Former Pula Shopping Mecca Left to Become Ghost Town

Lauren Simmonds

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 8th of August, 2019, the huge building near the city market in Pula covers 8,000 square metres and five floors. Unfortunately, this huge space with obviously endless potential is now nothing more than a ghost building. Construction initially began back in 1975 almost parallel to the building of what is currently Otp banka, the former Istrian bank (Istarska banka).

Pula locals remember the centre with sadness and nostalgia, as their thoughts take them back to what the centre once was, back in the 1980s, writes HRT.

”You could find the goods you wanted like nowhere else in the world, everything was sold at a good price, which is important, not like now. The service was great, it was always crowded, people kept coming in, going out, you couldn’t get through the door, you could literally barely get in, and now… only Dragan is there,” said Nihad Kadić with sadness.

And Dragan, if you were wondering, is a joiner. He opened up his shop at the bottom of the Pula department store on the very same day it opened. He is, rather symbolically, the last one left, and he and his son continue to repair shoes there. They are the witnesses to the daily demise of a former, once extremely popular, Pula department store.

The building was owned by Puljanka, once the largest Pula trading company. But with its difficulties in doing business, followed by bankruptcy, saw the Pula shopping centre get passed from hand to hand. It is now in the hands of a British fund. It was set to become a 100-room city hotel, but none of those plans came to fruition. The building is privately owned and the City of Pula cannot get involved in it, but they do have a wish – to turn it into a car park.

”It would be a project of the City of Pula that we would wholeheartedly support and do our best to implement as soon as possible,” said Pula’s deputy mayor, Robert Cvek.

The law firm representing the British fund are very well-known Zagreb lawyers, they were also the legal advisers in the enormous Agrokor case which shook Croatia’s economy until quite recently. Unfortunately, no answer to the question of what the new owner intends to do with the Pula department store has been provided as yet.

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