GUANGDONG Investment expects to earn 200 million yuan (about HK$186 million) a year in rental income from Tianhe City, its large shopping centre in Guangzhou, from 1997. Director and deputy general manager Tang Zhen said the amount, which excludes the rental of car park spaces and advertising costs, would be a permanent source of income for the company. He said half of the 1.1 million sq ft of lettable retail space had been taken up. 'When the shopping centre opens formally in August, 75 per cent of the space will have been taken up,' Mr Tang said. He said the biggest tenants were Guangzhou's Tianmao Nanfang Building Department and Japanese department store Jusco. The two accounted for 322,920 sq ft of floor space. Mr Tang said the company expected a big jump in rental income in 1998, when the Metro line started operation. The company rejected suggestions that government austerity measures were taking a toll on the retail market. Deng Beisheng, director and general manager of Guangdong Enterprises (Holdings), parent company of Guangdong Investment, said: 'Many people think the retail market is not doing well and consumer buying-power is dwindling, but this is not the case.' He said the key was in 'market positioning' and goods sold had to be within the affordability level. Mr Tang said the focus of Guangdong Investment's property interests would remain on its huge residential development, Riverside Garden project, in Panyu, Guangdong. The site was expected to be developed over 10 years, he said. Executive director James Cai Jinghua said 40 per cent of the 73.4 hectares of land for the project had been developed and about 3,000 flats built. He said the Panyu government was ready to provide a further 66.7 hectares should the company need it.