By THE EDGE
The newest addition to the Kuala Lumpur retail scene is coming up in the heart of the Golden Triangle. Located in the corner of busy Jalan Bukit Bintang and Jalan Raja Chulan, next to Menara Standard Chartered, the RM3 billion Pavilion Kuala Lumpur sits on a 12.6-acre leasehold parcel comprising the site of the former Bukit Bintang Girls School, the old Weld public swimming pool and Eden restaurant. It is scheduled to open its doors on Sept 20, about the same time as MidValley City’s The Gardens and Sunway Pyramid’s second phase.
There are four components to the development — a 7-storey retail podium, two serviced apartment towers (one 50-storey block and one 43-storey block), a 20-storey office tower and a proposed 10-storey, 180-room boutique hotel.
The landowner and developer is Urusharta Cemerlang Sdn Bhd, a company formed for the privatised project, while the project manager is Kuala Lumpur Pavilion Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of property developer Malton Bhd. Urusharta Cemerlang is 49% owned by the Baitak Asia Real Estate Fund, whose stakeholders are Kuwait Finance House and Singapore-based Pacific Star Group.
The largest component of the project is the retail podium, with a net lettable area (NLA) of 1.37 million sq ft. This space is divided into six retail precincts and 3,300 parking bays located on three basement parking levels. When completed, the component will boast 450 lots that will range from 100 sq ft — for small tenants — to 25,000 sq ft to 250,000 sq ft for speciality anchors, of which there will be 13.
Apart from being great news for shopaholics and mall rats, what does the opening of the mall mean for the Bukit Bintang area and other malls?
Bukit Bintang needs critical mass. That is how John Sironic, Joyce Yap and Jim Wong, respectively the directors of centre management, leasing and marketing, and retail design, of Kuala Lumpur Pavilion view downtown Kuala Lumpur’s main shopping and entertainment locale.
“From the macro point of view, we’re completing Bukit Bintang… the area needs a number of malls congregating together to create that critical mass, just like Orchard Street in downtown Singapore,” says Sironic. “If you look at Bukit Bintang, you really can’t sell it as a shopping haven unless you’ve something like this, and we’re hoping to be the anchor mall for the area.”
A lot of time was spent on research to bring the best of local and international brands together, he adds.
It’s all about being spoilt for choice. “And what we’re doing is take the best of what we know, from customer service to design… urban shopping malls are all about an integrated approach to retail and entertainment,” Sironic tells City&Country. “It’s going to be different because as you walk in, you’ll feel and see this amazing amount of space that has been planned with no dead space, which is important from the tenants’ view.”
Bukit Bintang malls
A quick tour of Jalan Bukit Bintang reveals that it already has three full-fledged malls: Sungei Wang Plaza, Lot 10 and Starhill Gallery, with the largest and oldest Sungei Wang having an NLA of 800,000 sq ft. Bukit Bintang Plaza, KL Plaza and Low Yat Plaza are located on the same street, while on neighbouring Jalan Imbi, there is Berjaya Times Square, with 2.1 million sq ft.
Each of these malls caters for a distinct market segment: Sungei Wang Plaza appeals to the young crowd that’s in tune with East Asian fashion; Starhill Gallery to an older and more affluent crowd; and Low Yat Plaza to techies.
Pavilion KL’s presence will certainly be felt, thanks to its size, not to mention the fact that it is the new kid on the block with a design that’s described as innovative by Sironic, Yap and Wong.
How innovative? Taking advantage of the topography of the sloping land, the mall has three major entrances, all at ground level but planned in such a way that the highest or lowest floors are never more than three levels up or down from one of the entrances. There will also be over 140 modes of vertical transport, such as lifts and elevators, for visitors’ convenience.
Pavilion KL will feature two skybridges, one of which will take shoppers to the KLCC area in just five minutes. This will effectively connect the Bukit Bintang and KLCC areas, hitherto separated by Jalan Raja Chulan, and create one almost seamless shopping and entertainment district with offerings to suit every budget.
Parking is always an issue with malls. Besides its own parking space, says Sironic, Pavilion KL is only a brief walk from 50,000 to 60,000 parking bays located in other malls and offices in the neighbourhood. “Our research shows that only 60% of these bays are utilised during peak periods on weekends; it’s manageable the way we see it, unless it’s sales time,” he adds.
According to Wong, the interior of the mall features a neutral palette and is designed to be as unobstrusive as possible for that relaxed shopping experience. Tenants will also have more leeway in decorating their shops.
Yap points out that it’s more than just location for Pavilion KL. Today’s urban shopping malls are about content too. “With a three-year completion date for the development, we had to plan for what consumers would want in the future,” she says.
Although the mall will cater for various segments of the market, the brands available will appeal to a younger set of customers, which is what will differentiate Pavilion KL from its nearest neighbour Starhill Gallery, she adds.
“The brands that are coming in will also have their flagship stores here; they’ll be bringing in not only their usual merchandise but also an expanded range… Esprit, which is taking up space on three levels, will even have a coffee shop, while Hermes will have an amazing shop fronting Jalan Bukit Bintang,” she says.
Department store Parkson, which is taking up 250,000 sq ft, will have an expanded range different from its U Parkson stores.
At press time, 90% of the lots had been leased out. Of these, 20% had been signed up by new brands. Well-known brands setting up shop in the mall include Club Monaco, Hermes, Mont Blanc, Escada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Bally, Tiffany & Co, Versace, Omega, Joan & David, Banana Republic, EQIQ, Reiss and Ted Baker.
With most of the space already taken up, there is less urgency to fill up what is left. “We’ll have to be very selective with the remaining space; it may go to young designers as we don’t mind nurturing them and customers do want the unique and the new,” says Yap.
To further differentiate itself from the competition, Pavilion KL will come in six precincts — Gourmet Emporium, Couture Pavilion, Bintang Circle, Connection, Home and Seventh Heaven. The Gourmet Emporium will be anchored by a gourmet supermarket with speciality shops and kiosks surrounding it; Couture Pavilion will be inspired by Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive, with a collection of luxury boutiques on the second and third levels; while Home is a precinct catering for home retailing and providing solutions for homes, somewhat like IKEA.
The entertainment hub within the mall will be housed in Connection, which will have a translucent roof over it and cater for those who like the urban lifestyle and have 24-hour access. The core of the mall will be located in Bintang Circle, a gathering space flanked by speciality shops and kiosks. Seventh Heaven will be an urban retreat designed exclusively for women and offer services for their well-being.