CAPITALAND marked a record year of one million square metres of retail space offering with the opening of its largest mall yet in the Chinese city of Suzhou.
The Suzhou Center Mall is also the largest shopping centre in the Chinese city and more than three times the size of ION Orchard in Singapore - spanning close to 300,000 square metres in gross floor area (GFA) excluding car park.
It boasts over 600 retail brands housed within an architectural masterpiece.
The mall is located in the heart of the western central business district (CBD) of Suzhou Industrial Park, right next to the historic Jinji Lake and traditional Suzhou city centre.
The sprawling Suzhou Center Mall is the centrepiece of the Suzhou Center integrated development that also comprises four Grade A office towers, two luxury residential towers and the W Suzhou hotel tower, which are all interconnected.
With a total GFA of 1.13 million square metres served by a newly built 1,570-metre underground tunnel leading to its basement car park and directly linked to two metro lines, Suzhou Center is positioned as the city's new CBD and is master developed by Suzhou Hengtai Holding Group, which is owned by the Suzhou Industrial Park government.
CapitaLand, through its wholly owned shopping business CapitaLand Mall Asia, is the co-owner and co-developer for the shopping mall and two 21-storey office towers, which opened for business in the third quarter of this year.
CapitaLand's president and group chief executive officer Lim Ming Yan said the mall's opening caps a record year for CapitaLand.
"Close to one million square metres of retail GFA across eight developments turned operational in 2017, marking our largest ever retail GFA offering in a single year," he said.
Jason Leow, CEO of CapitaLand Mall Asia, said that as at end-September, about 85 per cent of CapitaLand's total assets contribute to recurring income, of which shopping malls and integrated developments form the bulk.
"As we increase CapitaLand's recurring income base with the opening of new malls, we will also continue to enhance our retail scale and network through acquisitions and management contracts, as well as reconstitute our portfolio to achieve an optimal asset mix that provides us with stability and a strong recurring income stream," he added.
Designed by multiple award-winning architectural firm Benoy, the seven-storey Suzhou Center Mall has a gently undulating roof that is the world's largest free-form monocoque roof at over 36,000 square metres.
Shaped like a pair of phoenix's wings to symbolise Suzhou's growth taking flight, the multi-coloured roof is made up of 6,947 pieces of uniquely-shaped curved glass.
Suzhou Center Mall also boasts 60,000 square metres of greenery across its numerous outdoor terraces, rooftops and the landscaped cantilever bridges that extend from two ends of the mall to the lakefront.
A 45 metre wide and 25 metre high water curtain lies on the mall's facade facing Jinji Lake.
The mall opened with more than 90 per cent lease commitment for its net lettable area of approximately 152,000 square metres.
The anchor tenants among the mall's over 600 brands include Suzhou's first CGV cinemas, its first Fanpekka children's theme park, the first indoor simulated counter strike gaming centre, an Olympic-size ice rink, a gourmet supermarket and a food court.
About 30 per cent of the mall's offerings are new entrants to Suzhou, including Victoria's Secret, Forever 21 and HAY furniture store. H&M and Zara will operate triplex stores in the mall - their biggest outlets in Suzhou.
CapitaLand said that with the opening of Suzhou Center Mall, 61 out of its total portfolio of 69 owned and managed malls in China are operational.
Across Singapore, China, Malaysia, Japan and India, CapitaLand owns and manages 109 malls, of which 95 have opened.
Source: The Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission