San Tin Shopping City saga continues

Hong Kong’s much-delayed San Tin Shopping City outlet centre near the Shenzhen border is trying to find more tenants as it scrambles to meet a soft launch deadline after Christmas.

Import/export sector lawmaker Wong Ting-kwong is behind the project, also known as The Boxes. He announced in May the centre would open in July after a two-year delay.

Wong now says 72 tenants, accounting for 40 per cent of the 126,000sqft (11,705.7sqm) rentable floor area, had signed contracts with the mall.

“So far the occupation rate is far from satisfactory,” he says. “We will organise some trade fairs next week to attract more tenants. When we secure at least half of the 214 slots, we will have a trial run. I hope to make it happen after Christmas, but I can’t guarantee this.”

Wong says an official launch for the pop-up shopping complex will be organised once more than 80 per cent of tenant lots have been secured, ideally before the Lunar New Year.

“We are confident we can attract enough tenants,” he says.

Temporary permit

Meanwhile, the mall is under a temporary land-use permit that will expire next September, and the owner will need to apply for a three-year renewal from the Town Planning Board in March. Wong says tenants will have a 40 per cent rental discount until the permit renewal is approved.

An aggressive marketing campaign was launched an occupation permit was obtained from the Buildings Department last month. The project was plagued by delays for more than two years because of technical challenges posed by its design.

Wong came up with the idea several years ago to capitalise on the influx of mainland shoppers and traders buying baby milk powder, cosmetic goods and other goods in Hong Kong to sell across the border.

“We estimate we can attract about 10,000 shoppers daily on weekdays and more than 10,000 during weekends after we officially launch,” says Wong.

The mall owner Well Operation has secured a HK$120 million bank loan. Its parent company, the San Tin Shopping City Foundation, is the guarantor. Wong is part of the foundation.

Tenants signed up so far include cosmetics firm Bonjour, fashion company G2000, owned by lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun, and a VR game firm.

Features of the mall include booth games, a wishing well, rickshaws, a birdwatching area, a street art museum and music performances.

Wong says tenants also have concerns about the land lease. The 420,000sqft plot has been leased to the mall owner at a $1 nominal fee by Sun Hung Kai Properties and Henderson Land Development only until September, while tenants are encouraged to sign two-year contracts.

The 214 shop spaces are designed to look like individual containers. There will be 600 parking spaces and a shuttle bus service of up to 100 trips daily between the Gangxia train station in Shenzhen and the mall.

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