SMRT opens first non-underground retail space in Choa Chu Kang

SMRT has officially opened its first heartland, non-underground retail space – Choa Chu Kang Xchange, at the junction of a bus interchange, MRT and LRT stations.

This follows the Raffles and Dhoby Xchanges, both of which are in the city.

Covering close to 1,000 square metres, all 42 shops at Choa Chu Kang Xchange have been leased out.

MRT Corporation president & CEO, Saw Phaik Hwa, said: “(Five years ago) when we started off for only retail, we used to… make about S$20 million in terms of rentals. Today, I think this year, we should end in excess of S$40 million. So, it’s more than doubled in terms of revenue from rentals alone.”

Despite some recent problems with tenants at the Dhoby Xchange, who felt they were not getting enough exposure, SMRT said things have since turned around there, and there are now many new tenants and the occupancy rate has hit over 90 per cent.

SMRT said retail space in the heartlands does not necessarily mean lower rentals.

Mr Saw said: “It is not location. It is the passengers that you bring to the location. So we have tens of thousands, sometimes 100,000 passengers, in certain exchanges like Boon Lay, (which) is very highly used. Here (Choa Chu Kang) is very highly used.”

Some shops at the Xchange have been able to balance off higher rentals with higher profits, but smaller neighbourhood shops, which do not have such high passenger volume, are feeling the heat.

“Ever since that place opened, our business has gone down by half, so we try to keep our prices low,” said a neighbourhood cake shop lady.

Work is also underway at two other Xchanges in Boon Lay and Tanjong Pagar, which should be ready by the first half of this year. – CNA/ac

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 28 Jan 2008

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