Bahraini market set for $527m revamp
Manama, July 14, 2014
A popular Bahraini market that has seen visitor numbers drop as a result of unrest dating back to 2011 could finally be in line for a BD200 million ($527.3 million) revamp.
The Manama Central Market, located next to the protest site at the former GCC (Pearl) Roundabout, was earmarked for the multi-million dinar redevelopment in August 2011, but a lack of investors meant the project stalled, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
However, the first phase of the project could now go ahead after Bahraini investors agreed to a cash injection.
Tashgeel for Commercial Buildings Management was awarded the contract to come up with a new concept for the once bustling shopping hub in 2011.
However, it failed to meet a one-year deadline to come up with plans due to a lack of interest from investors and was given an additional one-year extension.
"We understand that Tashgeel had an uphill task due to the nature of the area affected by the unrest and despite things getting back to a certain level of normality, attracting investors is still difficult," said Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi.
"Thankfully they have managed to attract two Bahraini investors who will rebuild markets housing fruits and vegetables, meat and fish and local foodstuff, while an investor has stepped in to build a hypermarket.
"We are now content with the three investors as a part of the first phase and we will sign contracts next month."
The project was first announced in January 2008, but was first sidelined by the global financial crisis and later suffered setbacks due to unrest.
Original plans involved changing the name of the complex to the Capital Trade Centre and developing business, residential, shopping and leisure spaces with four 28-storey office and commercial towers, car park facilities, a five-star hotel, a heritage village and a park.
While the first phase will focus solely on revamping the market area, Dr Al Ka'abi said he hoped more investors would come forward to expand the scope of work.
"We have heard that there is interest for the hotel and the office tower, but we are yet to meet with those interested and if we see they are genuine we will push hard for them to get contracts and start work," said Dr Al Ka'abi.
"Other projects will certainly follow if there is confidence that the location is profitable."
Manama Municipal Council vice-chairman Mohammed Mansoor, who is also the council's technical committee chairman, said the existing marketplace should have been knocked down years ago.
"It is illogical to have the Manama Municipality spend thousands of dinars to maintain the place when it should be bulldozed," he said.
"They have been carrying out annual maintenance since the BD200 million project was announced in 2011, but that can't hold the place together for long as it is past its prime.
"We are waiting for work to begin on the new marketplace because that's the only solution to give the stalled project a push." - TradeArabia News Service