Beyond the upscale Bahnoffstrasse, Zurich now offers the kind of shopping city within a city that residents of the Gulf know and love so well.
Sihlcity, billed Switzerland’s largest shopping and leisure complex, opened its door to the public in March, and expect some 20,000 visitors a day. With shops, cinema, health spa, apartments, hotel, nightclub and more laid out over 100,000sqm outside the city proper, the CHF620 million ($510 million) development is built on the site of a former paper mill on the outskirts of Zürich and uses many of the original features of the old factory.
Investors expect to receive an annual return of CHF40 million in rent payments from the 80 shops and other tenants, swissinfo.com reported. Retailers at the complex include the usual suspects: Zara, H&M and Esprit, but novel features include TV screens sunk into the floor in the ladies toilets. Why should the men have all the fun?
Zürich’s tourist board has already hailed the complex as a unique entertainment concept and expects it to be a magnet for foreign visitors. “It will be a key part of Zürich tourism as it offers new depth and richness to the existing attractions of Bahnhofstrasse and the old town. It brings everything together, shopping and entertainment, in one area so people don't really have to move to enjoy it,” tourist board head of operations Markus Salzmann was quoted as telling swissinfo.com.
Typically, the mall has come in for much criticism, in particular from city residents that would like their ‘town’ to stay that way. These are the sort of people that lobby for city shops to stay shut on Sundays, saying they don’t want the extra money another day’s business could bring. Like one resident told this reporter, Zürich doesn’t want to grow into a big European City, and seems content to stay provincial.
Meanwhile, traders at the chi-chi Bahnoffstrasse are shrugging off the competition: each caters to a different market, they say.
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