The launching of ABC Mall in 2004 rejuvenated the entire area around Sassine Square. Although, with more than 50,000 SQM of global leasable area (GLA) and around 200 retail units, the mall dominates the market and attracts the most important local and international brands, it has revitalized the entire neighborhood. Sassine Square, which had been an aging market growing slightly dilapidated, found its place again on the retail map of Beirut. ABC Mall plays an important role in attracting footfall to Sassine Square, although it retains the monopoly of the star-brands. Sassine Square has specialized in less glamorous shops but that rely on a high turnover of customers.
Retail on and around Sassine Square is quite homogeneous. It is made up of three main offers: local and international fast food chains and coffee shops, local sweets shops, Lebanese fast food, clothing stores, and financial institutions. ABC’s layout helps in generating footfall into the sorrounding area, thanks to its numerous accesses to different street levels around Ashrafieh. The main entrance to the mall is indeed just a few meters’ away from Sassine Square itself. The fact that the surrounding streets are a natural extension of the mall encourages traffic between the mall and the broader neighborhood. Slightly secondary areas around Sassine Square (along parallel or perpendicular streets), offer a large supply of mid-market clothing stores, a number of local brands that carry a varied collection of imported clothes. Another sector that is very heavily represented on Sassine Square is the financial sector. A large number of banks have either branches (on ground floor level) or offices (on the first or second floors of buildings). This is a relic of the 1980s, the decade during which Sassine Square was at its zenith. There is a small number of dispersed retail, mostly old rental contracts still carrying old fashioned grocery stores, stationary shops, a few butcher shops, etc. This is a very run-down stock, the tenants of which are keeping their businesses going while they await an indemnity to vacate the premises.
Rental and Sales Values
The rental values of retail units on and around Sassine Square depend on the topography of the land. Sassine Square is the most expensive market, as it is relatively flat, wide, and is the most highly recognized address in the area. Driven by sustained F&B demand, the rare retail units that are available immediately on Sassine Square post asking rental rates between USD 800-900 per SQM per year. Prices drop the further away from Sassine Square the units are located. As the topography of the area slopes away from Sassine Square, the steeper the slope, the further rental values drop. Thus, retail units located on the near slopes immediately off Sassine Square are about 30% cheaper than prime locations on Sassine Square. Rental values down towards Saydeh Church, or AUST University lie between USD 500-600 per SQM per year. Further downhill, prices drop by another 20% approximately, to reach USD 400-500 per SQM per year. Locations that are not easy to reach on foot, such as the area down from Saydeh Church or Spinneys (Mar Mitr), no longer attract pedestrians and must rely strictly on passing traffic. As parking in front of the store is usually difficult due to the congestion typical of Ashrafieh, the commercial potential of these units is greatly reduced, thus affecting prices. At the moment, there are no retail units offered for sale on or immediately around Sassine Square. The sale price must therefore be deduced from rental values. Applying a yield of 7% (which is the average yield currently achieved by retail units in Beirut), sales prices can be estimated at around USD 5,500-12,500 per SQM on the first floor.
Rental values (USD/SQM/Year)
- Sassine Square 800 – 900
- Slightly inclined streets 500 – 600
- Steeply inclined streets 400 – 500
- Sales values (USD/SQM) 5,500 – 12,500