China is the center of some of the world’s most cutting-edge innovation in online retail driven by tech juggernauts Alibaba, JD.com and Tencent. But it doesn’t mean there aren’t ambitious projects in terms of creativity and scale in the off-line space, too.
On Sept. 8, Plaza 66 in Shanghai will relaunch, expanding from 538,000 to 2.8 million square feet. Parent company Hang Lung Properties is throwing a big bash and has Alicia Keys set to perform for a guest list that includes David LaChapelle and Tommy Ton. Once considered the go-to destination for luxury shopping in Shanghai, the mall had fallen behind somewhat in recent years as new players came on the scene.
Just down the road from Plaza 66, Swire Properties is readying its 17 billion renminbi, or $2.55 billion, China flagship, HKRI Taikoo Hui. The mixed-use complex spanning 3.5 million square feet includes two office towers, two boutique hotels, serviced apartments and a shopping mall. Although the retail section had a soft opening in May, its grand opening is scheduled for later this year.
Golden Eagle Retail is also working on a flagship property although in Nanjing, opening in the fourth quarter of the year. Called Golden Eagle World, the company said it expects the almost 10 million square foot property to generate more than 10 billion renminbi, or $1.5 billion, a year, and will include unusual offerings such as a car museum, rooftop spa and a handicrafts market. Management said it was positioning “Golden Eagle World, as the new urban commercial landmark of East China and even the entire China.”
Galeries Lafayette has confirmed its second China location with partner I.T in Shanghai to be completed before March 2019, although with a somewhat interesting choice of location in Pudong. The east side of the Huangpu River holds most of the city’s skyscrapers and is concentrated with corporate offices, while much of the shopping has traditionally taken place on the other side in Puxi.
Lifestyle International, which operates Sogo in Hong Kong, is rehauling its business, too. It completed the spin-off of its mainland China stores last year under the Jiuguang name into a separately listed company. Later in the fall, it will complete the renovation of its main store in Causeway Bay, hoisting a LED screen the size of eight tennis courts on one of the city’s busiest intersections. However, that pales in comparison to the 13 billion Hong Kong dollar, or $1.66 billion, shopping hub the company has broken ground on in Hong Kong’s eastern Kowloon. Pegged to be a Sogo department store and a shopping mall, about 90 percent of the 1.1 million square feet will be dedicated to retail.