Shinsegae Property building mega shopping mall in Gwangju
Shinsegae Property is building a mega shopping mall in Gwangju, joining the race to develop retail of scale in the city.
The mall, tentatively called Starfield Gwangju, will be built in the Seo District, Gwangju, near the Eodeungsan Tourist Complex, according to the Emart subsidiary.
Mega shopping malls are bigger than regular malls and department stores, having various facilities, such as theaters, restaurants, outdoor parks and hotels. COEX in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, and other Starfield malls are some examples.
Around 300 brands will open their stores in the Starfield mall. A water park and an entertainment center, where visitors can play sports and games, will be built at the venue.
A specific timeline for construction wasn't presented.
"We will do our best to finalize creating a construction master plan and go through necessary administrative procedures so we can start construction," said Im Young-rok, CEO of Shinsegae Property, at a press conference Wednesday.
Gwangju is the only major city in Korea that doesn't have a mega shopping mall, and that fact has become a political issue.
President Yoon Suk-yeol pledged a mega mall in Gwangju during his election campaign in March. Kang Gi-jung, the current Gwangju Mayor, also promised one for the city while running in local elections in June.
Hyundai Department Store is also planning to build a mega shopping mall in the city. The company announced in July a mega mall project on a 310,000-square-meter (3.3-million-square-feet) plot of land in Buk District, Gwangju.
The Shinsegae Department Store in Seo District isn't considered a mega shopping mall, but it will be expanded to become one.
It is currently on a 37,000-square-meter piece of land. Shinsegae Department Store announced Wednesday it will build additional facilities on a 132,230-square-meter area next to the venue. It will be called Gwangju Shinsegae Art & Culture Park, and construction will start next year.
After construction is completed, the Gwangju branch will become Korea's second biggest department store. Shinsegae Department's Centum City branch in Busan is the biggest.
To be qualified as a mega shopping mall, more restaurants will be added, along with an art gallery, bookstore, pet playground and a park on the rooftop of the newly constructed building.
There are 530 brands operating boutiques at the department store, and the number will increase to over 1,000 once construction is completed.
Having the three major luxury brands — Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Chanel — is considered key to attracting big-spending customers, and Shinsegae Department Store said it will try to host all three in the renovated branch. The branch currently only has a Louis Vuitton boutique.
If it manages to open boutiques of all three major brands, it will be the first department store in the Honam region — a term used to refer to Gwangju and North and South Jeolla — to do so.
BY LEE TAE-HEE [email@example.com]