By Tibor Tatár
The renaissance of urban regeneration projects in CEE creates a demand for the next breed of shopping centers to satisfy the needs of all generations. For example, Futureal Group has just concluded a loan contract of EUR 150 million with UniCredit and Erste Group to finance Etele Plaza, the biggest shopping center on the Buda side of Budapest, marking the largest shopping center-related financing in Hungary in the last 10 years.
The plaza, which has a gross area of 137,000 sq m, will accommodate most of the large fashion brands in one place in Hungary. The construction of the first smart plaza has already started, at full capacity. The shopping and entertainment center of unparalleled, visionary design will also give an impetus to the development of the neighborhood in South Buda.
One of the most important factors for a successful plaza project is the selection of an ideal location. Budapest’s latest public transportation development, metro line 4, services the potential of exciting areas near the subway stations. With a rentable area of 55,000 sq m, built at the meeting point of a railway station, underground station, and motorways, Etele Plaza can be accessed in just 10 minutes from downtown.
The hub is currently used by 165,000 people daily. According to expectation, the primary catchment area will be one the most densely populated areas of Budapest, where some 235,000 people live. Over 640,000 inhabitants will be able to reach the plaza within 10 to 20 minutes of drive time, and more than 1,200,000 citizens will be able to reach it within 20 to 30 minutes. In total, there are 2,100,000 people in the theoretical catchment area of the site. The residents of the district represent 125 percent of the national average of purchasing power, under a relatively low degree of retail supply.
A new shopping center needs to offer outstanding services and design. Therefore, Etele Plaza will feature 180 shops, where the largest fashion brands will be represented in a larger quantity and store area than anywhere else in Hungary.
In addition, the center will include a supermarket, restaurants, cafés, a multiplex cinema, a gym, a children’s play center, and a range of other services, including nearly 1,300 parking spaces. The most advanced location and navigation system will facilitate parking in the building by indicating empty spaces; it will also help customers find chosen stores or services through a mobile application.
In the inner space, an interactive LED display media interface of almost 200 square meters will add to the uniqueness of the center, representing the latest generation of shopping center design. The elegant entrance hall, the fashion brand corridors, the attractive internal event space, and the terrace directly connected to the restaurant level, will all contribute to the unique atmosphere.
Etele Plaza, combining exceptional digital services and architectural solutions in Hungary, is not only the missing element of the Hungarian shopping center scene, but it will also act as a commercial engine of the Kelenföld area’s regeneration. This is one of Europe’s largest public transport brownfield investments, the scope of which includes Etele Plaza, transport developments, and the creation of the Budapest ONE Business Park, Futureal Group’s most ambitious office project.
The ongoing development of the new center over the next few years is guaranteed, as both state and private investment have been implemented. The possibility of constructing landmark buildings in line with the new, important role of the location also exists.