Saturday, May 30, 2009

Next change at Icon Village: A food haven

Good location, but mall tenants bemoan poor layout, lack of publicity

THE Icon Village, a shopping mall occupying the ground level of the Icon Condominium, is undergoing renovations and a rebranding exercise, less than two years after opening its doors.

Originally billed as a mall offering stress relief, the 30,000 sq ft retail space about five minutes away from the Tanjong Pagar MRT station now wants to remodel itself as a food haven.

Its developer, Far East Organization, said this rejuvenation will allow the mall to meet greater demand from several new developments such as hotels and residential estates.

Tenants are looking forward to the revamp as business has been poor, leaving many of them floundering. They chose to set up shop at the Icon Village because of its good location. But most tenants said they have 'yet to cover costs' and that there are days when they do not see 'a single customer'.

From late last year, the mall's tenants have dwindled from 50 to the current 14.

The main reasons for the low traffic, tenants said, are the confusing layout - many shops are hidden from plain view - and the lack of publicity.

Checks with 20 people working or living near the mall show that most do not know where or what Icon Village is.

Ms Jeanine Ang, 28, a clerk, said she knew of the condominium but did not realise there was a mall in the building. Others said the shops did not appeal to them.

Tenant mix is another reason residents at the Icon, which has 646 units, have given the mall a miss.
Mr Simon Buechi, 25, a bank consultant, said: 'The shops are not very exciting. Many are also closed on weekends when I am free to shop.'

A 40-year-old banker said he prefers shopping in town and would have appreciated a place where he could buy his groceries.

Ms Irene Tan, a realty adviser, added: 'The mall is in a very prime location so it is a pity it isn't popular. The tenant mix is important - people need a reason to visit.

'They could bring in a supermarket as an anchor tenant to cater to the residents in the condominium.'

To bring in more foot traffic, Far East Organization is spending $2 million to improve the layout and ambience of Icon Village. The rebranding will have a tenant mix of 65 per cent food and beverage outlets, with the rest devoted to lifestyle and service shops.

Other than the tenant mix, renovations - which started this month and will be completed in the latter part of the year - will also make the mall brighter. Plans are to transform an existing 7m walkway into a stretch of food outlets. Promotional activities are in the pipeline.

Mr Steven Toh, owner of the Advance Shoe Repair & Locksmith Services, recently signed another three-year lease: 'I am staying on because I am looking at the long run.

'There are offices, flats and other estates coming up in Tanjong Pagar. With the right tenants and promotional activities, I see a good glimpse of hope.'

Source: Straits Times, 30 May 2009

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