Destination Legoland for Chadstone

Legoland1Announcing the arrival of Australia’s first Legoland Discovery Centre, Chadstone Shopping Centre made clear its intention to transform into a world-­class destination.

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While the core business is still firmly anchored in retail, Chadstone’s $600 redevelopment is about, “giving more people, more reason to visit more often,” said Chadstone Shopping Centre GM, Anthony Rafaniello.

“If you look around the world at the premier shopping centres, they are moving from shopping centres to destinations,” Rafaniello told Inside Retail Weekly. As well as enhancing the centre’s dining and entertainment offering, a tourism strategy is also being rolled out, which includes running a free hourly shuttle from the city to the centre and a ‘fashion passport’ offering deals to visitors from more than 50km away.

Having cast an eye across the world for suitable attractions, the Chadstone team settled on a 2800sqm Legoland Discovery Centre, a unique indoor attraction, specifically designed for families with children aged three to 10 years old.

It will include Lego play areas, master classes from a Lego master model builder, and a Lego ride. Special party rooms for birthdays, a 4D cinema, and a Miniland exhibit featuring Melbourne landmarks will also accompany a Lego retail outlet.

The attraction will wrap around the new four level north atrium, a centrepiece of the development. It will be located in the entertainment precinct, adjacent to the Hoyts digital cinemas and eight restaurants, some of which have external cafes.

Artist's impression of Chadstone Atrium. Source: Chadstone Development website

Artist’s impression of Chadstone Atrium. Source: Chadstone Development website

Rafaniello is convinced that Legoland will drive significant traffic to the centre, and retail consultants agree.

MD of IdeaWorks, Danny Lattouf, said an interactive indoor attraction, such as Legoland, is a must for major shopping centres.

“If we take learnings from around the world, shopping centres play an important role in bringing more than retail sales to the future success of bricks and mortar retail,” Lattouf told Inside Retail Weekly.

“Referencing best in class global trends, Dubai Mall is at the top of the list, with an indoor ski park, aquarium, indoor soccer fields, and Sega Republic theme park. Other great references are malls in Tokyo with roof top skate parks and outdoor garden restaurant courtyards, and Westfield London being the home of the number one grossing Cinema in the UK ­outperforming the West End.”

In Australia, this trend has commenced with the addition of dining and services, Lattouf said.

In regard to Legoland, Lattouf said it is an effective format that showcases the brand’s promise.

“Legoland allows Lego to sell product through traditional retail formats and channels, whilst creating a platform for brand loyalists and new generations of Lego fans to get hands ­on and experience the wonder of what Lego has to offer,” he said.

Jon Bird, MD of Labstore Global, said that Legoland has been very effective overseas, noting that it’s important that Chadstone delivers a “proper” Legoland, not a glorified store.

“At 2800sqm, it seems like this will be done well,” Bird said. “I think it’s smart and entirely complementary to Chadstone’s positioning. Malls have had children’s playgrounds for years; this just takes it to the next level. And the Lego brand is a big drawcard.

“Shopping malls of the near future need to be less about ‘shopping’ as a reason for being, and more about dining, entertainment and leisure. Retail activity comes as a natural adjunct to the kinds of attractions that bring people to the centre.”

Legoland and beyond
The first phase of the Chadstone redevelopment has been completed, with the new bus interchange and taxi rank officially opened in July. A new Target store will open in September 2015, two new parking areas will open by November 2015 and a new, 10-­level office tower will open in mid-­2016.

Rafaniello said a series of announcements are still to come as the centre adds to its luxury and international offering.

Rafaniello said although shopping is their core business, that want people to visit Chadstone for, “a whole host of reasons”.

“You can now come for a night out, to dine, to be entertained,” he said. “We are looking at extending that with further developments, with the addition of a hotel and other facilities that are not part of this current expansion but are planned for a future expansion.”

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