Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Katong Mall gets $60m facelift

Makeover to give 20-year-old mall a cinema, mix of F&B outlets and upmarket brands

THE 20-year-old Katong Mall in East Coast Road will undergo a $60 million facelift.

When it reopens in the third quarter of next year, the mall will have about 150 shops including a cinema, retail outlets as well as a myriad of food and beverage outlets, pubs and bars.

The current five-storey building will have an additional floor built at the top to house a Golden Village cineplex.

There will also be an additional basement level to ease the building's parking squeeze. The extra level will boost the maximum capacity of its carpark to 310 spaces, from the current 179.

The mall will also have a Peranakan-themed concept to fit the neighbourhood, which has historically been a Peranakan enclave in Singapore. The management said it will also consider bringing in tenants that tie in with the theme, such as Peranakan restaurants.

The new look for Katong Mall is the developer's overall plan to jazz up the building to appeal to the affluent working professionals living in the area.

Previously, the tenants in the mall were mainly educational and child enrichment services such as tuition and dance classes.

'We hope to better the experience for our retail customers as we redevelop the site into a more vibrant hub with an exciting and desirable tenant mix,' said Mr Loh Chin Hua, managing director of Alpha Investment Partners, which holds a majority stake in Katong Mall.

The mall, which will be renamed, was bought over earlier this year from Tuan Sing Holdings for $247.55 million.

The new owners are a consortium of investors brought together by Mr Pua Seck Guan, chief executive officer of Perennial Real Estate.

The mall had previously faced controversy when 23 of its former tenants banded together to lodge a protest with the Strata Titles Board against the collective sale of the shopping complex in late 2007. The matter was eventually resolved early last year when the objection was withdrawn by the tenants.

All previous tenants have now moved out and the new management said there are no immediate plans to bring any of them back.

'We have to consider the positioning of the new mall as a lifestyle and F&B hub,' said Mr Pua. 'However, we will still consider the old tenants if they fit in with this concept,' he added.

In the past, the mall was largely patronised by young students on their way to various enrichment programmes and after-school activities.

Now, the management wants to attract professionals in the vicinity who have spending power.

Mr Pua said the new mall will aim for more upmarket brands to draw in those who live nearby, who mostly live in private houses and condominiums.

The mall has already signed up three anchor tenants - Golden Village (GV), Cold Storage and BreadTalk Group - which will occupy about 32 per cent of the available space between them.

GV's eight screening halls will have two of its more upmarket Gold Class halls - the first such halls in the eastern part of the island.

Cold Storage's supermarket will also be of a more upscale concept, known as Market Place, which is also the first in the east. Other Market Place outlets are found in the city, such as in shopping complexes Paragon and Tanglin Mall.

The revamped mall is also a first for several other reasons.

It is Mr Pua's first local venture in property since stepping down as chief executive of CapitaLand Retail in November 2008, after about eight years with the company.

It will also mark BreadTalk's first venture into retail property investment as it holds about an 8 per cent stake in the mall.

BreadTalk chairman George Quek said: 'After 10 years of opening our food and beverage outlets in malls, I've seen and learnt how they work. This area also suits us as we do not have many of our brands here.'

The BreadTalk Group operates the BreadTalk bakeries, Food Republic food courts, and the Din Tai Fung and RamenPlay restaurants.

To Katong residents, this new shopping mall is a welcome addition to the neighbourhood.

'I'm really looking forward to having a movie theatre in the area because it will be so much more convenient when I want to catch a late-night movie,' said Ms Jacqueline Tan, 23, who lives in East Coast Avenue.

'More parking space would be great along that stretch of road which is notorious for its limited spaces,' she added.

New name, new look
Katong Mall used to house mainly educational and child enrichment services, such as tuition and dance centres.

After revamp
The mall will be renamed and turned into a lifestyle and food and beverage hub with a Peranakan-themed concept.

There will be 150 shops including a Golden Village cinema, Market Place supermarket, other retail and F&B outlets.

Source: Straits Times, 10 Jul 2010

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