Thu, Jul 29, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Taipei inks deal to develop key site

EAST SIDE Uni-President Group signed a BOT contract on behalf of a new joint venture to build a complex that will house a hotel, restaurants, shops and a bus station

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei City Government signed a contract for the development of this site at the intersection of Keelung Road and Chunghsiao East Road with the Uni-President Group yesterday. The company will build a complex that will include a 28-floor hotel, restaurants and retail outlets along with links to the MRT and a bus terminal.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Uni-President Group (統一集團) yesterday signed a contract with the Taipei City Government on a 50-year build, operate, transfer (BOT) project to develop a commercial complex on top of a MRT station and bus terminal in eastern Taipei.

Uni-President signed on behalf of a consortium that includes three other companies.

The site, located at the intersection of Chunghsiao East Road and Keelung Road, is to be home to a building at least 28-stories high that will house a hotel-restaurant-retail complex.

The building will have a five-level basement for parking and connections to the MRT Taipei City Hall Station. Adjacent to the building will be a 900-ping (2,970m2) bus station, with space for 16 buses. The top of the terminal will be built as a public plaza.

"We want to make the site a landmark for young people," said Kao Ching-yuan (高清愿), head of Uni-President Group.

The NT$9 billion (US$264.5 million) project is scheduled to be finished by 2008.

The deal has been in the works for more than a year and is the city's first BOT project with the private sector. Uni-President Enterprise Corp (統一企業) has a 30-percent stake in the joint venture that will develop the site -- President Development Corp (統一開發).

Other shareholders include Prince Housing & Development Corp (太子建設), which has a 30-percent stake and President International Development Corp (統一國際開發), which has a 20-percent share.

During the negotiations, President Chain Store Corp (統一超商) -- operator of 7-Eleven convenience stores nationwide -- decided to reduce its stake in the project from 50 percent to 20 percent after disagree-ments among its investors, according to Hsu Chung-jen (徐重仁), president of President Chain.

With the nearby President Takashimaya Department Store (統一高島屋百華) to be inaugurated in October, Kao said the company is confident that a steady stream of shoppers will be drawn to the new retail-transport hub.

But analysts are not so sure. They question whether shoppers will shift their allegiance from the Warner Village area a few blocks away to the new complex.

"We [market watchers] are a little bit worried," said Eva Chang (張佳靜), manager at the real estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle Taiwan (仲量聯行).

She said that although the pro-ject will have a geographical edge, it must present a distinctive tenant mix and focus more on internal management to ensure its success.

"Warner Village and Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store (新光三越) in the Hsinyi District have proved to be magnets for shoppers, so the new complex would have to offer novelty to change people's shopping habits," she said.

Wendy Hsueh (薛惠珍), research director at DTZ Debenham Tie Leung (戴德梁行) stressed that the product mix in the new facility will decide its fate. She said the planned hotel should be able to attract some of the businesspeople who attend trade shows and conferences held in Hsinyi District.

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