Wanda Group has announced that it is opening 17 new Wanda Plaza shopping centres in the last five weeks of this year, accounting for 34.7 percent of the company’s total new mall openings for 2018.
The surge of new debuts for Dalian Wanda Commercial Management, the primary business of mainland tycoon Wang Jianlin, comes after the developer staged a strategic retreat from its tourism and overseas development business over the last 18 months after running into government criticism over its RMB 400 billion in debts.
The new mall openings, which are spread across second- and third-tier cities in China, include a set of three malls opened on November 30th in Chongqing, Henan and Fujian.
New Openings to Include 700,000 Square Metre Mega-Project
The largest of the three newly opened malls include the Chongqing Shapingba Wanda Plaza, a 158,000 square metre (1.7 million square foot) shopping centre that the developer built on a site it purchased in late 2016 for RMB 201 million. Located in a core district of the largest city in western China, the Shapingba Wanda Plaza is the developer’s seventh mall in Chongqing. The company is also said to have already completed the Tongliang Wanda Plaza in the city’s suburban Tonglian district, although no official opening date has been revealed for that project.
The other projects opened on November 30th include the 115,000 square metre Xuchang Wanda Plaza in the city of Xuchang in Henan province and the 120,000 square metre Nanping Wanda Plaza in Fujian.
The remaining pipeline of 14 projects are slated to open by December 29th across second- and third-tier cities in Inner Mongolia, Yunnan, Jiangsu, Anhu, Henan, Hunan and Fujian provinces.
The set of upcoming projects includes the 700,000 square metre Nanjing Lishui Wanda Plaza, a mixed-use development that will feature a mall, commercial office space and residences. For most of the cities the newly launched Wanda Plazas will be the first Wanda commercial property in the city.
Portfolio Grows to 285 Malls
After completing the upcoming launches, China’s largest commercial real estate developer will have opened 49 Wanda Plazas this year, bringing the company’s total portfolio of shopping centres to 285 nationwide.
The developer, which opened the first Wanda Plaza in 2013 in Changchun, said at the end of last year that it had a goal of building 1,000 Wanda Plaza by the end of 2028. Wanda has been opening an average of about 50 Wanda Plazas annually to reach that goal.
Wanda Gets Back to Its Roots
Once the fastest-expanding developer in China, Wanda Group was reported to be carrying RMB 420.5 billion in debt at the middle of this year. In January of this year, the financially troubled conglomerate vowed to go “asset-light”, and has since reduced its debts by selling assets domestically and worldwide.
In late October, Wanda parted ways with the last of its tourism assets when it agreed to hand over the management company responsible for managing its 13 existing tourism cities, as well as its Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis, a film production studio Wang had planned as the Hollywood of Asia, to China Sunac Holdings for RMB 6.28 billion.
One month later, Wanda agreed to sell the eight acre (32,375 square metre) One Beverly Hills site along Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, which was among the company’s last remaining properties in what had once been a $5 billion overseas property portfolio.