Taiwan Land Development Corp (TLDC, 台灣土地開發) has made progress developing a mixed-use complex called New Paradiso (新天堂樂園) in Hualien as major retailers and entertainment firms have agreed to open outlets.
The 32 hectare complex attracted 500,000 visitors over the Lunar New Year holiday and is poised for bigger crowds after the completion of the Suhua Highway Improvement Project early next year, TLDC chairman Chiu Fu-sheng (邱復生) told a news conference in Hualien on Friday last week.
Arcade operator Tom’s World (湯姆熊) and Hung Rui Chen Sandwich (洪瑞珍三文治) have come onboard, while WuPaoChun Bakery (吳寶春麥方店) is mulling expansion to Hualien, encouraged by Starbucks and Vieshow Cinemas (威秀影城) operations there, Chiu said.
The partially finished mall would add restaurants and retail brands in phases, as there is no hurry, he said.
The highway project, due to be completed in 320 days, will significantly shorten driving times between Taipei and Hualien and bring more tourists from Taiwan and abroad, he said.
On that schedule, the work is due to be completed on Jan. 11 next year.
Meanwhile, the developer plans to start construction of hotel rooms and residential apartments next month, aiming to add more than 1,000 guest rooms under two brands to attract guests with different travel budgets, Chiu said.
The construction would cost NT$3 billion (US$97.4 million) and be completed in one-and-a-half years, he said.
“There are 4,500 hotel rooms in Hualien, but I believe there will be a shortage after we add the leisure facilities,” Chiu said.
TLDC is upbeat about the leisure industry in Hualien in light of its rich tourism resources that have yet to be tapped, he said.
The developer last month joined forces with Brave Line Co (百麗航運) to buy high-speed catamaran ferries to provide services between Hualien and Yilan.
The ferries could begin operations in May, allowing people another option for travel to Hualien, as transportation remains a key barrier, Chiu said.
It can take at least three hours to travel from Taipei to Hualien by train and tickets are difficult to obtain for the faster Puyuma Express, which takes two hours.
Last year, TLDC leased four piers at the Port of Hualien to offer water sports and activities.
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