July 17, 2007

[SIZE="5"][B]CapitaLand, Far East unveil first new Orchard malls in 10 years[/B][/SIZE]

[B]Each mall promises to offer 400 shops and food outlets, as well as novelties[/B]

By Fiona Chan, Property Reporter

[SIZE="1"]NEW MALLS RISING: Two shopping centres - Ion Orchard (above) and Orchard Central - are set to open along Orchard Road next year. Both are expected to break ground with unusual design. One will include a 'jewel box' - a glass-fronted shop to be suspended in mid-air - and the other, a 15,000 sq ft 'beauty hall. -- CAPITALAND, FAR EAST ORGANIZATION[/SIZE]

IT WAS a battle of the malls yesterday as two property giants unveiled plans for their respective shopping centres along Orchard Road.

CapitaLand and Hong Kong's Sun Hung Kai Properties took centre stage in the morning to reveal Ion Orchard, the mall to be constructed at Orchard Turn above the Orchard MRT station. Cost: $700 million.

Far East Organization had its turn a few hours later when it held the marketing launch of Orchard Central, which is going up next to the Somerset MRT station. Cost: $650 million.

The malls - both will open by the end of next year - are the first brand-new shopping centres to rise along Orchard Road in more than a decade.

Each will have about 400 shops and food outlets, many promising some novelties for jaded shoppers.

Ion Orchard will be breaking plenty of new ground, said Mr Pua Seck Guan, chief executive of CapitaLand Retail. Six out of 10 tenants will either be new to Singapore, trying new concepts or opening a flagship store.

At Orchard Central, the shop spaces themselves will be innovations.

In a bid to break out of the standard 'three walls and a roller shutter' approach, the mall's units will have unusual designs, said Mrs Vivienne Tan, president of Far East Retail Consultancy.

These include underground shops, ramp shops, restaurants with outdoor balcony seating and a special 'jewel box' - a glass-fronted shop to be suspended in mid-air outside the building.

Neither Ion Orchard nor Orchard Central will have a supermarket or a department store. Instead, they will focus on boutique retailers and sort them into themed clusters for easy shopping.

Ion Orchard will have a 15,000 sq ft beauty hall showcasing products and services offered by a myriad brands, said mall chief executive Soon Su Lin. It will also boast a 30,000 sq ft food hall with restaurants, delis and takeaway outlets.

The mall will also have a 33,000 sq ft public event atrium, an art exhibition space on the fourth floor and an observation deck on the 55th and 56th floors.

Another feature will be six large duplex flagship stores fronting Orchard Road, in which Ms Soon hopes to house 'the top six brands in the world', although she said it was too early to reveal which these were.

'These are for the top brands to build their own signature flagship buildings, like at Champs-Elysees in Paris or Ginza in Tokyo,' she said.

Orchard Central - which will open from 11am to 11pm daily - will also have similar multi-level shop spaces for flagship stores.

With 13 storeys - 11 above ground and two below - it will be Orchard Road's tallest mall. It will also have 160 metres of frontage onto the shopping stretch - the second longest behind Ngee Ann City - and about 250,000 sq ft of net lettable area.

Ion Orchard, which will have 663,000 sq ft of net lettable area - about half that of VivoCity - will have eight levels: four above ground and four basement floors. CapitaLand Retail's Mr Pua said the mall may be put into CapitaMall Trust in time.

Both malls are expected to bring in similar shopper traffic of between 80,000 and 100,000 visitors on weekdays and about 30 per cent more on weekends.

[email][email protected][/email]