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Emporium Melbourne

SPENDING lots of money building a big new retail precinct, when shoppers are reluctant and internet sales are a threat, requires a key quality, confidence.

The Fashion Capital Melbourne

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SPENDING lots of money building a big new retail precinct, when shoppers are reluctant and internet sales are a threat, requires a key quality, confidence.

That's what one retail property investor has in spades - Colonial First State Global Asset Management. In partnership with Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, Colonial First State has started construction of Emporium Melbourne, the department centre that will replace the old Myer Lonsdale Street store.

Emporium will have 240 tenancies taking up 46,000 square metres of floor space. Emporium Melbourne is the city's largest shopping centre project. Grocon constructions will finish work on the $1.6 billion project in March 2014.

Of the 240 signed tenants this includes a much larger focus on food. Originally the new development offered 10 food tenancies with 500 seats, this is now up to 22 tenancies and 1200 seats. The centre opening will be accompanied by a two-year marketing campaign.

The project has been designed by Japanese company Wonderwall and local firm Buchan Group architects. Wonderwall has created a sophisticated louvre finish in the centre's atriums and installed understated stone-tiled floors, wherever you are, you can always see three levels of retail.

At Emporium, the developers are promising a judicious blend of old and new design. ''On Lonsdale Street - the main entrance - we will retain the heritage facades. A lot of structural steel is in place to hold up the facades, which we will refurbish,'' said Colonial First State's regional development manager, Daryl Stubbings, who heads the development team.

At ground level, the plan is to completely activate the street with boutique retailers, in Lonsdale and Little Bourke streets. A typical store is 100-150 sq m. However, the developers aim to attract concept stores - including large flagship stores - that will take up to 1500 sq m of space over several levels.

The ground floor will consist of well-known, casual international and high-profile national brands, while ''high street'' international brands will front Lonsdale and Little Bourke streets. Inside the store will be a ''racetrack'' mall - a rectangle in the middle of the floor with tenancies either side.

The main entrance will be opposite Melbourne Central, under the bridge that connects the two stores. Two entrances in Little Bourke Street will be opposite the entrances to Myer and David Jones.

Existing level 2 and 3 bridges to Melbourne Central will remain. Clear glass bridges, transparent and light, will be built over Little Bourke Street to link levels 1-4 to Myer and David Jones. Myer will take level 4 of the Emporium, and the lower-ground tunnel to Myer basement will stay.

There will be three levels of food, including a large premium end that will not be a food court. Levels 4 and 5 will be the restaurant precinct. An express glass lift from Little Bourke Street will go directly to the restaurants, which will operate independently from the store - they can trade late at night - but there will also be entry points from the store.

Holyoake secured this extensive development with design and development work with both Norman Disney & Young and the mechanical contractor in O.P. Industries Melbourne.