Sat, Nov 15, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Chests swell with opening of mall

TAIPEI 101 Chen Shui-bian and Ma Ying-jeou said the center is a symbol of the nation's success, but one analyst said the tower is more about pride than pragmatism

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AFP

Thousands of visitors swarm to the Taipei 101 Mall for the shopping center's opening yesterday. The 508m-tall Taipei 101 in the Hsinyi District is the world's tallest building.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

The Taipei 101 Mall opened yesterday with applause from politicians who said the center puts Taiwan on the map.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony, said the mall puts Taipei in the international spotlight.

"It is not only a landmark of Taipei but a sign of Taiwan's development and prosperity. It is Taiwan's asset and pride," Chen said.

Speaking at the same ceremony, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said the building was "the pride of Taipei residents" and a mark of the country's global ambitions.

Taipei 101 is expected to have only a brief reign as the world's tallest building, however, having surpassed Malaysia's 452m Petronas twin towers when its top was put on earlier this year.

In 2008, India will best Taiwan with the 224-story Centre of India Tower in Katangi, projected to stand 676m.

Hu Jone-hui, from the Tao Architects and Planners, said the craze for building skyscrapers in Asia was about national pride, not commercial logic or even safety.

"Building the world's tallest skyscraper is traditionally a way for a developing capitalist society to show off its wealth and attract attention. For a country that is seeking to advance itself to the rank of developed countries, such a symbolic building is considered a [source of] pride," Hu said.

The five-story, 23,000-ping mall sits at the base of the 508m tower, which will open to the public next year.

The mall features 161 stores and will carry numerous international brands, offers 12 restaurants and one international bookstore.

John Sironic, general manager of the mall, said initial response from tenants has been better than expected.

The mall already has 93 percent occupancy and is targeting annual sales of NT$16 billion to NT$19 billion in its first year, he said.

World's tallest buildings

1. Taipei 101, 509m

2. Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, 452m

3. Sears Tower, Chicago, 442m

4. Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai, 421m

5. Two International Finance Centre, Hong Kong, 415m

Source: skyscrapers.com


The shopping complex is expected to draw up to 200,000 people per day, said Scott Chen (陳文光), a vice commercial president of Taipei Financial Centre Co, the owner of the mall.

"We will have 19 luxury brands setting up their flagship stores in the mall," Chen said.

The mall's tenants are optimistic about the success of the complex.

"As Taipei 101 is a landmark for Taiwan, it is a great attraction to people and top customers," said Pure Tsai (蔡純真), president of the Youth Camp Health Group (佳姿健康集團). Youth Camp set up a 2,000-ping flagship store in the mall.

Evan Chen (陳超凡), marketing manager of Jasons Market Place, a Singapore-based chain, said the new location gives them advantages in attracting customers living in the area, the foreign community and visitors to the city.

Yesterday's opening attracted people from around the country.

Lin Si-yin (林思吟) and Chien I-ju (簡臆如), two 26-year-old salespeople from Kaohsiung and Taichung, respectively, said the mall's design and layout were attractive.

Chang Hao-zi (張浩子), a 23-year-old hotel worker in Taipei, said she enjoyed the spacious shopping area and was satisfied with the variety of brands the mall offers.

For Pacific Sogo Department Store Group, the new outlet within the mall is not expected to affect its Chunghsiao East Road location, Sogo chairman Chung Chin (鍾琴) said yesterday.

"We expect to create an annual turnover of NT$500 million to NT$600 million in the first year by offering quality cosmetics, lingerie and spa services in the 800-ping outlet," Chung said.

Rival Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store said it is not concerned over the mall's opening. Shin Kong has two department stores in the Hsinyi district and is expected to launch a third department store by the end of the year.

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