Cultural-retail-entertainment complex for Pudong financial hub aims to duplicate Xintiandi success A financial hub is not complete without a vibrant nightlife. Lujiazui Finance & Trade Zone Development would like to fill that gap in Lujiazui, the central business district of Pudong, which becomes deserted at night. It plans to build a cultural-retail-entertainment complex in the area, including the restoration of a 121-year-old Shikumen architecture style villa into a hip lifestyle centre with a dazzling array of bars and restaurants. A spokesman of Lujiazui Finance & Trade refused to disclose further details but said: 'The project would serve similar functions to those of Xintiandi.' Considering the absence of nightlife facilities in Pudong, he said the project would spice up the commercial element of the area. According to the company's website, it intends to redevelop the site into an area comprising high-end restaurants, retail shops, art galleries and cultural facilities. The project is expected to be completed by next year. With about 200,000 office workers in Lujiazui, demand for trendy bars and restaurants will certainly not be lacking. The site, with an area of 12,000 square metres, has been cleared, except for the Shikumen architecture style villa which is being leased to the Noble House, a Shanghai restaurant. A spokeswoman of the Noble House said the lease would expire next year. 'Our business is quite good as many customers, particularly expatriates, are very much impressed by the villa's architectural style,' she said. 'They love to dine in an old villa and we are the only one here.' She hopes the redevelopment would make the area as successful as Xintiandi but she is also worried the developer would charge higher rents by then. Xintiandi features a wide array of facilities for specialist food and beverage, retail, entertainment and cultural events in restored Shikumen houses. Rents are rising with its increasing popularity among high-income groups in the city. Average rents at Vincent Lo's 57,000 square metre Xintiandi, which was completed in August 2002, rose from 85 US cents to US$1.02 per square metre per day when the leases came due for renewal last year. According to the listing prospectus of Shui On Land, the development fetched a rental income of 123 million yuan last year, up 26 per cent from a year earlier. The success of Xintiandi has triggered a wave of copycats across the nation. 'There are more than 40 Xintiandi-style projects being undertaken in China,' said Tony Wong Hong-wang who got involved in the Xintiandi project when he was at Shui On group. Mr Wong, now chief executive of his own company LifeStyle Centre, said the new project should have its own characteristics but not simply copying Xintiandi. 'The developer should take into consideration the customers' spending habits and behaviour because the clients in Pudong are different from those in Puxi which could support a high-end retail and entertainment complex,' he said. Richard van den Berg, the managing director and country manager for China at ING Real Estate Investment Management, said the concept of developing an area with a critical mass in entertainment, restaurants and high-quality shops can be used in many places in the city. 'But one should be careful when reproducing a development with such specific characteristics as Xintiandi's in another area. It is important to always look at the special quality of an area and use that to develop a project. It just isn't right to transfer something that works elsewhere without understanding the specifics of the area to be developed,' Mr van de Berg said. What makes Xintiandi stand out, he says, is that it has many historical buildings of the old Shanghai character and these are centrally located. 'It has a critical mass to attract a lot of people, which I do not see in Lujiazui which only has couple of villas,' he said. The market in Pudong, which has a small expatriate population, is different as well. 'Xintiandi is an area that attracts a lot of foreigners and tourists. Pudong will find it more difficult to bring tourists over from Puxi side,' Mr Van den Berg said. 'With a different catchment area, the characteristics for such an entertainment complex should be different.'