Retail gets a facelift in Orchard Road

ORCHARD Road, Singapore’s most famous retail belt, is set to be the densest shopping street in the region, according to the Orchard Road Business Association.

With three new mega-malls scheduled to open for business by the end of the year, about 1.8 million sq ft of new retail space will be added, bringing the total space available on Orchard Road to 8 million sq ft. And the 2.2km stretch of road is also set to reveal a new look as $40 million worth of refurbishments and enhancements to infrastructure are nearing completion.

Naturally, the Orchard Road Business Association is pleased with the makeover.

“We see 2009 as a year that we will remember as a milestone in the modern Orchard Road, ” said chairperson Sng Ngoi May. “The government is spending about $40 million, resulting in wider, re-tiled pedestrian walkways, urban green rooms and state-of-the-art lighting, all of which will lend the environment for more street activities.”

The revamped Orchard Road is expected to draw in larger crowds. Already, it attracts more than 7 million foreign visitors every year, along with hordes of local shoppers. It has, in fact, been consistently ranked as Singapore’s most-visited, free-access tourist attraction.

Cushman & Wakefield’s associate director of retail, Mr Turner Canning, said the three new malls would allow existing brands to expand and provide “a format for them to express themselves in Singapore where they’ve never done so before”.

Orchard Central will be first new mall to open in the Orchard area in more than a decade when its soft launch takes place on July 2. The new kid on the block is upbeat about business prospects.

“This part of Orchard Road has not been maximised in terms of its potential, ” said Ms Susan Leng, director of retail management at Far East Organisation. “With the new Somerset precinct, and with ourselves, with established neighbours like Centrepoint, we’ll create a stronger magnet for both locals and tourists.”

ION Orchard is also set to open next month. It will change the look and feel of the shopping belt with its media wall, which will showcase the mall’s brands, and serve as a canvas for multimedia art.

The overall transformation is timely. Said Mr Canning: “18 months ago, Orchard Road was a bit behind the curve. There had been no significant developments or changes along the road for roughly 10 years, since the crash in 1997. What we’re seeing now is a rejuvenation.”

Source : Today – 26 Jun 2009

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