#Latest* Sunrise Bhd unveils Malaysia’s first-of-its-kind creative retail centre


Sunrise Bhd executive chairman Datuk Tong Kooi Ong after unveiling Publika - the unique retail centre
within Solaris Dutamas

KUALA LUMPUR: Property developer Sunrise Bhd synonymous with the exclusive enclave of Mont’Kiara in Kuala Lumpur has unveiled Publika – the country’s first creative retail centre, integrating arts and culture with urban shopping and dining on May 20.

Publika, with a gross floor area of 800,000 sq ft, is situated within Sunrise’s 17.1-acre Solaris Dutamas, an integrated commercial and residential development which also consists of office suites, a Grade A office tower and serviced apartments. The RM1.5 billion development is located on Jalan Dutamas near Mont’Kiara.

The 5-level retail centre has a net lettable area of 335,000 sq ft and Sunrise has set aside about a third of the net lettable space for the promotion of arts and cultural activities, said Sunrise executive chairman Datuk Tong Kooi Ong in his speech before the unveiling ceremony last night. Solaris Dutamas will be completed by year end, while the retail centre is targeted for official opening by 1Q 2011.

The art and cultural theme to the project is MAP, or Making Art Public, will be offering public spaces for activities such as art exhibitions, performances, lectures, seminars and workshops throughout the year.

“Publika is the final component of Solaris Dutamas, offering more than shopping and leisure facilities. It is an avenue for interaction and community participation in the appreciation of arts and culture amidst an inspiring environment. Elements of art would be injected into the retail shops, public spaces and outdoor parks,” Tong added.

The retail centre will feature cafes, restaurants, fashion boutiques, quaint outlets, as well as homegrown retail brands. Tong said they are currently in talks with several larger scale retail operators. He said fashion retailer British India and a new food and beverage project by the Delicious Group have confirmed their interest to operate in Publika.

The retail concept was chosen to differentiate itself from the average mall, said Tong:

“My observation is when you visit an average mall, it is usually a family outing and the food & beverage outlets are more active and not the retail. From a business point of view, why not do the reverse?

“It is also timely as the current generation is younger and more educated, and when people do not have to worry about bread and butter issues, they will start thinking about art and culture. So, yes, I believe there is demand for our concept.”

When asked at a media conference earlier, Tong did not discount that executing and sustaining the unique concept might affect the developer’s financials. “It may be possible that it will affect our profit and loss, but we look at it as an investment. Once it is sustainable, it will support itself. It is also a form of corporate social responsibility in promoting Malaysian art,” he said, adding that Publika means public, making it apt for the retail’s concept of opening spaces to the public.

Meanwhile, retail consultant and joint leasing agent DTZ Nawawi Tie Leung represented by Ungku Suseelawati Ungku Omar, its retail regional head for South East Asia, who was present at the event said: “We were looking to challenge ourselves to find a unique inspiration for this retail center as retail can be so predictable these days. We are always trying to find something different, but at the same time it has to make sense for retailers.”

MAP, or Making Art Public, will be the key to the arts and cultural platform of the retail concept. Nani Kahar, retail designer and creative director of labDNA, said MAP offers public spaces for activities such as art exhibitions, performances, lectures, seminars and workshops throughout the year. MAP introduced in March its 5,500 sq ft open exhibition space known as White Box and a 6,000 sq ft 200 seat experimental theatre or performance hall known as Black Box.

Tong also announced Sunrise’s Retail for Charity Initiative set up in partnership with British India known as the White Elephant Foundation. Under this initiative, a retail outlet at Publika will offer merchandise donated by British India in the form of samples from its fashion collection and knick-knacks from their home stores. Proceeds will then be donated to the less fortunate.

Solaris Dutamas is fully sold, except for the retail center, which is retained for recurring income. It is an eco friendly development where district-cooling system using chilled water replaces the conventional air conditioning system.

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