MEXICO CITY A $166 million luxury mall, billed as Mexico’s largest, saw its opening timeline delayed to next year from the second half of 2021 as the pandemic has stalled the country’s building sector.

“The pandemic hit Quintana Roo [State] and the Riviera Maya area very badly with many infections and deaths,” conceded Claudia Chavez, treasury manager at builder Gicsa, who operates several malls in Latin America’s second-largest economy. “We are not going to open this year, but could in 2022.”

The Grand Outlet Riviera Maya, set to measure almost 1 million square feet of mixed retail, restaurant and entertainment space, will dwarf its biggest rival, Antara Fashion Hall in Mexico City, in sheer size though not in total leasable space, according to Chavez, who said construction has now sped up though the site is about one-third built.

Upmarket brands, however, have shown enthusiasm in the so-called mall-tertaintment’s sales potential, due mainly to the fact that it’s located near Cancun’s International Airport and in the so-called Riviera Maya Beach Resort, where many affluent Americans travel each year.

“This mall targets international tourists,” Chavez added. “We will have the best luxury brands mixed with many restaurants and great entertainment areas, including a lake and eventually even an amusement park.”

Labels such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Coach, CK Calvin Klein and Rapsodia have signed contracts to open some of the site’s 190 scheduled shops, with 620,000 square feet of commercial space now above 43 percent booked, said Chavez.

She added luxury sales are firming in Mexico and stand to gain strongly in the second half compared to the first six months of the year, when much of the country operated under the Red Light, or COVID-19’s most critical stage, but now have switched mostly to yellow and green amid a massive vaccination campaign.

“The light is yellow in Quintana Roo and we hope it will be green soon. Sales are improving and that’s great news for the brands that want to work with us, which see the mall’s potential,” Chavez said.

Gisca also recently opened a mega-mall in Culiacan, Mexico, though Chavez said it’s not as luxurious as the future Grand Mall ,even though the firm spent $123 million to build it. Some of its other malls operate in Pachuca and Puebla, which are a short drive from Mexico’s capital.