Each of the four markets is of great retail-related interest for different reasons. Singapore has a handful of centers that are fairly new, Hong Kong has its outstanding mix of sophisticated, sometimes edgy shopping center and street retail, and Shanghai is chaotic and still shaping itself.
Manila is also of great interest, not just for its frenetically busy conventional malls but also for its bold implementation of the open-air lifestyle center concept in the form of Greenbelt, developed and owned by Ayala Malls.
Having been involved with these centers for about 15 years in the US and seen them either scorned or botched in other countries, including Australia, I have been interested in what Ayala came up with in Manila ever since I first heard about Greenbelt.
The center has won a number of international awards but so too have a few projects that I would regard as a bit ordinary.
This time I was not disappointed. Greenbelt, which is anchored by a plethora of large-format casual dining establishments, consists of five buildings wrapped around a magnificent tropical green space. Some of the buildings are enclosed and air-conditioned and some are open to the breeze.
The retail ranges from luxury brands right down through fast fashion to the value end. In the middle of the green space is a church with a dome-shaped roof. Center management regards the church as a legitimate anchor in the sense of drawing pedestrian traffic that not only worships at the center but shops and dines there as well.
I am anticipating that the first movie documentary covering the cities visited on this trip will be ready for prime time before the end of the year, so please contact me if you are interested in obtaining more details about what is in it and where to get it.