Winick helps push development ahead in Senegal
Winick Realty Group knows the ins and outs of retail real estate in New York City, where it has been in the brokerage business for a quarter century. These days, though, the firm is tackling a far less familiar market. Winick is studying the feasibility of building a mixed-use project on 10,000 acres in Dakar, the capital of Senegal.
Residents of this West African country “are starting to see discretionary income and build a middle class,” said Richard Kave, Winick’s director of international retail, who visited Dakar in May. “They are doing all the right things. We think the timing is good for this.” Senegal, a former French colony, is one of the most stable democracies in Africa. Economic reforms resulted in a 5 percent increase in gross domestic product on average between 1996 and 2006. Winick is joining other architects and engineers to develop a sprawling former industrial area.
President Abdoulaye Wade “wants to create a financial and business center in the area that includes residential and museum components, and certainly retail and commercial,” Kave said. If the plan gets the go-ahead, construction could begin in about three years. The project could include a high-rise office building and a lifestyle center that would create a downtown shopping district, though it is too early to know the size of any retail component, Kave says. Whatever the size, the retailers will encounter little competition: Dakar has a mix of open-air markets and storefronts, but no shopping centers.
Paulette Powell (above, center, with new Senegalese friends), associate director of the international retail group at Winick, helped name the center, which will be known as Coeur de Lion, French for “heart of the lion.” She has also suggested that the center build a cinema and host the African Film Festival (film director Ousmane Sembene, the “father of African cinema,” is from Senegal). “I think the place is definitely ready for it,” said Kave. “The economy is doing quite well, and the government is stable. They really have their eye on the ball and are doing the things necessary for sustained development. I see a real opportunity here for this to grow very quickly.” Powell says Winick has talked to some U.S. retailers about opening up in the new development. “We’ve talked to people,” she said, “and they’re ready to come over.”
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