By BUSINESS TIMES
Malaysia may appear to have one too many malls and some will question the wisdom of opening another when sales are falling.
But it is probably a good move if the opening fills an obvious void.
Wangsa Walk, a RM70 million mall in Kuala Lumpur that opens in July, expects to satisfy a long-overdue need for residents of Bandar Wangsa Maju in Kuala Lumpur.
Its owners also plan to recoup their investment and start making money in half the time a typical mall takes.
The mall, which is being developed by MSL Properties Sdn Bhd in Wangsa Maju, has managed to fill up almost all its space. It will have a 92 per cent occupancy rate at a time when most retailers have opted to slow expansion.
Wangsa Walk, which takes up 273,243 sq ft, or roughly a quarter of Suria KLCC, will serve about 250,000 people living within a 4km drive.
Richard Chan, director of RCMC Sdn Bhd, the consultants for the project, said the owners were initially worried about the timing of the opening.
“However, of late, we have been signing contracts daily. We have already signed up for 92 per cent occupancy,” he said.
MSL Properties general manager Tan Ching Meng is bullish about the development and expects to recoup investment in five and a half years. Its RM70 million investment does not include the cost of land.
The 26-year-old MSL Properties is the main developer of the Wangsa Maju township.
Singapore-listed MCL Land Ltd holds 50 per cent of MSL Properties. Saujana Consolidated Bhd holds 30 per cent, while Landmarks Bhd has the rest.
“We will be happy to make RM13 million in gross revenue in the first year and RM15 million the following year,” Tan told Business Times in an interview.
Rental at the mall is tagged at RM8 to RM15 per sq ft including service charge.
Tan is not worried about international names like Carrefour and Jusco, both a stone’s throw from Wangsa Walk, as they differ in terms of design, concept and retailers.
In fact, Wangsa Walk does not have a department store.
The mall is “a strong destination built up on things people like to do”, Tan said. It has thus removed the box-like feature and accommodated more of a street mall concept.
Wangsa Walk will have a 400m long walkway, an amphitheatre that can seat 100 and space to accommodate a flea market with more than 200 stalls.
“We have an al fresco concept as people nowadays want to see and also be seen. Our concept sees the solid walls crumbling and giving way to visibility,” Tan added.
Cold Storage, Celebrity Fitness, TGV Cinema, Popular Bookstore and a 32-lane bowling alley are among the 170 retailers that the mall will house.
The mall on a 5.7ha site has a gross built-up area of 495,117 sq ft. It forms the first phase of an integrated development that will also have offices and serviced residences, slated for beyond 2014.
There is also enough land to expand the mall if demand is strong.