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The Big Dome gets bigger

THE BIG Dome just got a little bit bigger with the addition of Gateway Mall 2 in Quezon City.

Gateway Mall 2 is Araneta City’s newest mall, connected to the Araneta Coliseum and Gateway Mall 1 (and its adjoining tower). It boasts of eight levels (three of them for parking) and more than 200,000 sqm. of retail space.

Other features of the mall include a church (which seats around 1,000) on the roof deck, a bowling alley with more than 20 lanes, 18 cinemas, and access to Araneta Coliseum. Of the church, Lorna Fabian, Vice-President for Leasing of the Araneta Group said that its design is inspired by the papal tiara. The church is located beside the Ibis Styles hotel, which has some of its floors adjoining the top of the mall.

The Araneta family developed the 35-hectare property in Cubao, Quezon City in the 1950s. Patriarch J. Amado Araneta’s vision led to the Araneta Coliseum, which once had the distinction of being the largest covered coliseum in the world. Other developments in the property — formerly called Araneta Center and renamed Araneta City a few years back — include Ali Mall, recognized as the country’s first modern shopping mall. The group has other interests in food franchising (holding the local franchises for Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Dairy Queen).

The branch of the Araneta family that developed Araneta Center has representation in various fields: Politician Manuel “Mar” Araneta Roxas II is a nephew of Araneta Group chair Jorge Araneta (through his sister Judy), while Asia’s Best Female Chef for 2016 and restaurateur Margarita “Gaita” Araneta Fores is his niece through his late sister, Maria Lourdes “Baby” Fores.

Speaking of Gaita Fores, a whole block at one of the new mall’s floors will be occupied by restaurants of the Fores family. These include Ms. Fores’ own Grace Park, her son Amado’s a mano (which opened this week), and Malou Fores’ Mamou. Other upscale restaurants to open (on another floor) include Wolfgang’s and Tung Lok Seafood. The same floor occupied by Wolfgang’s may also host luxury retail shops soon, according to Ms. Fabian during a briefing and mall tour on Aug. 16.

A slew of athletic shoe stores has already opened on one of the floors, including Anta and Foot Locker (it’s no coincidence that they’re located near one of the access gates to the Araneta Coliseum, host as it is of various basketball games). The mall has space for 400 stores.

During the tour, we saw the 700-sqm. LED ceiling called the Quantum Skyview — which can be leased — flashing images of a cat. Araneta Group chair Mr. Araneta was also spotted during the tour, making a personal inspection of the mall. Another feature is a “lagoon” (actually a rectangular fountain) that could be covered up to become a stage or a runway which is not a surprising ability as the Araneta Group also holds the local franchise of Miss International and the local Bb. Pilipinas pageant (Mr. Araneta’s spouse is Stella Marquez Araneta, the world’s first Miss International).

Other restaurants that have opened in Gateway 2 include New York favorite Shake Shack, right outside the mall at the Coliseum Plaza, where it is accompanied by other restaurants. “The challenge for these restaurants is to offer wine, beer; so people can stay longer, up to 2 o’clock in the morning,” said Ms. Fabian. The plans are for the restaurants in the Coliseum Plaza to be open past mall hours, to accommodate Coliseum audiences.

Touch-ups to Gateway Mall 1 and nearby Farmer’s Market are also in the pipeline. Speaking of Farmer’s Market and Plaza, Ms. Fabian quipped, “Magmumukha naman siyang kawawa kaharap ng Gateway Mall 2.” — Joseph L. Garcia

Joseph Emmanuel Garcia

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