romanian counties (excluding Bucharest) last year, of RON 45.7 billion (EUR 10 billion), according to official data. Timis is also the county in Romania with the lowest unemployment rate (0.8 percent in 2018), the highest number of employees (241,000) and the second highest average income in the country.