Iulius Group pioneered modern retail in Iasi when it developed the first shopping center outside Bucharest – Iulius Mall, in 2000. Initially a 19,000 sqm development, the retail scheme doubled GLA through subsequent expansions. Today, it hosts over 180 shops, a cinema, a Carrefour hypermarket, and a food court.
However, the primary shopping destination for Iasi and the broader Northeast region is Palas Iasi, developed by the same visionary investor. Palas Iasi is part of Romania’s most significant urban regeneration projects. It features the renovation of the iconic Palace of Culture, seven United Business Center office buildings, a hotel, an events expo, an open-air theatre, and a 62,000 sqm shopping center. Probably the crown jewel of the Northeast region, the total investment in Palas Iasi stood at 310 million EUR and served as essential infrastructure for the overall economic development. Increasing living standards by offering modern retail, office, and entertainment options, Iasi attracted the second youngest workforce after Bucharest. In addition, a steady number of multinational companies provided training and an increased average income, making Iasi a desirable destination not just for university studies but for permanent living.
Iulius Group brought two other concepts to the market. The first one is Family Market, two strip centers located in Iasi’s most dynamic suburban areas (Miroslava and Bucium). The second is the 6,000 sqm commercial area in Palas Campus, a destination for F&B and services to serve the 5,000 employees in the business center.
Other retail schemes in Iasi include Era Shopping Park, a 50,000 sqm retail park located towards the exit to Bucharest. Inaugurated in 2008, Era Shopping Park is anchored by key retailers such as Carrefour, Mobexpert, Rovere Mobili, Brico Depot, Altex, Decathlon, JYSK, Sportisimo, Pepco, Kenvelo, etc. Shopping Park Iasi, opened in 2014 by Square 7, spans 11,000 sqm leased by Flanco, MaxiPet, JYSK, and Kik. In addition, the 10,000 sqm commercial area in the Silk District that developed in five subsequent phases shall enrich the modern retail offering of the city.
Thus, the total stock of modern retail surpasses the 170,000 sqm threshold. The c.a. 20,000 sqm of modern retail expected on the market should increase the retail density (retail space to 1,000 inhabitants) to 650, an indicator lower than in most other cities in Romania — the number signals room for growth, pending continuous economic development and wage increase. Iasi’s prime shopping center rent is 55 Eur/sqm, whereas retail park rent ranges between 7 to 12 Eur /sqm.
However, there is encouraging news that places faith in the city’s economic prospects. IKEA most recently announced a 24,000 sqm store, its fourth in Romania, opening in Era Shopping Park in 2024. This step confirms that there is a critical mass of young families looking to buy or update property, with an income level matching Western standard.