CENTRAL TAIWAN > TAICHUNG
> ARTICLES >
MAGAZINE, March 2002
AT THE MALL: Tiger City Claws Its Way Into Taichung
you're a North American, or have lived anywhere on that continent,
there's a good chance that you've spent more than your fair share
of time in shopping centers and malls. An all-American invention,
the shopping center has today revolutionized the global face of
retail and entertainment, having the same impact on the world's
cities that another American invention--the skyscraper--has.
Over the past couple decades, "hangin'
at the mall" has become a national pastime, not just
for teenagers, but people of all ages. They come to enjoy
the all-weather, one-stop shopping, dining and entertainment
experience that only a mall can deliver. A major icon of a
past retail generation, the American department store, has
only survived as a part, an appendage, of a mall.
There is little doubt that Taiwan itself is
now prepared to follow this trend, as a tidal wave of new
mall openings has overtaken Taipei, Taichung and other cities,
and shows no signs of abating. In Taichung over the past decade,
there have been more than a few developments which have been
touted as shopping malls but have fallen far short in many
regards, because of scale, lay-out, facilities and other factors.
However, it has not been until the past few months that not
one, but two, real malls have opened in the city. Both of
these, Tiger City and Taichung Central, are already bringing
a new standard to central Taiwan residents and lay the ground
for more of the same in the future.
The most recent addition, Tiger City, has gone all-out
to make a splash with the January grand openings of both the mall
and its largest tennant, Warner Village cinema complex. Although
relatively compact by American standards, the new mall has a decidedly
more American feel to its lay-out and design than its other city
counterpart, whose approach is slightly more like a department store.
by Jones Lang LaSalle, respectively, Tiger City boasts a total
of 49,000 square meters (about 15,000 pings) of interior space,
of which 28,000 is given to sales space. Most of this is spread
across three above-ground and two basement levels. Floors four
through six are filled by Warner Village, seven and eight will
be used for a City Club, spa and upcoming Warner Gold Class
VIP theater, and there is one B3 level for parking.
Tiger City is certainly one of the most striking
buildings in Taichung, an all-white structure that draws admiration
day or night and, in this case, actually looks like the idealized
architectural drawings that preceded construction. The mall's American
feel primarily comes from the fact that it features 100 stand-alone
shops, cafes and restaurants, versus the open-floor lay-out of department
stores. The one other thing that feels distinctly American is the
outdoor parking that surrounds the mall, something that one almost
never sees in Taiwan.
and otherwise, the focal point of the mall is its 3,305-square-meter
plaza, decorated with palm trees and a fountain and floor-lit
with blue and white lights at night. Overlooking the square
is one of the country's largest LED displays, showing movie
previews and other video clips. According to management, the
plaza will be used for a wide range of activities and promotions,
from live bands to movie openings (such as the horse-mounted
ring wraiths that galloped around during the "Lord of the
Rings" premier). For people-watching its hard to beat this
area, particularly if you choose to sit at first-floor Starbucks,
or overlooking, second-floor balcony of Aqua Bay cafe. Soon
to follow is Lavazza cafe, also with a balcony, above Starbucks.
Standing sentinel on the plaza is the striking,
three-floor glass tube housing the classy Cafe Blu and Le Blu champagne
bar (see What's New). Outside and to the side is a photo booth where
one can pose for pictures in front of famous and amusing scenes
from around the world. Another striking outdoor feature is just
behind Cafe Blu and down a flight of stairs. Here, a small sunken
square is bordered by the neat-looking Cha for Tea teahouse/restaurant
(see this month's What's New) and a blue wall of water. Water from
this fountain area follows a little canal into the mall's B1 level,
where the swanky, two-floor T-Thai restaurant offers a good buffet
of Thai cuisine (NT$580/lunch, NT$600/dinner). Opposite is the large
Dadido shabu shabu restaurant, owned by popular TV show host Liu
Er-chin, better known for his female impersonations of Vice President
the passageway all the way inside and you'll reach one of Tiger
City's other main attractions, the two-level Club SEGA. A heaven
for video-game fanatics, this state-of-the-art arcade has everything
from the standard fight games to the mind-blowing Sega Max Flight
VR2002 roller coaster simulater that spins you 360 degrees and
then some (NT$100/ride).
Back up on the first floor, there is plenty to keep
shoppers busy, from the upscale jewelry of Lih Win Diamond to the
more down-to-earth fashions of Tommy Jeans. Looking identical to
its US outlets is a Clarks shoe store, next to an attractive Stefanel
fashion outlet. Other stores on the same level include Everald Spa
Shop, with everything from aromatherapy to baby spa products; Anna
Sui's selection of sunglasses; The Perfect Potiion's beauty and
aromatherapy products; La Stella jewelry; fashions at Marie Claire
and Jorya; and other names like MCM, Lautreamont, Le Gatte Jeans,
Jamei Chen, and Tant Pour Elle.
up the escalator in the mall's circular hub and there are two
more floors of similar attractions. The second floor, which
focuses on "youth fashion", has a wide range of outlets
selling clothing, bags, shoes and other items that definitely
cater to the under-25 crowd. Shops include Soda, Buy or Die,
Kansas (Wrangler and other jeans), DCSHOECOUSA (skateboarder
fashion), Princess Tam Tam, Swatch, Roxy, and Macanna.
The third floor's "living and gourmet"
outlets include the NET and A&D clothing stores, herbal teas
and products at Just Herb, home products and decorations at Working
House, and a variety of beauty and spa products. Here, too, is the
food court, with about a dozen options, such as Italian gelato at
Ditrevi, Japanese cuisine at Kiku Kawa, beef noodles at Mercury,
Indian cuisine at The Spice Shop, and the ubiquitous McDonald's.
have plenty of options at the eight-screen, 3,000-seat Warner
Village which, looks and feels like a piece of America. State-of-the-art
movie technology and theater snacks like nachos complete the
image. Tickets can be purchased either at first-floor, open-air
counter, or at the third-floor Warner snack bar.
"Its quite important to make a good first
impression and make [customers] want to come again. I want this
to be a landmark, part of residents?lifestyle, so that they come
here two or three times a week, for the cinema, concerts, coffee,
art events and other activities," says Asai Tiger Group Chairman
Eagle Lai, the man behind this NT$3.5 billion project.
Lai and other mall managers anticipate 30,000
to 50,000 visitors per day and hope for an annual intake of
NT$10 billion. While it remains to be seen if that target
will be reached or not, the crowds that have already jammed
into Tiger City seem to indicate that a lot of Taichung residents
have already gotten used to hangin' at the mall.
(Tiger City is located at 120, Henan [Honan]
Rd. and may be contacted at 04-3606-8888. The mall opens at
11 am, with floors 1-4 open to 10 pm on weekdays and to 11
pm on Fridays, Saturdays and holiday eves. The B1/B2 levels
are open to midnight.)