Wed, May 07, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Taipei 101 may be home to new hotel

SKY-HIGH VIEW Taipei's new landmark could become the location of one of the world's highest luxury hotels

By Patrick Kearns and Kevin Chen  /  STAFF REPORTERS

High above the Taipei World Trade Center, a construction worker welds on the 74th floor of the Taipei 101 office tower yesterday. The 101-story complex is stated to be completed in October next year. Several luxury-hotel companies are in negotiations to run the five-star facility planned for floors 67 to 84.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Four international hoteliers are jockeying for a spot in Taipei 101 and the right to be called one of world's highest hotels, executives of the 508m skyscraper said yesterday.

The hotels include the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, the Ritz-Carlton, the St. Regis and the Le Meridien which enjoys a strategic alliance with Japan's Nikko Hotel.

"Four Seasons is aggressively negotiating with us," said Scott Chen (陳文光), a commercial vice president at Taipei Financial Center Corp (TFCC, 台北金融大樓公司).

"We're in constant contact -- about twice a week by phone and e-mail," he said.

The proposed five-star hotel would occupy approximately 300 rooms and be located on floors 67 through 84, with an exclusive shuttle elevator taking guests directly to the hotel's 67th floor lobby, said Matthew Shaw, director of Jones Lang LaSalle Taiwan, the primary leasing agent for the Taipei 101 tower.

Only the Grand Hyatt Shanghai, located in the Jin Mao Building, would have one floor of rooms higher, boasting the world's highest hotel rooms on the 85th floor.

TFCC management team floated the tower hotel proposal two months ago, and the response has been excellent, Shaw said. More than seven hotels contacted top brass at Taipei Financial, which narrowed the list to four.

Competition is tight as "there is a fundamental lack of five-star hotel property in Taipei," Shaw said.

Construction of the 101-floor, 60,000-ping (198,000m2) office tower is slated to be completed in October next year. The tower is now 90 stories high.

Market watchers have speculated that office rents in Taipei 101 may hover above NT$4,000 per ping after the skyscraper opens next year, but Shaw dismissed the claims, saying that figure is far from accurate.

"There is a shortage of Grade A space, but to charge in excess of NT$4000 per ping would be unrealistic."

Shaw added that Taipei 101 would set a new office real estate benchmark for others to follow.

According to a market report by the CB Richard Ellis Ltd, premium grade offices rents have slid 3.03 percent from NT$2,427 to NT$2,353 per ping each month since the beginning of the year. And with new office space in the pipeline, rents are expected to continue to drop in the near future, the report said.

In addition to the prospective hotel, the most important anchor tenant of the new building will be the Taiwan Stock Exchange Corp (證交所).

"The Taiwan Stock Exchange will occupy about seven floors in the building, or about 6,000 pings," according to administrative vice president Terry Shen (沈雲飛).

"Also one of our shareholders -- Chinatrust Commercial Bank (中國信託銀行) -- has agreed to take nearly the same amount of space, but they have not yet signed any formal agreements," Shen said in an interview last year.

Meanwhile, executives yesterday also said they are close to finalizing a deal with Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) to rent 1,000 pings (3,305m2) in the adjacent 23,000-ping (76,027m2), four-floor shopping mall.

The Sogo deal should be concluded within 10 days and 88 percent of retail space is already full, said Simon Van de Velde, senior development, leasing and marketing manager at Lend Lease Pty Ltd Taiwan.

The mall is slated to formally open on Nov. 14.

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