Nanjing Road, the epitome of commercialism in Shanghai, will undergo a 10-year facelift aimed at bringing it into the league of New York's Fifth Avenue. The local Government hopes the transformation - which will cost about 18 billion yuan (HK$16.9 billion) - will elevate the street beyond its current national reputation as a major commercial street. The district Government of Huangpu, where Nanjing Road is located, said it planned to achieve this goal through investments by both domestic and foreign companies. To kick-start the process, a Nanjing Road Forum to be attended by multinational companies including Nike, Warner Bros, Kodak and Citibank will be held today and tomorrow. 'The further opening up of Nanjing Road represents the further opening up of China's retail market,' said Huangpu district chief Xu Jianguo. Mr Xu said there were growing expectations of a retail boom after China's admission to the World Trade Organisation. A plan drawn up by management consultants McKinsey & Co has divided Nanjing Road into three theme sections. Taste of Tomorrow - billed as a cultural and entertainment area - would be one section stretching from Chengdu Road to Xizhang Road. From Xizhang Road eastwards to Henan Road would be Cosmopolitan Shanghai, featuring the biggest retail shops and malls. This section was converted into a pedestrian mall in 1999. Henan Road to the Bund would focus on the past in the form of Heritage Nanjing Road centring on the numerous colonial buildings along that stretch. The three sections total more than 2km in length. The transformation - when completed in 2010 - could triple the annual retail sales volume to 40 billion yuan, from the current 14 billion yuan, Mr McKinsey said. In the first seven months of this year, sales amounted to 4.8 billion yuan - a 14 per cent increase over the same period last year. Nanjing Road boasts some of the biggest 'time-honoured' brand names including China's biggest department store - the Shanghai No. 1 Department Store - and the Zhang Xiaoquan Scissors Shop from Hangzhou. Retail rent is among the highest in China at a monthly rate of about US$180 (HK$1,404) per square metre, according to DTZ Real Estate Co. However, this has not deterred retailers who regard Nanjing Road as a coveted commercial address.