News that a brand new mall in our shopping crazy nation has been vacant for the past nine months seems strangely odd but as we know, 2020 has thrown us a multitude of curve balls, so we can take this news in our stride.
The east of Singapore has its fair share of malls — Changi City Point, East Point Mall, Downtown East, East Village, and Tampines Mall, to name a few. A google search of malls in the east strangely does not bring up the newest kid on the block, [email protected], which is located at 943 Upper Changi Rd N, across the road from the Prison Link Centre. A gleaming three-storey building with a modern red and grey facade, it sports elongated, tinted windows that add to its sleek design — a building that can hardly be missed.
The new mall has, however, struggled to attract tenants because of planning restrictions and the COVID-19 pandemic. With the current economic climate and safe distancing restrictions in place, interest in retail spaces have plummeted. To add to the challenge of finding new tenants, URA planning conditions issued in March 2019, outlined that the mall was not permitted to have restaurants, bars, health centres or nightclubs. This was to reduce impact on the existing amenities in the surrounding area.
There have been online discussions that the lack of tenants could be due to the high prices that landlords are possibly seeking. It is also hinted that small boutique malls face challenges to attract the right tenants and customers. The small shop sizes and unique locations of these malls makes it hard to have organic footfall, and landlords and business owners often have to understand the needs of their neighborhoods and meet the needs of the community. A good case in point is King Albert Park Mall which also struggled to attract the right tenant mix when it was first launched but has since transformed itself successfully into a mall serving the needs of the local community. The mall now boasts of a cinema, various food outlets, a community space, and educational service centres that support the many schools and educational institutions around its vicinity.
So lets give [email protected] a few more months to explore various options and business positionings. I am sure the landlords will band together just like King Albert Park Mall did and collectively work together to make their mall a success; something that the residents and businesses would flock to in search of their everyday needs.