UPDATE | Aug. 14:
According to our sources, Villaggio is likely not re-opening tomorrow. A spokeswoman there told Doha News today that the mall is still awaiting approval from Civil Defense, though several shops and whole sections of Villaggio are ready to re-open. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.
The Villaggio Mall, which still smells of the fire that left 19 people dead there on May 28, is getting ready to re-open its doors to customers.
A manager of one of the shops in Villaggio told Doha News that the mall’s management aims to have most of its shops reopened by August 15, just ahead of the Eid holiday shopping rush.
On a recent trip inside the mall, we witnessed a number of retailers cleaning up and renovating, although many still had to restock inventory and finalize repairs.
The manager we spoke to expressed skepticism, though, that all the shops would be ready in time for the deadline.
Ash can still be seen and smelled in several areas of the mall, and some of the woodwork near where the fire occurred – at the Nike store between Gates 3 and 4 – has been damaged by the water firefighters used to douse the blaze.
Following the fire, which was started by an electrical fault, power was apparently switched off at the mall for two months, worsening some of the water damage.
Parts of the mall’s faux sky ceiling have also been clearly discolored by the smoke.
The corridor of shops between Gate 3 and 4 have been sealed off and evidently will not be part of the mall’s relaunch.
What will happen to Gympanzee, the second story nursery/play area where 13 children and six adults died, remains unclear. A court date to determine responsibility for the fire – and the deaths – has been set for September 6.
Toward the other end of the mall, Virgin Megastore, the Cinema and other shops appear largely unaffected.
And although the food court and Gondolania kids area on the north end also appear to be in good condition, it isn’t immediately clear if the restaurants there will be given the green light to reopen in two weeks by the Ministry of Health.
What do you think? Will you be there on August 15?