Stiff competition for Orchard Road latecomer

A proposed mixed-hotel-and- retail development on the site of the former Specialists’ Shopping Centre and Hotel Phoenix may face stiff competition, as it will be a latecomer in the revamped Orchard Road shopping strip, said industry players.

But experts also believe the new development will benefit from synergies with nearby shopping malls once the linkway, Discovery Walk, is complete.

Discovery Walk is a decked pedestrian mall which covers Stamford Canal and links the Specialist’s Shopping Centre/Hotel Phoenix site to the adjacent malls, Orchard Central and 313@Somerset. It will be fully complete with the redevelopment of Specialist’s Centre/Hotel Phoenix site, which is owned by OCBC Bank.

Mainboard-listed United Engineers (UE) announced on Monday that it won a $550 million contract to redevelop the site. Temporary Occupancy Permits are expected to be obtained by 2013.

Ms Sng Ngoi May, chairman of the Orchard Road Business Association, said competition is inevitable but views the new development as the missing piece of the puzzle.

“The three adjoining sites will enhance each others’ position. Right now, Discovery Walk is a blank wall till the centre clout is developed,” she said.

The redeveloped project includes a pedestrian bridge and underpass which will link the new development to the Great Eastern-owned Orchard Emerald site across the road.

But Ms Sng notes that cannibalisation is a real possibility if the supply of retail space falls short of retail spending. She said she hopes the integrated resorts and tourists from the redeveloped Hotel Phoenix will stoke demand for more retail space.

DTZ’s senior director of research Chua Chor Hoon said the 2013 estimated completion date could be an advantage.

“When they complete in 2013, they will be the only major shopping mall along Orchard road that is going to be launched,” she said.

Source : Today – 10 Jun 2010

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