The retail centre of eastern China may have started shifting slightly to the west today, as Singaporean retail developer CapitaMalls broke ground on what is planned to be the region’s largest shopping mall in Suzhou.
The development, which will have a total gross floor area (GFA) of about 290,000 square metres is being developed as a joint venture with Suzhou Industrial Park which is effectively a new urban centre in this community just west of Shanghai.
Under the terms of a joint venture between CapitaMalls Asia and a unit of Suzhou Industrial Park named SIPJUD, the two sides will co-develop and own the seven-storey shopping mall and two Grade-A office towers that comprise the project.
The shopping mall will have a total area of about 250,000 square metres, and the two Grade A office towers will have a total gross floor area of about 60,000 square metres.
SIPJUD is owned by the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) government, and is the master developer of the SIP Central Business District (CBD), known as the Suzhou Centre.
The total development cost of the project is expected to be about RMB 6,740 million and CapitaMalls Asia and SIPJUD each hold a 50 per cent stake in the joint venture.
In an interview with the media, Mr Xu Guoping, President of SIPJUD said: “In 2011, Suzhou’s retail sales grew faster than the national average, increasing 17.8 per cent to RMB 283 billion. We are thus confident about the retail prospects in Suzhou.”
Catering to upper middle and high-income shoppers, the shopping centre offerings will include luxury brands, high-street fashion brands and family entertainment. The mall will also house an Olympic-size ice rink and a cineplex.
The shopping mall will serve a catchment population of over 4.5 million in Suzhou as well as a total of about 12 million residents in the Greater Suzhou region.
In a statement last year when the project was first announced, CapitaMalls said it picked Suzhou for its prospects as China’s fifth-largest city by gross domestic product and proximity to Shanghai via a 30-minute train ride. The company is a unit of CapitaLand Ltd. (CAPL), Southeast Asia’s biggest developer.
CapitaMalls, which developed ION Orchard in Singapore, has 55 shopping retail properties in China, including the Raffles City developments in Beijing and Shanghai.