The brilliant bund

Updated: 2011-12-02 09:08

By Shi Yingying (China Daily)

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The brilliant bund
A Costa cruise ship on the Huangpu River. [Provided to China Daily]

Three on the Bund and Bund 18 are not alone in heeding the siren call to reshape the area so that it embraces and blends tourism, residential buildings, business and recreation.

RockBund, at the northern end of the Bund, at the confluence of the Huangpu River and Suzhou Creek, is the next big thing. Spread over 94,000 square meters, 11 historic buildings are being restored, and there will be four new buildings.

RockBund is taking after Three on the Bund and Bund 18 by installing luxury retail tenants on the ground floor, serviced apartments and shops in the middle and fine-dining restaurants with panoramic views on the top. The first stage is expected to be completed by 2014.

"The first stage includes renovating these old buildings, each in its unique architectural style, and finding ideal tenants for them," says Eva Huang, senior marketing manager of Shanghai Bund de Rockfeller Group Master Development Co Ltd, the company in charge of the RockBund project.

It is clear that these shops, restaurants and offices will cater to the high-end market. Huang says the developer spent 40 million yuan on one of the 11 old buildings to convert it into an art museum, expecting that it would increase the value of nearby real estate in five years time. The museum is already open.

The World Expo last year, which brought 73 million visitors to Shanghai, has given the city's tourism a lasting fillip, and hoteliers on the Bund have been busy ever since.

"I first lived in Shanghai in the early 1990s, when Pudong was distant and desolate," says Margie Chiang, 42, a Chinese American working in Shanghai.

"There was no skyline to stare at from the Bund, only swampland. When Glamour Bar first opened, the shape of the Pudong skyline was beginning to surface. So it was from Glamour Bar that I witnessed Pudong go up."

Chiang says her first stop after returning to Shanghai from the US was Glamour Bar. "Ten years later it was unbelievable: a bold and captivating skyline that still takes my breath away."

When many people think of Shanghai the first pictures that come to their mind are of the Oriental Pearl Tower and of the Bund, and the latter has become a hot spot for the world's top hotel brands.

Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, controlled by the Kadoorie family in Hong Kong, opened its first Peninsula hotel on the Bund just before the Expo. The company, one of the oldest hoteliers in Asia, owned and operated four hotels in Shanghai in colonial times before World War II, all of them on or near the Bund.

"It's like a homecoming for me and the company," says Michael Kadoorie, the chairman of Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels. "We have waited patiently for about 60 years before returning to Shanghai and the Bund."

The hotel has a helicopter pad on the rooftop and a fleet of luxury vehicles, including two Rolls-Royce Phantoms, one of them a 1934 model.

Twenty-four swish retailers, including Chanel, Valentino, Giorgio Armani, Prada and Ralph Lauren, are located in the 7,000-square-meter Peninsula Arcade.

The hotel's neighbors include Fairmont Peace Hotel, Waldorf Astoria and high-end restaurants and clubs.