As Russian tourist shoppers are returning to Finland, they will have a new destination in Lappeenranta city centre.
The first phase of the extension and redevelopment project of IsoKristiina shopping centre opened to customers Thursday.
80 tenants, theater and hotel expansion in the center is calculated to attracted 5.6 million customers, of which 15 per cent would be the Russians. But Lappeenranta has suffered most from the decline in Russia as a major border shopping destination for its big neighbor.
The investment decisions for Lappeenranta was made in better times, Mayor Kimmo Jarva tells STT.
But he is confident in the Russian tourism, that is slowly recovering according to fresh numbers.
”I strongly believe also that Ikea’s arrival in Lappeenranta will become true, even if delayed. We have a preliminary agreement until the end of the year,” says Kimmo Jarva who also sees retail opportunities at the airport.
The grand opening of the totally renewed and extended IsoKristiina shopping centre will be in October 2015. Construction works for the remaining premises will continue until the autumn. At that point, IsoKristiina will have a total of 34,000 square metres of leasable area, and according to Citycon almost 90 per cent of IsoKristiina’s leasable area has been leased.
IsoKristiina shopping centre is equally owned in a joint venture by Citycon and Ilmarinen.
“Citycon’s strategy is to focus on urban locations of strong cities. Lappeenranta, a busy and growing university town, where we have been able to create an attractive city centre shopping centre, fits well in our asset strategy. We are also very pleased that we have been able to successfully carry out this project with our long-term partner and shareholder, Ilmarinen,” says Nils Styf, Chief Investment Officer at Citycon.
A unique feature of IsoKristiina is that the Lappeenranta City Theatre will be entirely located within the shopping centre. The theatre will open in January 2016.
The shopping centre will also house health care, several specialty shops and department stores, such as a brand new Marks & Spencer store. In addition, there will be a variety of cafés and restaurants.
Next autumn will see the opening of Finnkino’s new cinema complex and Fitness 24/7 gym.
“Our aim has been to build in the city center of Lappeenranta a shopping centre that is close to people´s everyday life. IsoKristiina has good and strong international and national anchor tenants, but it also hosts excellent local stores” says Heikki Alén, Project Development Manager, Citycon.