CapitaLand hits milestone with opening of biggest mall in Suzhou

Suzhou Center Mall (foreground) - more than three times the size of Ion Orchard - is the largest such facility built by CapitaLand and the biggest mall in the Chinese city.
Suzhou Center Mall (foreground) - more than three times the size of Ion Orchard - is the largest such facility built by CapitaLand and the biggest mall in the Chinese city.PHOTO: CAPITALAND

SUZHOU • It has been a red letter year for CapitaLand, with the developer releasing a record one million sq m of retail space into the Chinese market this year.

The milestone was reached yesterday when it opened a gigantic mall in Suzhou that is more than three times the size of Ion Orchard in Singapore.

Suzhou Center Mall is also the largest such facility that CapitaLand has built and the biggest shopping centre in the Chinese city.

It spans almost 300,000 sq m in gross floor area (GFA) excluding carparks, and boasts more than 600 retail brands.

CapitaLand chief executive officer Lim Ming Yan said that the mall's opening caps a record year for the developer, noting: "Close to one million sq m of retail GFA across eight developments turned operational in 2017, marking our largest-ever retail GFA offering in a single year."

The firm reached the milestone with one of its most eye-catching complexes yet devised.

The seven-storey mall designed by architectural firm Benoy has the world's largest free-form monocoque roof at over 36,000 sq m.

The complex is shaped like a pair of phoenix's wings to symbolise Suzhou's growth taking flight, and is made up of 6,947 pieces of multi-coloured curved glass.

Suzhou Center Mall also boasts 60,000 sq m of greenery across its numerous outdoor terraces, rooftops and landscaped cantilever bridges that extend from two ends of the complex to the lakefront.

A 45m-wide and 25m-high water curtain lies on the facade facing the city's historic Jinji Lake.

The mall is in the heart of the western central business district of Suzhou Industrial Park, right next to Jinji Lake and the traditional city centre.

The sprawling shopping haven is the centrepiece of the Suzhou Center integrated development that also comprises four Grade A office towers, two luxury residential towers and the W Suzhou hotel tower, which are all interconnected.

CapitaLand's wholly owned shopping business CapitaLand Mall Asia is the co-owner and co-developer for the shopping mall and two 21-storey office towers, which opened for business in the third quarter of this year.

The centre, which is positioned as the city's new central business district, also has a 1,570m underground tunnel that leads to its basement carpark and directly links to two metro lines.

The mall opened with more than 90 per cent lease commitment for its net lettable area of approximately 152,000 sq m.

The anchor tenants include Suzhou's first CGV cinemas, its first Fanpekka children's theme park, its first indoor simulated Counter Strike gaming centre, an Olympic-size ice rink, a gourmet supermarket and a foodcourt.

About 30 per cent of the mall's offerings are new entrants to Suzhou, including Victoria's Secret, Forever 21 and HAY furniture store. H&M and Zara will operate triplex stores in the mall - their biggest outlets in Suzhou.

CapitaLand said the opening of Suzhou Center Mall means that 61 out of its total portfolio of 69 owned and managed malls in China are operational.

The firm owns and manages 109 malls, of which 95 have opened, across Singapore, China, Malaysia, Japan and India.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2017, with the headline 'CapitaLand hits milestone with opening of biggest mall in Suzhou'. Print Edition | Subscribe