Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP), in partnership with Meyer Bergman, the European real estate investment management firm, announced the opening of the Forum Nová Karolina shopping centre in Ostrava, Czech Republic, the first shopping centre to open in the Czech Republic in over a year and the most significant retail offering in the Moravia-Silesia region.
Meyer Bergman, through its first fund, Meyer Bergman European Retail Partners I, and HOOPP acquired the centre in September 2011 from its developer, Multi Corporation.
Situated in the heart of Ostrava, the third largest city in the Czech Republic, Forum Nová Karolina comprises approximately 60,000-sq.-m. of retail and leisure space that is anchored by an Albert hypermarket, international retailers H&M, Marks & Spencer and C&A, and includes an eight-screen multiplex cinema, as well as a unique family centre with one of the largest crèches in the Czech Republic. A key part of the centre is the food court, which comprises a number of restaurants and coffee bars. Other tenants, eight of whom are opening their first store in the City of Ostrava, include Burger King, Subway, Panenria, Sushi, Muziker, Douglas Perfumery and Pure Gym. The centre is now 95% leased, with further lettings expected to be announced soon.
The shopping centre represents the first phase of one of the largest urban development and regeneration projects in the Czech Republic. The scheme, which is being carried out by a consortium of developers, comprises a complete extension of the inner city, spanning a 25 hectare site, and is scheduled for completion in 2016. In addition to the development of Forum Nová Karolina, the first phase will deliver 220 new residential units and 23,000-sq.-m. of commercial space to the areas surrounding the shopping centre. As a result of the development, over 1,500 jobs have been created locally.
“This is a landmark development for HOOPP, as it is our first retail development in Europe. Real estate investing delivers steady income, and is an important part of the way HOOPP delivers on its defined benefit pension. This investment is an excellent fit with our strategic long-term objective of providing the pension to more than 260,000 working and retired healthcare workers,” said Lisa Lafave, senior portfolio manager, Real Estate for the HOOPP.