Garden project flags change in urban landscape

November 23, 2004 | 17:42
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Private firm Bitexcoland last week broke ground on a high-end shopping mall and officetel complex in Hanoi, part of a wider trend of shopping centre development that is drastically altering Vietnam’s urban landscape.

Start of work on the $32 million office-hotel complex, to be called the Garden, came just a few days before a new modern shopping mall, the Vincom City Towers on the capital’s Ba Trieu street, opened its doors to become the largest mall in Hanoi.
New shopping malls are sprouting up at Vietnam’s major cities, catering to a population that is more fashion conscious, market driven and affluent than ever. A GDP growth rate of about 7 per cent over the last five years has fuelled the consumerism.
Bitexcoland, which is also building two high-end residential projects in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, is building the Garden near the National Meeting Hall in the capital’s outlying Tu Liem district. The shopping centre will cover 20,500 square metres, and will include retail space, a supermarket, a cinema complex and a food court covering more than one hectare of land in an area surrounded by the National Sports Complex and a multitude of modern housing developments.
“The Garden will be a totally new concept that will redefine the art of shopping,” said Moon Kyoo Kim, Bitexcoland’s chief executive officer.
The company aims to draw in leading international brand names to provide various products, including clothes, jewellery, cosmetics, and home theatre and electronic equipment. Kim said the mall would be unique in Hanoi and more elegant than other malls in Southeast Asia.
“Once the customers begin shopping on our prestigious shopping floors, they will have to keep coming back all the time,” said Kim.
The French-influenced architecture of the Garden, which is designed to make it more than just a shopping mall, aims to create a sophisticated recreational atmosphere that includes a health club, swimming pool and six-screen cinema on the fourth floor.
Bitexcoland has expressed interest in offering an eclectic range of food at the shopping centre, with leading international fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, KFC and Taco Bell tipped as possible tenants.
“Unlike a stand-alone building, the Garden is where you go to shop, eat and enjoy yourself,” said Kim. “It is very special and unique compared to other projects.”
He said the shopping complex would combine with the nearby Manor residential development, which is due to deliver 500 units by the end of next year, to create a complete community.
Kim said he was confident that the Garden and the Manor would cater to the new breed of Vietnamese who are showing a preference for high-end products and brands.
Profits from a speculative real estate boom and strong economic growth over the past five years have created a burgeoning middle class and are driving up consumerism in Vietnam. Shopping malls are an indication of Vietnamese predilection for the latest luxurious fashions and wares.
Marc Townsend, managing director of CB Richard Ellis property consultant company, said consumption of expensive products had been spurred by increasing household incomes and a young generation with a hunger for fashion and entertainment.
“New high-end retail stores are opening every month,” said Townsend.
He added that Vietnam had recently seen the arrival of upmarket brands such as Dunhill, Mango, Benetton, Bulgari, Cartier and Prada, with more expected to arrive.
Hanoi has become more fashionable than ever as distributors and merchants have arrived to set up shops in the city.
Dai A Trading Company, which runs a boutique selling Benetton clothes in Ho Chi Minh City, has expanded to Hanoi, leasing a shop in the newly built Vincom City Towers to sell fashion wares.
French Bourbon Group is also building a hypermarket in Hanoi after running two businesses in the second city and Dong Nai province for a few years.
Bitexcoland is not only cashing in on changing consumer tastes, but the company is also setting sights on the up-and-coming business circle which is witnessing a boom in numbers since the introduction of Enterprise Law in 2000.
The Garden is also the first officetel in Hanoi, providing 170 units for lease and sale. The officetel’s target customers are representative offices of multinational companies, local businesspeople and business-minded people on the go.
Kim said the officetel would provide unique services such as central receptionist, conference room, exhibition centre, and administrative services.

By Ngoc Son

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