Tuesday June 5, 2012
Vincent Tan’s dream of world’s largest shopping centre to come true
Made In China by CHOW HOW BAN
WHEN Tan Sri Vincent Tan’s Berjaya Corporation bought a vast farmland in Hebei province’s Yanjiao, about 38km from Beijing, 10 years ago, the Malaysian tycoon knew exactly what type of development they wanted to establish there.
His vision to build the world’s largest all-in-one shopping mall in the area is not far from reality.
The first phase of the five billion yuan (RM2.35bil) Great Mall of China project, comprising a retail mall, an indoor water theme park, a family theme park and an extreme park, will be completed in March next year and scheduled to open in October.
There will be an extension of a cinema and pedestrian street in the first phase. In total, phase one covers 796,529 sq m.
The second and third phases will consist of a convention centre, that can accommodate 10,000 people, a 2,000-seat capacity theatre, another retail building, office blocks, an aquarium, sports centre, hotel and service apartments.
The entire project, with a total built-up area of 1.84 million sq m, is expected to be completed in March 2017.
“From the very beginning, we told the government officials (from Yanjiao and Hebei) that we will build them a mall which is bigger than the Mall of America in the United States,” said Tan in a recent interview.
“We showed them the Mall of America and the West Edmonton Mall in Canada to give them an idea of the type of mall that we were planning to build. At that time, we were in the midst of finishing Berjaya Times Square (in Kuala Lumpur),” he added
Berjaya Corporation has kept a low profile with its foray into China. Only recently, the company announced news of the mall project.
The company developed a French Village and Les OE residential projects near the mall site in 2001 and invested in a wastewater treatment plant and a sanitary landfill in Foshan city in southern China in 2008.
Besides, the company also has interests in 24quan.com, a website that features discounted gift vouchers, and Beijing Zhongcai Printing Co Ltd.
Tan believes that the reputation of being the largest mall would attract people from all over China and the world to the Great Mall of China.
“A mall of this size can only be built in China where there is a huge population.
“If you do not have enough people, it will not be economically viable to construct something of this magnitude,” he said
“From our experience with Berjaya Times Square, we will try to tailor this shopping mall like a resort. Great Mall of China will be the biggest in the world unless somebody is crazier than us,” he added
Berjaya (China) Great Mall Co Ltd chief executive officer Kevin Tan said the mall was inspired by both the West Edmonton Mall and Mall of America.
“Both are called destination malls. They are located on the outskirts but still have high traffic as they draw many shoppers from the nearby cities. That’s what we want to do with the Great Mall of China,” he said.
Kevin said that with the mall strategically located within the radius of Beijing, Tianjin and other Hebei cities, its catchment population would be as many as 100 million people.
He said one of the highlights of the mall would be the coaster rides, which include the SkyLoop and Pretzel Coaster, that would scale up to 60m or approximately 17 storeys.
The three indoor theme parks covers about 80,000 sq m and cater to all age groups.
“We will try to transport visitors to a different world at the theme parks. There are many shopping malls in Beijing but one with the whole package is still not available.
“We know that the world’s largest mall is currently the South China Mall in Dongguan. But the mall is not really doing well and we hope to do better,” Kevin Tan said.
He hoped that the light-rail transit line, which now stops at Tongzhou in the east of Beijing, would extend to Yanjiao as this would make travel to the shopping mall much easier for Beijing residents.