Replicating the Raffles City DNA
CapitaLand markets the Singapore brand abroad through the iconic mixed development
Issue: Aug 2011
Serviced by several different MRT stations, the Raffles City Singapore's location at the heart of downtown Singapore makes it a convenient location for work and play
The first Raffles City opened in Singapore in 1986. The integrated development was designed by internationally renowned architect, I.M. Pei, whose famous works include the glass and steel pyramid at the entrance of the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. At the time of Raffles City Singapore's completion, it boasted the world's tallest hotel, 73-storey The Westin Stamford Singapore. Today, the hotel, renamed Swissotel The Stamford, is the world's sixth tallest hotel. Along with the 28-storey twin-tower, Fairmont Singapore; the 42-storey office tower, Raffles City Tower; and a seven-storey podium with a convention centre and a mall, they complete the cluster that is Raffles City Singapore.
This "city within a city" has distinguished itself not only with world-class architecture but also with a choice mix of tenants that include luxury brands as well as specialty stores, and easy access to transportation hubs. One of the largest mixed developments in the country, Raffles City Singapore is located at the heart of downtown, sits atop the City Hall Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) interchange and is within walking distance of a number of other MRT stations. Its winning formula is one that its developer, CapitaLand is particularly proud of.
Said Mr Liew Mun Leong, President and CEO of CapitaLand Group, "Raffles City is our most successful signature mixed development with shopping malls, offices, hotel, and serviced residences."
In fact, it is so successful that it has become more than just another development. It has become a brand that CapitaLand is bringing to other countries where it operates in.
Raffles City Shanghai is the first Raffles City outside of Singapore
Raffles City Changning, the second Raffles City in Shanghai located in the Puxi area, near the Hongqiao transportation hub in Changning District
Building the Raffles City Brand
Since 2000, CapitaLand has been building Raffles City in gateway cities abroad, beginning with Raffles City Shanghai. Located in the Puxi area, Raffles City Shanghai now has a monthly footfall of about two million and enjoys near full occupancy for its office and retail space. To date, there are seven Raffles Cities in China. The latest additions to China's Raffles Cities are Raffles City Shenzhen and Raffles City Changning, the second Raffles City in Shanghai.
Of CapitaLand's decision to have more than one Raffles City in Shanghai, Mr Liew expounds, "As Shanghai is one of the most vibrant cities in China with a population of approximately 20 million, it can easily support a second Raffles City development. The Changning area is centrally located and enjoys high pedestrian traffic. Raffles City Changning, our seventh Raffles City development in China, will add to our portfolio of landmark projects in the country. Our Raffles City brand is well-positioned to benefit from China's continued strong economic growth which is projected to be about 10 per cent in 2011."
Another Raffles City that has begun development works is Raffles City Shenzhen.
Raffles City Shenzhen is located in the Nanshan commercial district in Shenzhen city. It is traditionally where many high-tech companies and tertiary institutions are located.
Mr Jason Leow, CEO of CapitaLand China Holdings, said, "Shenzhen City is one of the most vibrant cities in southern China. It is the fourth largest economy within China after Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. When completed, Raffles City Shenzhen will be a lifestyle destination in the Nanshan commercial district. It will also be well-poised to benefit from the continued vibrancy in Shenzhen and Hong Kong, both of which are key cities in the southern China region."
Raffles City Shenzhen, Raffles City Changning, Raffles City Chengdu, Raffles City Hangzhou and Raffles City Ningbo are all slated for completion in phases between 2011 and 2014.
Adding Dynamism in Every Locale
Today, Raffles City's integrated facilities are urban icons designed by internationally acclaimed architects, located within business or cultural districts of eminent world metropolises.
One of the distinctive features of the Raffles City brand is its contribution to the local community it is in. Singapore's Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong once described Raffles City Shanghai as "a new focal point in People's Square". Apart from adding to the buzz in the local communities, Raffles City developments also contribute to the economies. Raffles City Beijing, for example, was developed and opened in 2009 despite economic uncertainties in the wake of the global financial crisis. The fact that CapitaLand forged ahead despite the challenges was proof of its confidence in the China market, a gesture that was not lost on the local authorities.
Raffles City Shenzhen, designed by Benoy, will be a one-stop dining, shopping and lifestyle destination in the commercial district of Shenzen City's Nanshan District
Zhang Jifu, Bureau Chief of Beijing Investment Promotion Bureau said in his speech at the opening ceremony of Raffles City Beijing in June 2009, "As Premier Wen Jiabao once said, 'In the face of financial crisis, confidence is more important than gold'. The opening of Raffles City Beijing is a sign of strong confidence in Beijing and we believe that Raffles City Beijing will bring along the vibrancy and energy of the Singapore spirit into the Beijing economy."
Mr Lim Ming Yan, Deputy Chairman of CapitaLand China Executive Committee, said, "Raffles City projects are large scale integrated developments which add to the economic growth of cities where they are located. We are pleased to be able to contribute our experience in developing and managing across the various property types to create vibrant hubs for people in the city."
Raffles City Chengdu, designed by Steven Holl, took into consideration the fact that the city's water available per capita is only a fraction of world standards and implemented water-saving techniques including rainwater collection for irrigation
The Raffles City developments have helped in the eco-standing of the cities. Raffles City Chengdu obtained LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold pre-certification by the US Green Building Council for its effort in energy conservation and environmental protection. The design of the building took into consideration the climatic challenges and water scarcity of the city and used innovative microclimate and water-saving strategies. It was also the first in the city to use a ground source heat pump, drawing energy from the soil.
Finally, the Raffles City brand offers consumers all over the world what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has called "a glimpse of Singapore". Mr Miller from the US has stayed with Ascott Raffles City Beijing since early 2010. Living at the serviced residence block of Raffles City Beijing gave him an essence of the country.
"From Raffles City Beijing, I can tell that Singapore is very modern, cosmopolitan and has beautiful architecture," he said.
For Singaporean Judy Tan who has been working in Beijing for six months and stays at Ascott Raffles City Beijing, Raffles City Beijing reminds her of the familiarity of home.
"Before I came to Beijing to work, I worked in the US for six years. Having been away from Singapore for so long, it was good to see traces of Singapore stuff like the Bee Cheng Hiang shop in Raffles City Beijing," she said.
Raffles City Beijing, designed by Stephen Pimbley, located in the prime district of Dongzhimen is a trendsetter in fashion and lifestyle offering a slice of Singapore culture
For indigenous Singapore retail businesses, having Raffles City developments overseas help them gain a foothold into those countries. Companies, like BreadTalk which opened its first China bakery in Raffles City Shanghai in 2003, have someone familiar to work with that offers prime location in the cities.
International investors have also given a strong vote of confidence to the Raffles City brand name and actively participated in private equity funds that house the Raffles City assets. The Raffles City China Fund set up in 2008, which now has five Raffles City assets in China attracted US$1.18 billion of private equity and is the largest fund originated by CapitaLand to date. This fund was successfully set up despite the global financial crisis in mid-2008, a notable testimony to the draw of the Raffles City brand name.
Just as Sir Stamford Raffles, after which the Raffles City brand is named, who chartered untrodden territories, the Raffles City brand is also moving into new lands to plant the Singapore flag. This not only exports the Singaporean software but also realises CapitaLand's vision of "Building People" around the world.