Written by Amnon Vogel
It was preceded by a long period of resistance, but preparations for the expansion of the Leidsenhage shopping center are now well underway. After the necessary demolition work, it became “the most beautiful, largest and most modern shopping center in the Netherlands” ???? It opens its doors in 2019 under the name Mall of the Netherlands. Real estate developer Unibail-Rodamco revealed its plans this week.
At the end of 2013, the municipality of Leidschendam-Voorburg and Unibail-Rodamco announced their collaboration to redevelop the Leidsenhage shopping center. With forty thousand square meters of additional retail space, the largest shopping center in the Netherlands will be built, which has a function for the entire region. That same area isn’t happy about it, judging by the various lawsuits the planners have gotten. The municipalities of Wassenaar, Vorschüten and Leiden entered into a legal battle, but eventually gave up. Syntrus Achmea has attempted to halt plans with an emergency measure in the state board, with the real estate investor citing research that would show 2.3 percent of stores in the area would close if expansion continued. The judge dismissed all objections, leaving the way to the new Leidsenhagé.
Mall of the Netherlands was chosen as the future name for a reason, explains regional manager Benelux Otto Ambagtsheer from Unibail-Rodamco to de Volkskrant. “The current name Leidsenhage is well known regionally, but innovation on this scale requires a new name that is nationally and even internationally accepted.” This is also necessary because of the “owners of special shops” ???? And the international retail chains the mall should attract, he says. The new name is also in line with other projects by Unibail-Rodamco, such as the Mall of Scandinavia in Stockholm and the yet-to-be-realized Mall of Europe in Brussels.
The name is far from the only thing that changes in the mall. The number of square meters will be increased by more than half, from 75,500 to 116 thousand. The number of parking spaces will increase from 2,900 to four thousand and the number of shops from 180 to 230. A ten-screen, 1,200-seat cinema will be part of the Mall of Holland. Therefore the word “expansion” does not fully cover the meaning of what is happening in Leidschendam. The old center is currently being demolished and something is still lacking in the Netherlands, according to Ambagsher: a large, modern, mall-style shopping center in Stockholm. “We respond to the need that exists among customers, which is to spend a day outside in a modern, well-maintained shopping mall, where you can easily park your car and also enjoy good food. We are not building extra square metres, we are building the right square metre.”
“We chose to renovate Leidsenhage, because it has everything needed to become the shopping center of the Netherlands,” adds project leader Teun Koek of Unibail. Just think of the site which has 2.4 million people within a half hour drive and excellent accessibility. ???? What do the tangibly promising words mean for the group of shops? All 230 stores will be different and not “thirteen in twelve shoe stores,” as the developer promised. Must be a mix of “unique local shopkeepers”???? and international brands, including some that cannot be found anywhere else in the Netherlands. In addition, the owner will encourage that about ten percent of the stores are rotated annually with brands, designs or concept. “Even the range of stores consistently exceeds visitor’s expectations.” ????
According to the developers, Mall of the Netherlands is responding well to the changing retail landscape and consumer behaviour. “Big multi-brand chains disappear on the shelves, because consumers often use the store as inspiration and then shop online.” Unibail sees opportunities primarily for flagship stores, which focus on their own brand and can articulate who they are, what they stand for and what they offer. This is coupled with the option to order products online, excluding the store itself, directly from stock. This way of shopping requires a strong brand identity and the new Leidsenhage provides every opportunity for this. ????
Trendy and hip
The â???? extrasâ???? In Holland Mall, next to the cinema, there is the Designer Gallery and Fresh Street. The designer’s gallery will be a kind of combination of a meeting place and a breeding ground for distinct local concepts. Here there is space for private clothing stores and artisan furniture makers as well as artists and hair salons. Unibail says trendy, cool, and innovative keywords. Moreover, there will be fashion shows and there will be a collection point for online orders. Fresh, as the name implies, focuses entirely on fresh foods and products. Consumers should be able to do their daily shopping here, but there are also events like cooking and tasting classes.
470 million euros of additional investment, the Mall of the Netherlands is supposed to open in the first half of 2019. Unibail aims to receive 12 to 14 million visitors annually, an increase of four to six million from now. It remains to be seen which international chains and major brands will settle there. The name is not as unique as a shopping center should be. Because the Mall of the Netherlands will soon replace the Hoog Catharijne in Utrecht as the largest shopping center in the Netherlands, which the owner Klépierre also introduced, yes, the Mall of the Netherlands.
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