LATE last week, Bangkok saw the launching of biggest and swankiest mall the country has ever seen.
Situated alongside the iconic Chao Phraya river, the US$1.6 billion Iconsiam is the latest massive mall and megacity to complement the Thai capital’s busy shopping scene.
With the aim of attracting 250,000 visitors a day, mostly from China and Hong Kong, the riverside project is home to a milieu of luxury shops and a large performance auditorium.
The huge complex includes international brands as Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Apple, among others. And those looking for local items and delicacies have over 300 local food and handicraft stalls representing the country’s 77 provinces.
Other major selling points include the Magnolias Waterfront Residences and The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok. The ‘megacity’ will also have a running monorail system.
“You can not only shop there, but also live there,” its official website said.
According to South China Morning Post, the developers have pre-sold more than 90 percent of the 525 homes at the two luxury high-rise towers. One property was even snagged by a Hong Kong buyer for a whopping US$12 million, a record high for Bangkok at US$1,549 per square foot for a 1,800 square foot penthouse.
Despite the hefty price tag, the property was considered a huge discount compared to Hong Kong, where a 2,300 square foot house in an equivalent area costs twice as much.
Iconsiam was built by three developers: Siam Piwat, Charoen Pokphand Group, and Magnolia Quality Development Corp.
Next year, the Iconsiam project is expected to open the second phase, which includes a 2,700-seat auditorium and museum. The project, in total, covers eight million square feet of retail and residential space.
“It is not just an integrated property project,” Chadatip Chutrakul, the chief executive of Siam Piwat Co was quoted as saying.
“It is a new destination in Bangkok that will tell millions of good stories of Thailand.”
In recent years, Bangkok has seen exponential growth in its malls, fuelled by a small luxury-loving local elite and some 35 million annual tourists, according to the AFP.
A third of the tourists are from China, who flock to the country for sun, sand and shopping.
Despite its ostentatious appearance, with many parts towering over poor communities, Chadatip insists the development would bring business to local communities.
“This is not just for business but to also benefit the surrounding communities and support businesses around the river,” she said.