There has not been a new shopping center development undertaken in Budapest for several years. Developers were concerned about the level of consumer spending following the financial crisis, planning regulations concerning shopping center development, and subsequently the impact of COVID and the lockdown and accelerating rise of online retail.
Retail analysts see the arrival of the first mall for several years as a welcome freshening of the Budapest retail market and a well-located development.
“Etele Plaza is the latest generation, carefully designed shopping center that meets the current needs of shoppers and visitors. Over the last 10 years, our industry has been talking about entertainment, and the whole shopping experience has to be entertaining from the moment you start from home to the moment you arrive back,” says Tibor Tatár, CEO of Futureal.
“We did a shopper profile of, for example, a young couple with small children living in a housing block, or a wealthy Buda family with high spending power, to try to understand what is the shopping experience, what entertains them, and what draws their attention from a profile by profile perspective,” he explains.
“All these details were designed into the complex, and this includes several thousand elements from the tenant experience. This is from a visual and digital experience and how users approach the shopping center by public transportation or car,” Tatár says.
“By thinking from a profile by profile and entertainment by entertainment perspective, we have tried to tick as many boxes as possible, and I think that this has been slightly different to the approach of previous shopping center developers. We even sacrificed income on certain tenants as we needed their function, and they could not afford to pay such high rent,” he added.
Etele Plaza was designed by the Hungarian architects Paulinyi & Partners. It includes around 180 retail outlets, restaurants, cafés, a multiplex cinema, a gym, and 1,300 parking spaces. The complex is Breeam “Very Good” certified; Futureal is also investigating WELL certification, although there is currently no accreditation system for shopping centers.
The development concept is of a South Buda city center with a retail and office function. The project is located at the meeting point of the Kelenföld railway station, Metro line 4, and the M1 and M7 motorway approach section and is being marketed as a brownfield regeneration project.
Tatár sees Etele Plaza as representing significant exposure in one project, even for a large-scale developer such as Futural. He estimates that it is the equivalent of six to eight office projects in terms of cost because of the size of the project. UniCredit and Erste Bank have financed the development.