The brilliant bund

Updated: 2011-12-02 09:08

By Shi Yingying (China Daily)

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The brilliant bund
A bird's-eye view of the Bund in Shanghai. [Wang Song / Xinhua]

A makeover that enhances the old and brings in the new is an irresistible magnet for tourists in Shanghai

Anyone who is away from Shanghai for five years or more is likely to be surprised on seeing the city's most famous location when they return. Of course, the Bund, as ever, teems with tourists strolling along the riverfront and posing for photos with the Oriental Pearl Tower in the background, but the 2-kilometer stretch along the Huangpu River is beginning to throw up tantalizing new treats as a makeover that has been years in the making continues. Beyond being a tourist attraction, the Bund is being turned into a magnet for the wealthy.

Three on the Bund, the renowned 95-year-old Union Building on the corner of the Bund and Guangdong Road, has been transformed by the American architect Michael Graves and now radiates swish opulence. Its tenants include Evian Spa, (massages up to 5,000 yuan, that is $785 or 590 euros), and an Armani flagship store.

On the other side of Three on the Bund, M on the Bund and Glamour Bar, among the first high-end establishments to open on the Bund, are packed most nights, and it is obvious why: they offer views as delightful to the eye as the food and cocktails are to the mouth.

At Bund 18, a relative latecomer, the keyword is also luxury, and names like Cartier and Zegna are to the fore.

"A lot of our tenants look at the Bund as a window to the world," says Sylvia Lee, chief marketing officer for Bund 19 Real Estate Development Ltd. "Investment from overseas has always been interested in getting a piece of the Bund."

Now, it seems, they are getting their wish.

When Bund 18 was being planned about 10 years ago, the local government insisted that some of its space be devoted to the riverfront's long-time industry of banking. But with Shanghai Expo came a change of heart.

"They reconsidered some of the arrangements along the Bund and got leisure and tourism into the area in addition to banking," Lee says.

Developers say that in bringing luxury destinations to the Bund they are simply heeding the wishes of the government.

"They are targeting it to be a higher-spending area as opposed to middle-market areas like East Nanjing Road," Lee says. "We're just following the trend."

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