Ülemiste Keskus next to Tallinn Airport reopened today, leapfrogging ahead of the competition to become Estonia's biggest shopping mall, or "fashion and family center," as the owner and developer would have it.
After a renovation spanning over a year, the new 92,000 square meter Ülemiste has 210 shops, including Estonia's first Sports Direct, H&M Home, The Pier, and the biggest Zara children's retailer. The food court is twice as large and a 700 square meter children's corner will open in January. Designer brand name tenants saw a particular increase, from 7,000 to over 20,000 square meters of retail space.
The expansion cost 84.5 million euros and the cast included architecture firm AMB Arkitekter AS (Norway), construction by Fund Ehitus, interior design by Joonprojekt's Priit Põldme and Reet Sepp. The owner and developer is Linstow International (also Norwegian), which also has six malls in Latvia.
When it was first built by Linstow in 2003, for about 30 million euros, the 50,000 square meter area was Estonia's biggest, but it was dethroned by Rocca al Mare in 2009 (53,000), and in turn by Tartu's Lõiunakeskus (66,000).
Rumor had it that the country's Kentucky Fried Chicken would set up shack at Ülemiste, but this did not happen. For now, new international chain entrees in the Estonian market have been on pause, with Subway the last fast food chain to expand here.