I was fortunate to have a very engaging meeting in Shanghai with the CEO of Lifestyle Centre’s in China a few weeks ago. Regardless of the difficulties of development in the “wild west,” Brian has created a very unique environment not often found in China. American real estate professionals in American can relate to the old phrase “its always bigger in Texas,” and in China the majority of projects are of mind boggling size and scale, to the point of intimidation for even the largest American developers. Many projects are so large and so massive, they almost seem fake (even thought the population and the demographics make them very real).
However, Brian has created a unique neighborhood that feels comfortable, safe and enjoyable as soon as you walk in, a scale that solid developers in America can digest and understand. Maybe it is just that everything around it is so big, but as you walk in the office space or into the bar/restaurant, you immediately feel as if you are at home. This is a neighborhood where you know all your neighbors, know the bartender, etc., as well as live work and play. This is definitely a model and product type that I could see being a huge niche market for LifeStyle centers throughout China, and the entry point for many developers and the development business in China. It also may be a way for “expats” to enter the market who are often dissuaded by the overly large intimidating structures often found in the Chinese markets.