Described as a “transformational” addition to Chadstone’s existing hospitality offer, the precinct will feature a number of new restaurant concepts, such as Cinque Terre and Cityfields, an all-day eatery from the team at beloved Melbourne brunch spot Half Acre.
There will also be some familiar faces, such as Piccolina Gelateria and UA Brewing Co, which will operate a brewery on-site, and a number of new entertainment options, including Strike Bowling, Holey Moley, Hijinx Hotel and Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq.
“It’s something different from what we’ve done before, and certainly different from what you could find anywhere else in Australia, particularly in a shopping centre context,” Vicinity Centres’ chief development officer Carolyn Viney told Inside Retail.
The size of the space and calibre of tenants is what makes The Social Quarter truly unique, and what shoppers have come to expect from Chadstone, Viney said.
“As Chadstone cements its position in the market as a dining and entertainment destination in its own right, we see people coming here at all times of the day,” she said. “They expect Chadstone to trade later into the evening and to be able to call in on the way home from work, or to come out with friends for a celebration.”
Proof of this can be seen in the shopping centre’s existing dining venues, which are consistently full, suggesting there is untapped demand.
“We’re always looking for those indicators of what our customers want,” Viney said.
How Chadstone stays number one
Ranked as the country’s most profitable shopping centre in 2019, Chadstone is the largest shopping centre in the southern hemisphere and has a reputation as a leading global destination for designer fashion. Viney credits this to the team’s commitment to bringing the best brands to Chadstone and constantly refreshing the offer.
“We know that our consumer preferences continue to evolve, and our goal is to do a great job of making sure that we are keeping up with that changing demand with different offers, different products, different experiences, and we are relentless in our pursuit of making sure that we bring those things for the first time to Chadstone,” she said.
“Our loyal customers have rewarded us time and again by visiting the centre to enjoy all of those new things.”
While some other shopping centres are still struggling to reduce their vacancy rates post-Covid – due to retailers permanently reducing their store networks, or shifting their focus to suburban shopping centres – Chadstone has the opposite problem.
“We definitely don’t have spare space, and in fact, we have retailers who want more space, so we have the enviable challenge of trying to provide more accommodation to make sure that [they] can grow as we grow, and vice versa,” Viney said.
That is why, in addition to The Social Quarter, Chadstone has started construction on another new precinct. It is building a fresh food and dining hall in a European-style market setting on the other side of the shopping centre.
“The aim of that project is to ensure that customers have all their daily basics and daily needs, but also that we’re able to offer them an elevated fresh food experience. That includes some of those high-street specialist providores that you wouldn’t typically find in a shopping centre setting,” she said.
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