What does a giant like SM do after having accomplished just about everything it had set itself to do? While there are companies that would just take things easy from there on out, as we have established in the previous 4 parts of this series, SM is one that never rests on its laurels.
Until now, SM is still building malls across the country and even beyond. Even among its existing malls, SM is still finding ways (yup, a reference to sister company BDO right there) to make the most out of them, stretching the limits in making them bigger than before. That is especially true for the 3 malls we have featured in this series.
Expanding (and Redeveloping) SM City North EDSA
It is fitting that SM’s first mall would be the first mall to be given the expansion treatment, with a makeover along with it, which began in 2006. This was a project that was long overdue as SM City North EDSA was starting to be left behind by SM Megamall and SM Mall of Asia.
But the more pressing concern for the mall was the eventual rise of a competing mall across North Avenue: the Ayala-developed TriNoma. With TriNoma’s advantage of being connected to the Line 3 North Avenue Station, and the renders showing it having a garden on the upper levels, SM had to “fight back”, so to speak.
The redevelopment began with the construction of a new building in the mall complex called The Block, which would house more of the “upscale” brands, as well as additional cinemas. The older Annex Building was also given a makeover and 3 additional floors at the top in 2008.
But perhaps the biggest change in the complex was to come in 2009 with the opening of the Sky Garden. Seen as SM City North EDSA’s answer to the top-deck gardens of TriNoma, Sky Garden is actually more of an outdoor mall concept than a garden, a venue of manicured lawns along with rows of stores and restaurants that offer alfresco dining. There are also other attractions like a carousel, man-made pond, and a performance venue as well.
Later additions include the North Link Building which is primarily an office building with some retail stores and the currently under-construction North Tower which will have a hotel and convention center like SMX and Megatrade Hall. But as it is at the moment, SM City North EDSA is, at this time of writing, the largest mall in the country thanks to these developments thus far. And it has looked quite good for this storied mall.
SM Megamall’s Disjointed Expansion
By contrast to SM City North EDSA’s expansion, SM Megamall’s expansion project which began in 2008 turned out to be a disappointment to say the least. Something I’ll get to a bit later.
The first phase of the expansion was the expansion of the eastern/ rear side of the mall’s middle area where Julia Vargas Avenue goes through. The expansion, called the Mega Atrium was a smart move and preserved the aesthetic of the mall.
However, things changed with the construction of Building C which became the parking building and DFA satellite office and Building D which became the Mega Fashion Hall where the new skating rink, IMAX and director’s cinema, as well as some upscale shops are located. For one, these two expansion buildings were very dissimilar in design and did not complement one another. They also did not complement the main mall building very well. So what we had was a disjointed mall complex, devoid of any uniformity or harmony at least. It was as if SM decided to put two random buildings in front just for the sake of expansion, ruining the classic mall facade everyone had come to know about the mall for so long.
To add to the disjointed development of SM Megamall, an office tower with retail space called the Mega Tower is being constructed at the time of writing right alongside the mall.
Making SM Mall of Asia the Biggest Again
At this time of writing, SM Mall of Asia is undergoing a major redevelopment and expansion which, when completed by around 2021, will make it the largest mall in the country again.
The plan involves the addition of two levels above the existing mall buildings and the rooftop will have a track and football field and parks. A new skating rink and food court would be opened at the expansion area as well.
Outside the mall, development has been frantic as ever with the opening of the S Maison, the upscale shopping mall counterpart of SM Mall of Asia and the construction of two notable projects: the Galeon Museum and the first ever Ikea store in the country.
The Legacy of the SM Malls
It goes without saying that SM’s shopping malls (already at 72 by 2018) have left an indelible mark on the country’s landscape. And even beyond with its presence especially in China, with one of them proclaimed to be the 2nd largest mall in the world.
At the moment, there seems to be no end in sight for the SM shopping mall. As long as SM keeps on not only building new malls but continuously improve on its existing malls and be in tune to the trends and demands of the shoppers, there is little incentive to bet otherwise, whatever one’s sentiment about SM and its shopping malls may be.
Acknowledgements as well to Wikipedia for the additional information on the 3 malls