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Where high finance meets high living

The new downtown will boast a casino, a financial hub, condos and retail areas

TIRED of Orchard Road? Jaded by Clarke Quay? Finding Robertson Walk just a trifle same-old, same-old? For the Singapore consumer – probably among the most avid in the world – Marina Bay may be the next big thing.

The new downtown will be home to a casino, a financial centre and several sparkling condominiums, so not surprisingly, shops and restaurants are eager for a presence there.

‘The Marina Bay area presents many exciting opportunities for both the business and leisure market,’ said Sulian Tan-Wijaya, general manager of The Fullerton Heritage, which is developing a string of commercial properties along the waterfront.

‘Our development is at the heart of the Central Business District, the Marina Bay Sands casino, the Esplanade theatres, new high-end residences like The Sail and The Clift, and the nearby Civic District,’ she said.

Edgar Huang, manager of marketing services for Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, said the arts-performance centre expects to see ‘even more buzz in the area, with more people coming to work and live and play here’. The theatres, open since 2002 and famous for their domes that have been likened to durians, are also adjacent to a shopping mall.

David Martin, general manager of Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC), which will consist of high-rise office towers as well as retail space, estimates there will be 50,000 people living and working in the ‘immediate vicinity’ of the financial hub from 2011.

Along with the visitors who are sure to flock to the adjacent Sands, ‘we believe this creates a compelling offer to potential retail tenants, and this is also the feedback we are getting from the market’, he said.

Events being held in and around the public areas of Marina Bay will also help draw in the crowds, said the Esplanade’s MrHuang.

‘Marina Bay is also currently host to many celebrations like National Day, the Fireworks Festival and the New Year’s Day celebrations,’ he said.

Upcoming events like the Chingay street parade and the Grand Prix Formula One race, which Singapore will host in September next year, will also attract visitors, he added.

To entice what promises to be a diverse range of consumers, each developer is adopting a slightly different marketing tack.

The Fullerton development, for example, is aiming to be high-end and historical.

‘In addition to the Fullerton Hotel and a new waterfront 100-room luxury hotel, the Fullerton Heritage Precinct will offer a range of chic, trendy and elegant retail and dining experiences,’ said Ms Tan-Wijaya.

‘These include conservation buildings such as The Fullerton Waterboat House, Clifford Pier and Customs House, as well as One Fullerton,’ she said.

One Fullerton will revamp its second floor and offer even more food and beverage outlets, which should attract tourists who visit the nearby Merlion Park, she said.

The Esplanade is pitching itself as a kind of natural retail extension for the arts lover. ‘It’s a lifestyle experience pegged to the arts,’ said Mr Huang.

‘Besides coming here for a show, you can start or end your evening with drinks and food,’ he added. ‘There are many shops closely related to the arts for art lovers, and those unfamiliar with the arts won’t feel out of place either.’

Mr Huang said that business at the Esplanade has been bustling since its inception.

‘It’s been positive here at Esplanade Mall,’ he said. ‘The Esplanade also presents over 70 per cent of our artistic programmes free, which means visitors will always have something to look forward to after a meal or a visit to the shops.’

He said that some of the main attractions of the mall are the food centre Makansutra Gluttons Bay, award-winning restaurant My Humble House and library@esplanade, Singapore’s first performing-arts library.

Not forgetting the small but unusual Tatami Shop – ‘the world’s first tatami furnishings retailer outside Japan’, said Mr Huang.

Suntec City Mall, which welcomed its first customers in 1997, says its retail concept is ‘a little something for everyone’. The shopping centre’s larger tenants include hypermarket Carrefour and fashion retailers Mango, La Senza and Lacoste. It also boasts the gigantic Fountain of Wealth, which attracts visitors from all over the world.

‘Also, Suntec City Mall houses the embarkation point for the many tourists going for the Duck Tours and Hippo tours,’ said Marilyn Tan, investor relations manager at ARA Trust Management (Suntec).

As for the MBFC, Mr Martin said the financial hub aims to be ‘a vibrant and prestigious, yet convenient, shopping and dining precinct for the internationally-minded’.

Retail in the MBFC would address a ‘market gap’ in the central business district for serving the needs of higherincome earners and residents, he said. ‘This group of customers wants much more than what a conventional mixeduse centre offers. MBFC is designed as a place where residents, the office population and visitors can satisfy their everyday needs without leaving the business and financial district.’

Of the development’s 160,000 sq ft of underground retail space, about half will be for shops and the other half for food and beverage, he said. In addition, there will be a restaurant on the 33rd floor of the Tower One office block.

‘MBFC is in talks with a number of leading retail interests to be located within the centre,’ he said. The development will offer dining and entertainment options for ‘a spectrum of tastes’.

Then, of course, there is Marina Bay Sands, which will open in 2009. Its developers, Las Vegas Sands, declined to comment at this stage on the specifics of upcoming shops and restaurants.

Besides the casino, the entire integrated resort, as it is called, will feature three 50-storey hotel towers, linked by a two-acre Sky Garden. Not to mention an Arts and Sciences Museum shaped like a welcoming gesture, and onemillion square feet of ‘integrated waterside promenade and shopping arcade’, according to its website.

Clearly, there will be loads of shopping and dining opportunities there. So hang on to your hats, Singapore consumer – if not your purses.

 

Source: Busines Times 29 Nov 07

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