Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ginza Plaza Gets $26m Makeover

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 23, 2008

It will also get new name and image as it goes upmarket

AFTER years of decline, one of the first malls in the western part of the island has been given a $26 million makeover and a new name - West Coast Plaza.

Formerly known as Ginza Plaza, the 15-year-old Clementi complex's interior has been completely refurbished and will have a Miami-inspired tropical feel with palm trees and fountains when it opens next month.

Reflecting a new upmarket focus, it will have many mid-priced restaurants, and fancy touches, including the country's first supermarket with a wine lounge. Anchor tenant Cold Storage will offer wine-tasting sessions hosted by an in-house expert every evening.

Food and beverage outlets like Fish and Co, Thai Express, and New York New York will also be 'posher and sleeker' than usual, according to Ms Susan Leng, deputy director of retail management at mall owner Far East Organization.

She added that a 'very well-known' fashion retailer from the United States will open its first Singapore outlet in the mall, though she declined to say which one.

The mall is hoping to attract a range of shoppers, from nearby National University of Singapore students to expatriates.

Clementi residents and students are hopeful the revamp will enhance a neighbourhood that so far has been lacking higher-end malls.

NUS business student Ms Amanda Eng, 23, said: 'It's good because there's a dearth of eating places and nearby shopping.

'We usually have to go to Holland Village or sometimes even VivoCity. The services at the mall will be good especially for those who stay in university halls.'

Long-time Clementi resident Mr Wesley Sum, 25, hopes the new mall will attract more people to the area and give it 'a more upmarket vibe'.

Originally built to cater to Japanese expatriates, Ginza Plaza was part of a wave of heartland shopping malls which sprung up in the early 90s. Its counterparts include Junction 8 in Bishan, Tiong Bahru Plaza, and Northpoint in Yishun, which have undergone revamps in recent years.

The superstitious may say it was ill-fated from the start. In 1992, a gas explosion at its construction site left three dead and more than 120 injured. Then in 1994, a year after its opening, over half of its tenants shut for two days in protest against high rents and low customer traffic.

It continued to experience such problems in the 1990's, before gaining popularity among teenagers as a gaming hub with its comic shops, gaming card stalls and LAN cafes. But that too eventually died down.

The mall still has its work cut out for it. Like other projects coming up, it has had problems attracting retailers amid the uncertain economic climate. It is currently only 60 per cent full, although Ms Leng expects that number to hit 70 per cent soon.

No comments: