26 May, 2016
The Avenue is a highlight of the rapidly changing retail landscape
The days of Wan Chai's "Wedding Card Lane" (Lee Tung) are gone, and forward-looking landlords have filled an overlooked gap in the district's retail market with well-rounded, unique and off-beat shopping experiences.
As an attractive alternative to Pacific Place, Central, and Times Square, Wan Chai is standing taller and prouder than ever, with its own eclectic mix of retail and office establishments, sustained by restaurants to suit the most adventurous of palates.
A new breed of educated, young and affluent residential tenants has helped change the neighbourhood ambience. Wan Chai's older areas still show their indigenous roots, and the late-night bars on Lockhart Road continue to party on, but a new lifestyle zone is emerging around the new retail and residential development at The Avenue.
Bridging Johnston Road and Queen's Road East, The Avenue's original, concept-driven retail scene is drawing in locals, as well as discerning shoppers from nearby Caine Road in the Mid-Levels, in search of tailor-made offerings.
New boutique clothing, leisure and homeware stores now mingle among the residential and office towers, and they are giving this once underutilised district a decidedly upmarket flavour. A selection of serviced apartments is adding to the district's allure for its upwardly mobile residents, who enjoy the convenience of being close to their offices, or to the amenities at Pacific Place in Admiralty.
Judging by the growing number of next generation retailers at The Avenue, the landlord's strategy of offering more reasonable rents within walking distance of Central is yielding dividends. Without a doubt, the exciting retail mix at street level also increases the appeal of the residential units above.
Interest among retailers has been heating up elsewhere in the vicinity, with sports brands such as Under Armour and adidas now renting premises on Johnston Road close to The Avenue.
"A significant number of transactions and negotiations are underway in Wan Chai. There, the landlords are more flexible about the rents demanded, and retailers are looking for a piece of the pie," says Terence Chan, Head of Retail, JLL Hong Kong.
"The Avenue is changing the face of Wan Chai, and it's drawing a very attractive tenant mix," he adds. "Johnston Road is evolving because of this new development, while further away along Queen's Road East, landlords are still fine-tuning and upgrading the tenant mix, but much depends on the size and potential usage of the shop space."
Minutes west of The Avenue is the more well-established Star Street shopping quarter. Here, clothing boutiques and lifestyle stores sit alongside an ever evolving range of restaurants that provide a more rewarding choice to take the weight off than the customary shopping mall coffee shops. As the landlords keen to beautify the area point out, catering to customers' lifestyle preferences and creating an enticing atmosphere is crucial in creating an attractive retail destination.
Key to the area's success is that many of the shops are owned by the same landlord, meaning that the tenant mix for both retail and office space can be carefully planned, implemented and optimised to best match shoppers' and workers' needs.
But best of all, the hungry shopper now has more choice.
Contact Terence Chan, Head of Retail, Hong Kong or visit our Retail webpage.
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Head of Retail, Hong Kong
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