||Last Updated: Jun 20, 2014 - 5:05:44 PM
Taking a Look Around: GBPA President, Ian Rolle and Vice President Ginger Moxey recently toured the new Circle Mall. The new 40,000 sq. ft., fully air conditioned indoor mall is scheduled for its grand opening this coming Saturday. As the first of its kind for the island, Babak says he hopes that it will do well, having a positive impact on the economy. The Circle Mall consists of about 54 stores and outlets, kiosks and a food court area.
Freeport, Grand Bahama - With more than 40,000 square feet of designed interior space, all fully air conditioned and outfitted to receive customers, Grand Bahama Island is preparing to unveil its very first major indoor shopping mall. “The economic benefits of the Circle Mall project is good encouragement for the unemployment numbers, economic injection and quality of life amenities for the Grand Bahama,” indicated Ian Rolle, President of The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA) when asked regarding the Mall’s upcoming grand opening.
“This is a great addition to the island,” commented Rolle. “It is the first for Freeport and it is already beginning to bear fruit. “I am told that, directly and via its tenants, the Circle Mall has created over 150 new jobs. Further, another 30 or more persons were employed specifically for the build-out of the various spaces for rent.” Rolle added. “I believe that this project, along with numerous others over recent times, signal brighter days ahead for Grand Bahama’s economy.”
Owner and developer of the Circle Mall, Mr. Hannes Babak, explained that the concept was tossed around initially by Mr. Ray Simpson, of Freeport Building Supplies. The two (Babak and Simpson) quickly explored the idea, and began working to bring it to fruition. The end result is a true template of American type malls with stores, kiosks and a food court.
"The idea to convert the major part of the building into a mall was actually Ray Simpson’s idea,” noted Babak. “We explored the idea further and soon, we’ll be ready for the Grand Opening. The mall space consists of about 54 stores and outlets, kiosks and food court area” Babak added. “It is the first, largest and only fully air-conditioned indoor mall on Grand Bahama right now," he continued.
Babak also noted that the mall concept enables entrepreneurs to open or start small businesses with very little capital; "Each store or outlet operator needs only to outfit the space specific to the needs of its business. Further, the option of kiosks also exist for persons who don't need a full store space. Operators are able to try out their business ideas, and hopefully are successful." Babak concluded.
The Circle Mall is scheduled to have its grand opening this coming Saturday, having just launched its soft opening some six weeks prior. More than 40 of the mall's 54 spaces have been rented and owners are working feverishly to ready themselves for the grand opening. Store operators say that they are impressed with the overall outcome thus far, and that the concept has been received exceptionally well by the public.
Shopping in Comfort: Scores of residents enjoying the clean, well planned facility at the Circle Mall, while patronizing the various stores and eateries.
Mrs. Stuart, a store owner at the Circle Mall shared, "The public has been very receptive to the new mall. This is the first of its kind for Grand Bahama and I believe that it will do extremely well," she stated. “The development and opening of the mall has injected significant financial resources into the economy; creating jobs, and now persons are spending,” she added. “The cash flow system is operating and this important to moving our economy forward.”
When asked if she would recommend other young entrepreneurs follow suite, Stuart replied, "Most definitely, I would say 'Do it'. The location is great, it's an affordable start-up and there are still spaces available. If you understand the vision, you will see that there are opportunities and room for tremendous growth, but like every window of opportunity, timing is everything." Stuart concluded.
Scores of residents could be seen throughout the facility, patronizing the various stores and eateries. Most agreed that the new mall has served as an attraction site for both young and the young at heart. Its stores offer a variety of products and activities to entertain both children and adults.
As the first of its kind for the island, Babak says he hopes that it will do well, having a positive impact on the economy. "While I believe that the economy is making an upward turn, we need not to wait to invest, but to take the initiative and push the economy forward." Babak commented.
President Rolle also noted, that while the economy is making a slow incline, domestic investor confidence in Freeport is strengthening. “We are seeing more and more local investment and re-investment projects; this is what Grand Bahama needs,” he explained. “I applaud the investors that are expanding and opening new locations,” Rolle said. “There are opportunities and those with the vision to position their businesses for the economy’s rebound, will benefit greatly. At GBPA, we have made investing or re-investing for Bahamians easier than ever, so I encourage all to seek out opportunities and become stakeholders in your island’s economy.” Rolle concluded.
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