New crowd-puller for Bukit Bintang

THE Bukit Bintang shopping belt in Kuala Lumpur will see yet another new shopping mall by the third quarter of next year. 

Called the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur Shopping Mall, it will add 450 shop lots with a total net lettable retail area of 1.37 million sq ft. Spread over seven retail levels, it will have 13 specialty anchor tenants. 

The good news is that there will be lots of new retail brands (20% of the 450 brands will be new brands), with six retail precincts each catering to a different consumer niche.  

For example, the Seventh Heaven Precinct will be a “luxurious urban retreat” for ladies to indulge in beauty care and other wellness and holistic treatments.  

Besides helping to create about 6,000 to 7,000 jobs by 2008, it will serve as a “connector” linking the major urban attractions in Kuala Lumpur.  

There is a plan to have covered walkways to other city attractions and complemented by a master traffic flow plan. The Tourism Ministry has also earmarked it as a major tourism asset.  

Having said that, the question is: do we need another mega mall in the central business district (CBD)? 

There are already nine shopping/retail centres in the vicinity: KL Plaza, Starhill Gallery, Lot 10, BB Plaza, Sungai Wang Plaza, Low Yat Plaza, Imbi Plaza, Piccolo Galleria and the largest shopping centre in the country, the Berjaya Times Square (BTS) with 3.45 million sq ft and 1,000 retail lots and anchors. It boasts of Asia’s largest indoor theme park, IMAX theatre and many attractions. 

An atist's impression of the RM3bil Pavillion Kuala Lumpur.

BTS, with seven million sq ft built-up area (including the hotel, suites and convention centre), is still struggling to fill up the many empty retail lots although over the past year, more lots have opened for business and the crowd is getting bigger. 

Unlike BTS, the retail lots in Pavilion’s shopping mall are not for sale but are only for lease. To-date, about 45% of the retail spaces, or 616,000 sq ft, have been leased with a long waiting list! Leasing is the right way to go, as it has been shown that there are too many problems with selling retail lots. 

With the Pavilion’s classy image, it will enhance Bukit Bintang with the likes of Tokyo’s swanky Shinjuku shopping and office hub. 

The bad news is that the stretch of Jalan Bukit Bintang in front of the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur is very congested and there are fears that this might worsen with the completion of the new mall.  

This is because the RM3bil Pavilion Kuala Lumpur is a four-in-one integrated development. Apart from the mall, there will also be 368 luxury residences, a 19-storey office tower and a luxury 180-room boutique hotel.  

Tackling the traffic flow will be challenging. 

However, the Pavilion will have three ground-floor street accesses to facilitate an even distribution of shopping traffic from all directions. There will also be three levels of basement parking with 3,300 bays.  

Apart from Pavilion’s 12.6 acres (said to be the last piece of vacant land in Bukit Bintang), there is potential to develop the site of the former Pudu Jail at nearby Jalan Imbi into another commercial cum residential development. 

Perhaps it could be developed along the same line as Tokyo’s “city within a city” Sunshine City in Ikebukuro, a suburban centre. 

Sunshine City is developed on a former prison site but despite being opened in 1979, it is still as popular as ever. Its roof top aquarium, world import mart, Alpha specialty shops and shopping centre are crowd pullers. There is also a stepped outdoor garden for people to relax. 

Many tourists like myself keep on visiting Sunshine City for various reasons. For me, I like to see its unique musical fountains at one of its posh atriums where singing and other performances are held. 

The Pavilion Kuala Lumpur Shopping Mall seems to be more focused on serious shoppers and visitors who go to the mall to do something, be it relaxing in a health spa, working out in a gym or picking up some groceries in a supermarket. There are no musical fountains, theme parks or other places where one can “lepak” (hang around). 

As Joyce Yap, director of leasing and marketing for Kuala Lumpur Pavilion Sdn Bhd (KLP), the development manager said: “We do not want people to lepak”. 

“One of our special features is the two-level shop front where retailers can showcase their brand,” she said, adding that Esprit will be taking up three levels. New brands will include the GAP, Banana Republic, Ted Baker and Massimo Dutti

Meanwhile, KLP is keeping mum about its rental rates, except to say at a media conference last week that it would be a flexible mix of base rental, percentage rental, step rental and other methods. 

Chief executive officer Brisco Fan said the high-end apartments would be launched soon, probably over the next few weeks. 

“The two-tower residences will be very high-end. One tower will be 51 storeys and the other 43 storeys. They will be large well-appointed apartments with 60% of the units enjoying views of the Petronas Twin Towers,” he said. 

He added that the two-bedroom units would have 1,200 sq ft size while the three-bedroom units would be 2,000 sq ft to 2,500 sq ft. The four-bedroom penthouses on the higher floors would be 4,000 sq ft in size.  

With many high-end condominiums and serviced suites being launched and built in the KLCC area, the Pavilion’s luxury apartments, with its imposing towers, would be a sight to behold and would draw interest back to this part of the CBD. 

There appears to be demand for service suites and condominiums in the heart of the shopping belt as seen in the good take up of the Fairlane Residences (next to the Grand Parkroyal Hotel).  

“We have a strong team (in KLP) who have worked very hard the last three years. This is a very big project.  

“We believe we have the expertise, the right management and passion to understand the objectives and deliver this world-class urban development project,” Fan added. 

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