Hong Kong’s Swire Properties, the developer behind Taikoo Li Sanlitun, has teamed up with a mainland firm to revive a moribund mall across the street from its landmark retail complex in Beijing.
Through the partnership agreement, announced this week, Swire will take out a long-term lease on the Yashow Mall from Beijing Kuntai Real Estate Development Group, according to a statement by the Hong Kong-listed developer.
The approximately 30,000 square metre property is located on North Gongti Road, directly to the west of Taikoo Li Sanlitun. After the upgrade, the property will be temporarily renamed West Taikoo Li Sanlitun to complement the existing North and South Taikoo Li Sanlitun projects.
Former Clothing Market May Get a New Lease on Life
Yashow (or Yaxiu) Mall was home to a bustling, four-storey clothing bazaar until it was shuttered for a makeover in December 2014. After an extensive repositioning effort aimed at creating an upscale retail venue, the mall reopened in September 2015 with most of its former small vendors replaced by larger, branded shops.
The new incarnation of the mall proved to be an effective consumption inhibitor, as shoppers avoided its combination of high prices and downmarket atmosphere. The property is said to have been nearly deserted for a year, after most of its retail tenants bailed out amid plummeting foot traffic.
Swire has hired Miami-based international architecture firm Arquitectonica to revive the zombie retail centre into a set of free-standing buildings, like the adjacent Swire complex. The new layout is aimed at attracting shoppers through open layouts, abundant natural light and an art gallery theme.
In the Chinese-language statement, Swire Properties’ mainland China CEO Tim Blackburn commented that Swire has always been committed to the creative integration of local culture and international business concepts. The revamped Yashow Mall will mutually reinforce the company’s adjacent projects and will help upgrade the entire Sanlitun area, he added.
Swire Looks To Build on Success of Taikoo Li Sanlitun
With its new effort, Swire appears to be hoping to replicate the success of its Taikoo Li Sanlitun development, the company’s first completed project in mainland China. Launched in 2008, the popular project in the centre of Choayang district is a 136,00 square metre, open-lane complex with over 240 stores and restaurants, a boutique hotel and a pair of event venues.
Detailed plans for Yashow Mall have yet to be revealed, but market sources have speculated that the repositioning strategy may focus on food and beverage outlets and could include a co-working element. It’s not clear whether the Sanlitun area, known as a nightlife and shopping hub, can support another high-end retail development. Working in the project’s favour is a major “cleanup” of the neighbourhood by the municipal government, which has removed many illegal outlets and made the area more pedestrian-friendly.
Old School Hong Kong Hooks Up With Mainland SOE
Swire’s newest partner is a state-owned enterprise controlled by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) of Chaoyang district. Founded in 1992, Kuntai Group has assets of over RMB 10 billion ($1.5 billion), with a portfolio spanning over 20 office, retail, and hotel properties in the district, including Kuntai International Center Commercial Street, Kuntai Building, Fullink Plaza, and Kuntai International Hotel.
Arquitectonica previously worked with Swire Properties to design the company’s flagship project in Guangzhou, the mixed-use, 358,000 square metre TaiKoo Hui complex. The studio has also teamed up with Swire Hotels on its first US project, a hospitality property in Miami’s Brickell downtown district dubbed EAST, Miami.
Swire and fellow Hong Kong developer KHRI last month held the official opening party for HKRI Taikoo Hui, a 322,000 square metre integrated mega-project on Shanghai’s West Nanjing Road.