The Vienna State Opera is without a doubt among the ultimate attractions in the Austrian capital. The Vienna Opera Ball, in which celebrities from far and wide waltz across the dance floor, takes place each year in the magnificent building, which opened in 1869 showing Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Only the famous Kärntnerstraße separates the State Opera from the 13,000 sq m of space in the Ringstrassen Galerien, which are owned by Erste Wiener Hotel-AG and Zurich Versicherungs-AG. “After more than two decades, the right time has come to develop our inner-city retail property and its approximately 50 shops and restaurants. Both the tenant mix and its overall presentation will be brought up to date,” explains Ernst Gager, Head of the Real Estate Austria at Zurich Versicherungs-AG.
The marketing name “Opera Mall Vienna” makes reference to the culturally rich location. It is not yet clear what the shopping center will be called in the end. Its positioning has in any case already been decided, namely as “The Home of Affordable Luxury.” It will host international top brands that operate in a strategically interesting entry-level luxury price class. This segment – it is as yet still a niche –is currently one of the best performing retail segments. Sabine Hofstötter, Director of Finance at Erste Wiener Hotel-AG, explains the reasoning behind the positioning: “Located near the ‘Golden U’ and Kärntnerstraße, the mall is located at the interface between luxury and mainstream shopping venues. We want to be the link between these two segments. In addition, the city so far does not have a cluster for affordable luxury.”
Target Group: Tourists
A major sticking point for the refurbishment is to make retail in the new mall more visible and welcoming. From the outside, it should be clear that the interior is home to numerous, high-quality shops. With this goal in mind, the retail property will open up to the adjacent streets – especially Mahlerstraße. In addition, Max Weiler-Platz, which connects the two parts of the mall, will be improved in terms of quality of stay.
More international guests should also find their way into the inner-city shopping mall this way. There is enormous dormant potential. After all, no fewer than around 614,000 overnight stays per year occur within walking distance of the mall. Opera Mall Vienna is located in the heart of Vienna’s top hotel district. The prestigious Grand Hotel Vienna is part of the Ringstrassen Galerien and has direct access to the mall. The crème de la crème of the Vienna hotel scene (Bristol, Sacher, Imperial, etc.) is located in the direct vicinity. Opera Mall Vienna endeavors to create a segment mix that withstands international comparisons and makes spoiled tourists’ hearts race.
Who besides the owners’ representatives is responsible for this ambitious refurbishment? The project team consists of sma – Standort Marketing Agentur GmbH (concept), BEHF Ebner Hasenauer Ferenczy ZT GmbH (architecture), and EHL Immobilien GmbH (lettings). They all have scheduled time. The redevelopment, which is designed to be a sustainable process, will take about five years to complete. Among other things, this is because it must comply with various contractual maturities and obligations.
“THE NEW MALL WILL DEVELOP OUTWARDS”
The owner’s representatives Sabine Hofstötter and Ernst Gager discuss their plans for the building on the Ring.
Sabine Hofstötter, Director of Finance at Erste Wiener Hotel-AG:
“At the opening 20 years ago, the concept for the Ringstrassen Galerien was the right one. Since then, however, a lot has changed. We want to make retail more visible. People should recognize clearly from the outside that retail is taking place on a very large area in the heart of the city. We want to draw people into the building. We are currently working out the structural details of how to achieve this. In parallel, we are planning a refurbishment of the inside that will benefit the shops.”
Ernst Gager, Head of Real Estate Austria at Zurich Versicherungs-AG:
“The main advantages that we have are its prominent location on the Ring in the middle of a string of first-class hotels, the immediate vicinity of Kärntnerstraße, with its streams of visitors, and proximity of the opera house. We want to exploit these advantages for the benefit of our tenants and customers. It is therefore very important for us to integrate our neighbors into the refurbishment process. Specifically, I mean above all the shops on Mahlerstraße. We are therefore taking account of existing retail in our plans. This also reflects the basic idea that we want to develop the new mall outwards.”
- Rental area: approximately 13,000 sq m
- Number of stores: 50
- Location: inner city of Vienna, right beside the Vienna State Opera
- Accessibility: excellent, on foot as well as by public transport and car
- Parking spaces: 750
- Catchment area: 2.9 million people
- Website: www.operamallvienna.at