Emporium to finally open

emporium oCFS Retail Property Trust will open The Emporium retail complex on Wednesday to capitalise on Easter weekend visitors to Melbourne’s CBD.

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The $1.6 billion project was to have opened prior to Christmas last year, but was plagued by construction delays and industrial disputes.

The delayed opening led to several retailers deciding not proceed with leases, and the complex will now open with around 170 tenants.

There are 225 shopfronts in the 46,000sqm complex, and the owners, CFS Retail Property Trust and the Singapore-based GIC, have indicated that more retailers will open in coming months, ahead of an official launch in August.

The owners claim that 90 per cent of the retail floorspace has been leased, with tenants including Topshop, Uniqlo, and Myer.

The Emporium is constructed on the former Myer Lonsdale St store with connections to the Myer and David Jones city stores and the renovated Melbourne Central complex.

The owners of Emporium were forced to write down the value of their investment in the new centre because of higher costs and lower than projected rents on stores as a result of subdued retailer confidence in prevailing market conditions over the past two years.

Architect, Buchan Group, has created a design to blend the heritage façade of the former Myer properties with a contemporary glazed, multi-level façade, which has been called the ‘jewellery box’.

Japanese firm, Wonderwall, has designed the internal spaces, which include a racetrack mall, glass elevators, three levels of food, and clear glass bridges into levels one to four of both Myer and David Jones.

While The Emporium will open with around 25 per cent of the shopfronts vacant, the complex has secured agreement from major retailers in the city to extend trading hours until at least 7pm every night.

More than 1000 stores in Melbourne’s CBD have agreed to extended hours, and could, according to Melbourne Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, consider lifting the minimum closure time to 8pm or later within the next two years.

Myer and David Jones already open until 7pm each night, and the push for extended hours has been led by international retailers that have either already opened in the CBD or will open in The Emporium.

The extended hours will begin on April 22 and will be tested by a Melbourne winter.

This article first appeared in Inside Retail PREMIUM issue 1995.

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