Bahrain to build new shopping district
Manama, March 11, 2012
Bahrain has announced a major facelift of an area near the former GCC (Pearl) Roundabout in Manama that could see it turned into a thriving shopping district.
Councillors hope to include the revamp in a proposed overhaul of the Manama Central Market, which would turn the entire area into a major investment zone.
They are now preparing a study to incorporate the scheme under the market's BD200 million ($530.5 million) state-of-the art attraction, which was due to be completed within six years, after a three-year delay.
The study is expected to be finished by the end of 2013 and work would start the following year.
Businesses near the Al Farooq Junction have been hit hard by the unrest since February last year, which has already forced the Manama Municipal Council to abandon plans to increase rents up to 13-fold in that neighbourhood.
"Instead of dividing the place into two separate locations and having two different studies, it is more preferable - technically and financially - to have it all under one study and joined under one project without considering the road dividing both as a barrier," said council vice-chairman and Manama Municipality joint investment committee vice-chairman Mohammed Mansoor.
"In the end, if we want the marketplace to be revived and in order to do that we have to see both projects as interrelated. It would be illogical to have the market look amazing but its neighbouring businesses seem dull."
Tashgeel for Commercial Buildings Management was awarded a contract in August to supervise the project, which was first announced in January 2008, but was put on hold due to the credit crunch.
The project includes a new central market, which will be named the Capital Trade Centre, and is set to include business, residential, shopping and leisure spaces.
Four 28-storey office and shopping towers, car parking facilities, a five-star hotel, heritage village and a park are also part of the plans.
"We have to understand that the shopping area doesn't come under Tashgeel's agreement and that negotiations will have to commence for it to get included, but from early indicators there are no problems with them handling it," said Mansoor.
Our sister publication the Gulf Daily News earlier reported that eight companies near the Al Farooq Junction, which were threatened with eviction last year if they did not agree to massive rent increases, had been given a temporary reprieve.
Huge losses caused by protests prompted the council into a rethink - instead giving the businesses a two-year contract extension starting January 1 with an increase of just 10 per cent.
The companies rent outlets from the Manama Municipality, but the council wanted rent increases to bring them in line with current market rates.
However, they refused to back down and negotiations were taking place until February - when they collapsed due to the unrest. – TradeArabia News Service