Uno Mall 富力天汇
The property on which Chengdu's Uno Tianhui Mall opened late this November has, for the past decade, been a huge question mark in the minds of many city residents. Having sat dormant for nearly 20 years, the later of which with a partially completed building on it, the massive lot seemed to be a huge oversight by property developers right in the central city.
The property was referred to as the Panda Mall, and its developers promised that it would be among China's 10 biggest shopping centers. The claims didn't seem too far-fetched for a structure that sat on a 500,000 sqm site (for reference, all of Chunxi Lu measures out to 220,000 sqm). But at some point the development was abandoned and left, and finally, in 2006, Uno put up RMB3 billion to finish the development and open up the mall.
Uno Mall, and the broader development project around it, has been touted by local media as one of the city's most important construction projects of the decade alongside the plaza at Tianfu Square and the Tianfu Square Metro interchange station, and it is expected that the Luomashi shopping area will eventually rival Chunxi Lu and Yanshikou as an important retail center.
The mall's 250,000 square meters of floor space, in addition to the 30,000-sqm Grand Buy Department Store (广百百货) already open, will boast an ice-skating rink, a cinema, a 20,000-sqm luxury cars gallery, a 120,000-sqm roof garden with a 300-sqm climate-controlled indoor swimming pool, and because the complex is located in the heart of one of Chengdu's furniture-retail areas, a 60,000-sqm furniture gallery. The Marriot Hotel Group has plans to open a Ritz-Carlton Hotel on the site by 2012. Brand-wise, it will be home to a Mannings, Uniqlo, H&M and its neighbor, the dubiously named HIM, and a number of the usual suspects—Nike, Converse, E-Land, and so on.
While its scale pales in comparison to that of Uno's (200 shops spread out over 50,000 sqm and five stories), Galleria's far and wide promotion leading up to the weeks of its late November opening ensured that shoppers made a beeline to catch the first day of picking through goods and queuing at Chengdu's very first H&M, Zara, Mango, and Sephora shops. Billed as Chengdu's first international-standard shopping mall and situated next to European retailers Ikea, Decathlon, and Auchan in the south, Galleria's arrival makes that region of the city, according to property developers, a "mature" retail area.
Lan Kwai Fong 兰桂坊
Promoted as Chengdu's only one-stop shopping, dining, and entertainment megaplex, Lan Kwai Fong has been open since early summer, but is celebrating its grand opening with the coming of the new year. Currently, there's more dining and drinking than shopping (one lonely Vans outlet, plus a clothing shop or two) on offer at the Hong Kong-branded district, but we're told that will change.
Jinniu City Square 金牛城市广场
For 30 years, the behemoth of a wholesale market near the North Railway Station known as the Lotus Wholesale Market (荷花池) has served as Chengdu residents' go-to place for cheap goods. But earlier this year, entire blocks started shutting down, and shops relocating. That's because the whole area is undergoing a makeover to become the "Chunxi Lu of the north" within the next three years.
In the 1980s, the area now known as the Lotus Market was little more than an area with a lotus pond called Honghua Nian (红花埝/"Red Flower Bank"). By 1986, the city business bureau decided to develop the area. It was officially renamed Lotus Market, and money was invested to encourage merchants to populate the area with shops selling clothing, shoes, and other goods. With traffic from the north train station, the area quickly flourished and became Chengdu's first real wholesale market. In those years, vendors could earn a few hundred yuan each month—as much as other workers in Chengdu earned in half a year.
Over the years, the Lotus Market established itself as an important distribution channel for southwest China, with goods going to Tibet, Chongqing, Guizhou, and Yunnan. Today the area employs over 100,000 workers, and its daily sales exceed RMB10 million, making it one of the country's top 10 markets.
However, the area's organic development has led to a haphazard layout and buildings that are in dire need of upgrading and retrofitting. After several incidents of fire over the years, and with customers' rising standards, the Jinniu District is renovating the entire area. Apart from cosmetic improvements, buildings with be modernized with elevators and temperature control, and the market will be rearranged into departments, organized by type of goods sold.
The area will be renamed Jinniu City Square and is slated for completion by the end of 2012. When done it will encompass not only the retail area, but also entertainment facilities, SOHO residential building, and more.
—Information from West China Commercial Daily
Diyi Dadao 地一大道
Decades before the Metro system, Chengdu already had an elaborate system of underground passageways. It was known as the Tianzuo Shangcheng, and its history stretches back 40 years. The system was home to shops and entertainment venues before business dwindled and the whole system was shut down while construction on Metro Line 1 began.
But in April 2010, the Renhe Commercial Holdings Co., Ltd. paid RMB289 million for development rights to the passageway, aiming to turn the 40,000-sqm tunnel network into a 90,000-sqm shopping center by the time it opens. The new retail area will be called Diyi Dadao (地一大道), a recognized brand of underground shopping centers that Renhe operates or is constructing in over a dozen Chinese cities.
The dozens of rainbow-framed entrances and exits along Shuncheng Dajie, Yanshikou, and Dongyu Jie will be open 24 hours, and the two-story network of pedestrian passages will connect the Tianfu Square Metro station to the city's central shopping areas as well as 16 downtown buildings.
Registration for shops took place in September and a crowd of over 10,000 merchants hoping to nab a shop space in the underground center, which Renhe expects will attract daily traffic of over 200,000 pedestrians. Over the next three years, the company plans to expand the floor space to 300,00 square meters.
Construction on the shopping area started in June 2010 and is expected to be in operation within the first half of 2011.
New Century City World Center新世纪环球中心
Part of a huge complex billed as the world's largest standalone structure, the gargantuan shopping center here will be only one building among several, including an arts center, an aquarium, and residential and office spaces. The property, developed by one of western China's largest developers, the Exhibition and Travel Group, will contain two 1,000-room five-star hotels and 300,000 square meters of shopping centers encompassing an ice-skating rink, a luxury IMAX theater, game arcades, and so forth. The building, slated to become an important Chengdu landmark, will also feature what is being billed as the world's largest glass dome ceiling. The entire complex is projected for a 2012 completion date.
TV Tower 电视塔
Every year, the TV Tower promises to open "next year," and every year, we're disappointed again. Never mind the shopping (of which we're assured there'll be plenty): We want to get to the top and look out across this ever-expanding city we live in. Sichuan Online reported in late 2008 that the observation deck would be open by spring 2009, and that the plaza surrounding it—allegedly the future home to a movie and television culture plaza with state-of-the-art cinema, broadcasting facilities, and shopping—would be done in 2010. Well, that year's over and done with, and still no signs of opening. For a country that has a reputation for breathtakingly speedy construction, this is one project that's proceeding at a snail's pace.
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