Shanghai's got a bit of a thing with restoring old compounds and turning them into hot, hot real estate. Looking at you Xintiandi and Zhangyuan 99. Changning's Columbia Circle, a place you don't hear much about, has come up on the schedule.
So What's This Columbia Circle Thing?
Just off Yan'an Xi Lu near Panyu Lu is an old compound tucked between high-rises. It used to house, among other things, the old Navy Club, which has the nicest pool in Shanghai you've never heard of. It was also home to the Columbia Country Club, a popular hangout for Americans in the 20's to 40s, and a mansion built for Sun Ke, the son of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, by Shanghai's Hungarian granddaddy, Lazlo Hudec.
After serving as a biological institute and then lying vacant for a few years, Vanke group rented it in 2016 and started major renovations. Jump forward to now, and we're seeing the space slowly but surely come alive with what you expect from big developments: office space, but also a boatload of F&B and creative hub stuff. Here're some pictures.
Brew Bear is open! First one off the bat, like a month ahead of the others, an outstanding poolside location--
But You Can't Swim In The Pool!!
Perhaps understandable, considering it's going to be surrounded by restaurants and bars, but also a travesty because look at this fantastic freaking pool.
So. So, yeah. As I was saying, Brew Bear is open.
So is Inkwood, an artsy, zen-looking concept (design by Studio 8) for a wanghong chef named Beichuan, who came to prominence via reality TV show. Reviews have been mixed, but it's the only place for now to get food.
What's Coming In?
Oh man, so much stuff. VOL's rumored plans to take over a building appear to have fallen through. Muse is doing something but we couldn't get any more info than that. Just going to blaze through what we do know here:
A grand total of three concepts from Pirata, Pirata, which is the familiar tapas spot, Latin Woo, which is more of a Cuban/Mexican place, and Hulu Sushi which is, uh, sushi.
Popolo's contribution is Circo, set to open in a couple weeks. They weren't clear on the concept, but they promise there'll be "circus" elements involved. Don't expect Cirque Le Soir, judging by the space.
OHA Design is bringing us the rebranded Blackbird, which is now a whole building including Bar Black and Table Black. They promise living-room vibes and "interactivity." Sounds menacing. The rooftop garden has an herb and plant garden for chef Blake Thornley to pick from, as well as being a spot for brunch and drinks.
And here's what it's meant to look like:
Pictures courtesy of OHA
The hoarding also reads Twigs, but they say that's a concept they're saving for another time.
The ever-chic Seesaw Coffee has a space going in as well, just across from Yicheng Bookstore, a multi-purpose cafe/library spot in a geometrically windowed building.
Sam Norris (of Xime fame) is doing something called The Parlour, set to open in about two months. It'll be a "casual luxury restaurant with a focus on high-quality grilled meat and Neapolitan style pizza," cocktails, wines and, we've heard, a wood-fire oven/discoball hybrid. Sam Norris is running the kitchen alongside Arthur Joseph, who's previously worked with Claude Bosi in London. His last position was Shackfuyu, where he oversaw the Robata grill.
Sumo Cat Yakiniku is opening at the end of the month. It's yakiniku grilled meats, rather than their usual ramen gig, throwing in the hiphop DJ set/EDM thing they dabbled with at Ramen Club, minus the anime. Also a poolside spot locked behind plyboard for now, it's set to look a bit like a club.
Pictures courtesy of Sumo Cat
There's also a fitness spot called V+ Fitness and finally, a naked Hub.
They'll reportedly be taking over the second floor around the pool. UPDATE: Nope, they're taking over a still-unfinished office building in the north-eastern segment. That looks like it'll be open in July, according to their website. But again, still can't stress this enough, the pool is not for swimming in.
Because we can't have nice things.