By Staff writer
Air conditioning the entire project ‘not financially viable and not environmentally responsible’
The Mall of the World project is set to be scaled back to three malls that will be built in stages, according to the development’s chief operating officer.
Morgan Parker, Dubai Holding's chief operating officer appointed last year to manage the colossal project, told the Bloomberg news wire the development will be scaled down from the original plan of one large shopping district and will now be built in stages, allowing the project to grow gradually over time, as demand and funding dictates.
Declining oil prices, geopolitical issues and a soft Dubai property market have meant that the project will not be the record-breaking mall that it was first envisaged to be, it was claimed.
“We are avoiding the biggest of this and tallest of that,” the 41-year-old was quoted as saying. “Dubai is maturing as a city and investors are looking for rational projects. At the end of the day, the money is made by the tenants paying the rent and they are looking for projects that function.”
The planned project will still have a total of 9.15 million square feet of retail space that will include a Rodeo Drive-like fashion district with street shops and traditional malls. Around 35 office buildings and 8,000 homes – including luxury and student accommodation – will also be part of the development that will help support the project’s shops and restaurants.
Traffic congestion in the area, particularly on the Sheikh Zayed Road, was one of key issues that Parker identified when he took over the project, saying the first designs could have created “the biggest traffic jam in the history of the world right in the centre of Dubai”.
Parker told Bloomberg the project's amended plans will now have 22 entrances and exits on four roads to avoid a possible gridlock, which compares with the five exits for locations like Dubai Marina and Downtown. The development will also have a central station from where metro, tram, bus, and a free carbon-neutral electric shuttle would operate.
One of the big features of Mall of the World was a plan to provide an air-conditioned environment for shoppers throughout the year. Parker said this too has been scaled back, with a scientific study now commissioned to try and come up with a feasible solution to build an area that will avoid overheating.
“Without shade, people can walk about 176 meters and then they’re done,” Parker said. “You give people shade, they can go further and if you allow them an opportunity to walk into air-conditioned space at 24 degrees Celsius, the body temperature drops down to a neutral position.”
The plan is also to build towers closer to each other, which could then have shaded pathways and awnings.
“Air conditioning an entire development is not financially viable and not environmentally responsible,” he said.
While Dubai Holding will finance half of the project, it will need institutional investors to help bring the scheme to fruition.
“This is a very, very large project,” he said. “It’s going to require an enormous amount of work and capital to bring to fruition.”
Parker said he hopes to conclude partnership agreements with investors this year.