By CAROLINE CUNHA
FARO ATRIUM, the new shopping centre and cinema complex due to open in Rua de Santo António in downtown Faro, is expected to open by the end of this year, if all goes to plan ….
There has been some confusion surrounding the opening of Faro Atrium as, according to the President of Faro Câmara, José Apolinário (see July 20 edition of The Resident), the centre was scheduled to open in September this year. Apolinário told The Resident at that time that he was very excited about the new look complex, as he felt it would revive the main shopping area in the downtown area.
However, Hélio Bolas, president of the board of Companhia Cine-Teatro Farense, a family company over 50-years-old and the owners of the complex, insists the deadline was always the end of 2006 and not earlier. “We are depending on various entities and, for things to get done on time in this country is very difficult,” he told The Resident. “If everything goes to plan we can open by the end of 2006, hopefully in time for the Christmas shopping season. That’s what I’d really like to see happen, but it will be a record in this country if we achieve it,” he said.
Situated opposite the popular Gardy café, Faro Atrium will replace the street’s old shopping centre and cinema, which has been all but empty for several years. Five million euros is being spent on the renovation project and, when completed, Faro Atrium will house 30 shops, a cinema complex with three screens, a selection of restaurants and will boast a very modern interior design. The old cinema at the new Faro Atrium site shut down six years ago as it no longer offered the conditions to compete in the market and, slowly, the shops and cafés also closed, leaving just a handful on the ground floor including a newspaper shop and a jeweller.
“We have just signed a contract with Algarve Ciné, an established film distributor already working with several other cinemas in the region and I am delighted to say that the cinema will boast the latest technology. We have invested in the very best seats to guarantee optimum comfort and the total capacity of the cinema and its three screens will be 500,” said Hélio Bolas.
When asked about progress on the renovation project, Bolas explained “Yes, the interior is already finished and the shops are now being installed”. He would not confirm any store names however, but promised to provide The Resident with further information in the coming weeks.
The refurbishment is being carried out by construction company, Grupo Edifer, which has been established in Portugal for 50 years. It was partly involved in the building of Freeport Lisboa, the designer outlet village and has an impressive résumé with considerable experience in the construction of shopping centres in Portugal. Retail specialist, In.mont shopping is managing the commercial aspect of Faro Atrium, contracting the shops for the centre.
In terms of access, Faro Atrium is well served by buses and parking is available in Rua de Santo António’s new underground car park at Praça da Pontinha, which opened last year but, if Faro Atrium does not open in time for Christmas, it is likely to cause disappointment among local consumers, as well as other local business owners keen to benefit from increased interest in the downtown area.