When Kardan NV first ventured into the Chinese market more than a decade ago, the European developer focussed on riding the urbanisation wave by building up a portfolio of residential projects in fast-growing second-tier and third-tier markets across the mainland.
Now the developer is turning its full attention to Europark Dalian (大连凯丹天地), a pioneering mixed-use project in one of China’s most important coastal cities. The 327,489 square metre project in the northeastern city of Dalian is the only mixed-use complex in the emerging district of Donggang, where the municipal government is investing RMB 210 billion ($33 billion) to create a new urban centre overlooking the sea.
Kardan’s project features the city’s first European-themed shopping centre and the neighbourhood’s first premium serviced residences – helping to catalyse the growth of Donggang, where developers have rushed in to bring over 23,000 housing units to the market.
Bringing a New Commercial Hub to Life
Europark Dalian is Kardan’s second commercial project in China since the Amsterdam-based firm set up its mainland arm Kardan Land China in 2005. The six-building complex integrates Galleria Dalian, a 104,000 square metre shopping centre that opened its doors in August 2015; two SOHO office buildings; a pair of luxury apartment buildings; and the 259-unit Fraser Suites Dalian, which had its grand opening in May of this year.
Kardan’s latest mixed-use property provides a centre of gravity for Dalian’s most dynamic district. The Donggang (or East Harbour) area within Zhongshan district has hosted a construction boom, as local authorities seek to transform the neighbourhood along the eastern extension of Renmin Road into a new downtown precinct similar to the Beijing CBD. In addition to Kardan’s offering, the area has spawned at least 20 residential developments along with four office projects.
“We are the first international developer to take part in this landmark urbanisation scheme,” commented Walter Van Damme, CEO of Kardan Land China. “The city government aims to turn Donggang into Dalian’s premier hub for living, working, and shopping, and Europark Dalian is an integral part of that vision.”
Just down the street from Europark, Shanghai-based Greenland Group is building the city’s tallest skyscraper, the 88-storey Dalian Greenland Center, and Beijing’s Luneng Group is developing a Four Seasons hotel in the same area. Also nearby, Hong Kong’s Great Eagle is developing Dalian East Harbour, 286,000 square metre luxury residential and hospitality project that will feature a Langham hotel.
Situated among this cluster of major projects, Europark is connected to the new Metro Line 2, with easy access to various points of interest in Donggang, including six kilometres of coastline along the Bohai Sea, a 200,000 square metre musical fountain, and a sprawling Sea Park. The project is also a short walk from Dalian Port and the Dalian International Convention Center.
Expanding Beyond Residential into Long-Term Commercial Projects
Kardan’s first mixed-use development in northeast China builds on the company’s track record of developing and operating more than 130 commercial and residential projects globally, including some of Europe’s most successful retail and office properties.
In China, the developer has already invested over $2.5 billion assembling a residential and commercial portfolio spanning more than three million square metres. Kardan has built and sold four apartment projects in the cities of Shenyang, Xianyang and Changzhou.
The company’s first foray into commercial property in China, Galleria Chengdu, opened in the southwestern city in 2010. Kardan later sold a 50 percent stake in the 53,619 square metre shopping centre to a fund managed by MGPA (now part of BlackRock) in 2011, before offloading the entirety of the property to a BlackRock fund in 2014.
Kardan Bets on Dalian
Kardan bought the site for Europark Dalian in 2008, and sold off two of the apartment buildings in 2014 and 2015, the latter to serviced residence operator Frasers Hospitality Group. The apartments have almost sold out, while the five-story Galleria Dalian now boasts a solid retail occupancy rate. Kardan bills the property, which sports an array of global brands from Decathlon to Nike, as the largest family-oriental mall in northeast China.
“Our expertise in building successful communities in China’s secondary cities proved to be a natural fit with Dalian, a regional economic centre that is raising its international profile,” noted Walter Van Damme, CEO of Kardan Land China. “This latest project is also a vote of confidence in Dalian’s future.”
The second-largest metropolis in Liaoning province, Dalian serves as the financial centre of northeast China and an international logistics hub. The port city of around six million people boasted a GDP of RMB 681 billion ($105 billion) in 2016, driven mainly by the tertiary sector.
Chinese authorities are betting on the city’s growth. Last year saw the official launch of the State Council-backed Liaoning Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ), which incorporates the 60 square kilometre Dalian Area.
Europark Dalian in Pictures
This sponsored feature was contributed by Kardan Land. To learn more about Kardan Land and its projects, please visit www.kardanland.com.