Seoul IFC Grand Opening
Taubman’s first completed retail centre in Asia, Seoul IFC Mall, had its grand opening last week in Yeouido (Seoul, South Korea). The 430,000 sq. ft. centre is located completely underground on three levels, and features 100 stores and restaurants, a major bookstore, two-level H&M, nine-screen cinema, and an international food area. The project is the first major retail centre of significance (excluding outlet centres) to be built in Korea that is un-anchored by a major domestic department store chain. Seoul IFC is a major evolutionary step in Korea’s organized retail market as it suggests the virtual oligopoly control held by department stores Lotte, Shinsegae, Hyundai, and Galleria may be coming to an end. In addition to what Seoul IFC signals for Korean consumers on a broader level, the shopping centre also checks all the boxes of a great retail project in a dense urban environment.
Retail Amenity: Seoul IFC is located in Yeouido, a densely occupied island in the Han River that is home to thousands of office workers and residents. Although populous by North American standards, in a metropolitan area of 23 million, Yeouido has been largely overlooked by retail developers. Seoul IFC adds much needed retail amenity to Yeouido, particularly in terms of food & beverage operators which occupy an unusually high percentage of the leasable floor area.
Transit Connection: The project is ‘hyper-connected’ in terms of public transit with a nearby bus station and a direct underground link to Yeouido Station (with moving walkways). From Yeouido Station, two subway lines connect into Seoul’s excellent public transit network, including the express Line 9 that can take you to Gimpo Airport in 20 minutes. In fact, the transit seems to be so effective that on the incredibly busy grand opening weekend, Seoul IFC’s relatively small parking garage had plenty of available spots.
Underground Design: Despite being located almost completely underground, you would never realize it walking around Seoul IFC due to the light coloured interior finishings, high quality lighting, massive glass skylights, and expansive atriums.
Mixed-Use Development: Being located within the larger AIG-built International Finance Center (IFC) development, the project is about as dense and mixed-use as you can get. The overall 5.4 million sq. ft. project will be completed in 2014, and will include three office towers and a hotel in addition to Taubman’s mall component.
First-to-Market Brands: In a country where retail is noted for its homogeneity, being successful with this type of development necessitates bringing unique brands to the market. Taubman’s leasing team has had some major wins here and Seoul IFC includes a number of first-to-market brands such as Hollister and Mango. As if a Hollister wasn’t exciting enough for Korean consumers, they imported some American male models and had them wear nothing but swimsuits for the grand opening.
Below are some photos taken on opening day courtesy of guest Reurbanist author, Ray Chetti.