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Huangpu River waterfront in Shanghai:
development prospects and business opportunities

 The bustling Huangpu River waterfront.
This is the second part of a series on Shanghai’s key functional zones during the 12th Five-Year Plan period and business opportunities arising therefrom

During the 12th FYP period, the areas along both banks of Huangpu River will become one of the core functional zones for Shanghai’s development. In this regard, the comprehensive advantages offered by the riverside scenery as well as the history, the culture and the cluster of key development factors on the river banks will realise their full potentials. This will successively drive business and commercial development along the banks of Huangpu River, namely Lujiazui, Bund Source, Yangpu riverside, North Bund in Hongkou, Luwan riverside and Xuhui riverside. It will also step up the expansion of modern service industries and integrative services such as tourism, leisure, and culture and creative industries. Eventually, it will become a new area for the development of Shanghai’s service sector endowed with a rich cultural background, distinctive local characteristics, a convergence of service economies, booming riverside tourism, sound infrastructure and a riverside landscape with greenery.

1. Different advantages, different positionings

The Bund

For this district, planning guidance will be further strengthened and construction of key projects will be speeded up. Major efforts will be spent on developing a high-end service sector revolving around finance. The district's function in catering to high-end commerce, cultural and creative industries, tourism and leisure activities, as well as residence will be upgraded. As such, the district will house clusters of new-type financial institutions and extended financial services, and will become a showcase of financial ecology and financial culture.

Located at the confluence of Wusong River and Huangpu River, the Bund Source is developed around the building complex of the original British Consulate built in 1873. "No. 33, The Bund" has recently undergone renovation. The 14 western-style houses remaining in the complex have retained the architectural style of the 1920s and 30s and are now mostly used for showcasing international luxury brands. Yuanmingyuan Road has been developed comprehensively. It has been paved with dark granite and is now a leisure pedestrian street brimming with high-end clubs, western restaurants, bars, coffee bars and boutiques. The newly built Peninsula Hotel has succeeded in drawing an impressive list of luxury brand stores. Flagship stores of international luxury brands like Armani, Cartier and Zegna are also gradually staking their presence in the "world architectural buildings" on the Bund.


Lujiazui will upgrade its core central business district (CBD) function to serve finance and trade. Major efforts will be made to bring in regional headquarters of domestic and foreign corporations, operation centres, settlement centres, pricing centres, large trading enterprises, trade promotion bodies and industry organisations. In addition to the existing Shanghai World Financial Centre and Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai Tower (the tallest building in Shanghai) and China Finance Corporation (CFC) Shanghai Headquarters are now undergoing expedited construction. Transportation is getting easier and the quality of business facilities in commercial buildings is being further upgraded. Meanwhile, Shanghai IFC has succeeded in luring a host of top-tier international luxury brands besides Apple's flagship store. Thus, an atmosphere of high-end commerce is gradually forming in the neighbourhood.

The North Bund

Designated for shipping and financial services, the district is aiming at an integrated development of shipping, finance and trade. The focus is to develop high-end service industries so as to leverage the synergy of the enterprise clusters, the industry chains and the production factors markets so formed. These high-end service industries will be instrumental not only in forming a modern shipping service system for the Shanghai international shipping centre, but will also accelerate the development of a cruise ship economy and further improve supporting services in tourism, shopping, entertainment as well as the cultural and creative industries. The development of high-end service industries will also help towards forming a financial services system with a niche in wealth management so that, as a whole, the North Bund will become an important functional district for Shanghai as an international shipping centre and financial centre. As well, it will become an important component of Shanghai's central business district.

The South Bund

Shiliupu was the largest port in East Asia in the early 20th century. Drawing on "old Shanghai" culture as a backdrop and making use of the original shikumen-style buildings, the old dock structures and once-decrepit factories, "The Cool Docks" of South Bund are now reinvented into a trendy landmark that serves creative, arts, tourism, entertainment and leisure functions. For specialty dining and wining one can find, for example, Oak Barrel Wine and Bar, Michelin chef operated Stiller's Restaurant, Mythos Greek Restaurant and Bar, fine Chinese cuisine clubs, Red Bar and a number of cigar lounges. For creative, trendy shops, art gallery and commercial outfits, Shiliupu now offers product workshops with distinctive features, avant-garde art studios, a tourist souvenir centre, Smith Group CNA Architectural Design, Immense Natural Crystal, Shanghai Tattoo, Art Lover Gallery, Xie Aige Sculptures, etc.

Xuhui riverside

With the construction of top grade office buildings and the offering of high-end business and exhibition/convention services, this district will attract large corporations in setting up their headquarters. The focus is to develop high-end businesses while offering supporting services for commerce, cultural and creative industries and leisure industry. By boosting its function as a public activity centre, the district will turn into a magnet for internationalised high-end services. Major efforts will also be made to develop a headquarters economy and to encourage R&D and commerce so as to form a diversified, public and composite riverside business cum commercial services centre. With the construction of a riverside cultural theme park, a functional layout for the culture-leisure industry belt will emerge on Longteng Avenue. Through the development of an international community and improvement of public services and other supporting facilities, a comfortable and efficient environment of superior quality will be created.

Yangpu riverside

This district will capitalise on its advantages in tertiary education, R&D and innovation to foster the incubation, transfer and commercialisation of research results and to attract the settling in of research institutions and technology companies. While giving equal emphasis to heritage preservation and function expansion, construction of public open areas along the riverside will be accelerated and the development of a "fisherman's wharf" will be advanced. The district will transform itself from a locality of traditional manufacturing to a centre of modern industrial design and producer services industries. The design industry will in turn draw the convergence of headquarters of fashion and trading companies. The ultimate objective is to evolve into a modern service industry belt and a functional district that will embody Shanghai's image as an international fashion industry hub replete with innovation, creativity, technology, commerce, tourism, leisure, and convention and exhibition functions.

Minhang riverside

This district will make use of the extensive reach of the Zizhu Science Park and the resource advantages of its institutions of higher education to further attract the setting up of R&D headquarters and fashion and creative industries.


This district will see the setting up of an industry system around the Wusongkou cruise terminal and the construction of a cruise economy in the public space. This system will be flanked by industries in tourism, leisure, commerce and entertainment and driven by extended modern services industries. Eventually it will become an ecology activity district with integrated development in commerce, tourism and culture. As the second phase of the construction of the Battery Wetland Forest Park is now almost complete, it will allow facilities such as the Estuary Science and Technology Museum of Yangzi River to play their roles so that this district will become a hub for modern service industries characterised by its cruise services as well as a science education base with estuary ecology as its main theme.

2. Growing in tandem with commerce

Tourism and leisure industries

The tourism resources both on and off the banks of Huangpu River will be tapped by advancing the construction of landscape attractions and cruise terminals, by boosting sea-land linkage and resource consolidation, by improving tourist facilities and by developing new tourism products. Functions in tourism, leisure, culture, exhibition, folk customs, commerce and trade fairs will be bolstered further. This will establish a tourism and leisure belt which is commensurate with Shanghai as a world renowned tourist city and which embodies the riverside characteristics of a cosmopolitan city.

Tourism is inseparable from supporting facilities in dining, retailing, entertainment and hospitality. According to the 12th FYP, by 2015, the Huangpu River tourist boats by themselves will have to cater to more than four million tourists annually while cruise passengers will number as many as 600,000 per year. In 2011, per capita expenditure of international tourists in Shanghai was US$713 while per capita expenditure of domestic tourists was Rmb1,207. Of these amounts, approximately 55.1% was spent on dining and shopping. Thus tourism has a huge potential for driving commerce.

Creative industries

By bringing together industries in culture, media, design, planning, performing arts, entertainment and fashion consumption, the creative industries often give a bigger boost to consumption in specialty dining, leisure, entertainment, tourist souvenirs and the like. The Huangpu River waterfront will be actively developed as a belt for culture and creativity. The landscape advantages and historical culture resources of Huangpu River will be tapped in earnest. Eventually it will be a convergence belt for the cultural and creative industries, composing as key nodes the Expo Park zone which showcases best urban practices and innovation, the cultural-creative-tourist zone of the Shanghai dock at Shiliupu, the Shanghai Fashion Centre and the creative-commercial zone of Xuhui riverside.

In recent years a lot of old factory buildings and unused warehouses have been renovated as creative industry parks. Of the more than 80 creative industry parks developed, some 10 to 20 are located on the banks of Huangpu River, including, for example, Zhonghuan riverside on Xiangyin Road, Yangpu District; Dongfanggu and Creativity Alliance on Pingliang Road; Jianqiao 69 on Tongzhou Road, Hongkou District; the warehouse on Waima Road in Huangpu District; Huifeng creative cluster on Xitai Road and "2577 creative cluster" on Longhua West Road, Xuhui District. The former site of Shanghai No. 17 Cotton Textile Mill on Yangshupu Road is now converted to Shanghai Fashion Centre. With a floor area of 35,000 m2, the original factory is the largest and the best preserved "sawtooth" building passed down from Shanghai's industrial era. It is now converted to a high fashion warehouse that comprises an experience zone for top international labels, a fashion accessory lifestyle zone and a fashion sports cum leisure zone. Combining the six functions of a fashion club, a show floor, a boutique warehouse, offices for the creative industry, dining/entertainment facilities and designer studios, Shanghai Fashion Centre has become a dazzling new landmark in Shanghai.

Conventions and exhibitions

Trade fair events require the support of industries in retailing, dining, hospitality as well as producer services and consumer services. Commerce fulfils demand of trade fairs while trade fairs bring regular customer traffic and spending power to commerce. Commerce also raises the yield of commercial buildings. Business people have relatively higher incomes and higher spending power. They pursue fashion and brands in their dining and shopping and they are particular about ambience and taste. All these will provide impetus to the development of emerging commerce.

from special correspondent Qi Xiaozhai, Shanghai

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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