Shopping Centers Today International

APR 2016

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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C E N T E R S T A G E Fit for a queen Sydney, AuStrAliA'S Queen VictoriA Building offerS retAil in royAl Style By Michael Baker O n e O F t h e m O s t beautiful shopping centers in the world was never intended to be a shopping center. the Queen Victoria Building, in sydney, Australia, was completed in 1898 — just three years before the end of British Queen Victo- ria's 64-year reign. the Romanesque building, today called the QVB Centre, spans an entire city block that once was the site of a fruit-and-vegetable extrava- ganza called the George street markets. the craftsmanship brought to bear on its construction belies the somewhat pro- saic uses to which the building has been put over time. Over the 88 years between the building's completion and its conver- sion as a modern shopping center, it has been used at various times as a concert hall, a library and the sydney Council of- fices, among other things. Despite major remodeling in the 1930s, the QVB never quite hit its stride as a commercial building, and the demolitionists always seemed to be hov- ering. the structure narrowly escaped their swooping down in 1959, in fact. Ultimately, though, it underwent a ma- jor renovation, reopening as a shopping center in 1986. the building is now on a 99-year lease from the city by singa- pore-based GIC Real estate and being managed by retail property and invest- ment firm Ipoh Pty Ltd. Ipoh has focused on two goals for the center: creating a contemporary shopping experience, and restoring and enlivening the building's original heritage features. "We have taken great steps to preserve the building, and this is something we are committed to main- taining," said taryn mcGurk, Ipoh's group marketing manager. One exten- sive restoration effort, completed in 2009, included the installation of new escalators and elevators, a fresh paint job and some work on balustrades, car- peting, signage and bathrooms. Despite the QVB's prime downtown location, its core customer base com- prises more than just office workers. there is a strong following of tourists, particularly from China, who are at- tracted to the architecture and high-end retail. In the past 18 months the QVB has welcomed such brands as Furla, mi- chael Kors and Victoria's secret. One of the advantages vertical shop- ping centers have over ground-hugging centers is that it is possible to create more clearly defined precincts, as it were, for the various merchandise cat- egories. the QVB uses each of its six levels to sketch out such precincts for fashion, arts and collectables, acces- sories and food. As in many shopping centers, food is being integrated more widely throughout the building. so far, it is all working: the shop- ping center's 13,500 square meters (about 145,300 square feet) of gross leasable area churn out some A$245.7 million (roughly $185 million) in sales annually. the specialty store productiv- ity level amounts to some A$20,500 per square meter. today the QVB is not just a suc- cessful commercial enterprise, but also quite an architectural treasure among all those conventional alumi- num-and-glass towers. SCT 6 S C T / A p r i l 2 0 1 6

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