New malls opening at Orchard Road to rejuvenate area

Singapore’s prime shopping belt Orchard Road is set for a revival, with three new malls to be launched by the end of the year and two refurbished fronts. The malls include Orchard Central and 313@Somerset, and the new fronts are at Mandarin Gallery and Park Hotel Orchard.

That amounts to about 1.8 million square feet of new retail space, bringing the total space available at Orchard Road to eight million square feet.

Beyond the malls, plans are underway for large-scale themed events for the street throughout the year.

Chairman of Orchard Road Business Association, Sng Ngoi May, said: “Orchard Road Business Association sees 2009 as a year that we will remember as a milestone in the modern Orchard Road. After a lapse of 15 years, we are going to see three completely new malls coming on stream.

“The plan started earlier, with the makeover of the street by the government, (who) spent about S$40 million. (The makeover resulted) in wider pedestrian walkway, a retiled pedestrian walkway, urban green rooms and state-of-the-art lighting, plus something not so obvious – they have also provided the infrastructure where we can tap electricity on the street.”

The walk down Orchard Road is set to get even more exciting, going by the government’s development plans. Shoppers will have choices galore when it comes to large-scale themed events that take place throughout the year.

Group director of urban planning and design at Urban Redevelopment Authority, Fun Siew Leng, said: “The next stage really is not to put in more hardware, but to put in more software aspects. How can we make Orchard Road full of activities that are exciting and to continue to attract new visitors?

“The Singapore Tourism Board will be taking the lead. The agency will champion to promote, market, and have a coordinated calendar of events to continue to keep Orchard Road exciting for people. So you can look forward to more coordinated themed events.

“They will have four main themes, for example (there will be) one based on lifestyle, (one on) fashion, one on the Singapore Grand Prix, and another on the Christmas light-up. Then they will build along these themes and have other side events to pull together to make all these events bigger.”

The Orchard Road Business Association said the first event may be rolled out as early as next year.

Sng said: “With all these developments, we see Orchard Road as offering more than just shopping. On the street, we want to continue to offer something that is visually pleasing to the eye, like art installations, and the urban green rooms – you can have performances in the urban green rooms, and retailers can also use the urban green rooms for display of merchandise. And (there will also be) other street activities like buskers, good quality buskers.”

While most of the key changes will be found in the core region of Orchard Road, the fringes will undergo some development too.

Fun said: “There is also a park which we are developing at the open space on top of Dhoby Gaut MRT. This is a project we initiated to create more public space for people to use.

“The land on top of the MRT station is not being sold for some time to come. And instead of just leaving it vacant, we thought it will be good if we can make it into an open space for the time being and allow people to enjoy it, to use it.”

Orchard Road has not seen a new mall in more than a decade, so there is clearly much anticipation about the new additions to the street. The first to open its doors will be Orchard Central in July.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 11 Jun 2009

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