Alkaff Mansion site up for lease

Vacant since 2003, it can be an F&B outlet or spa, among other uses

The SLA’s guide rent for the former Alkaff Mansion is $28,100. — ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

THE former Alkaff Mansion, a majestic conserved building perched on top of Telok Blangah Hill Park, has been put up for lease by tender.

Once a popular wedding venue, the property has been vacant since late 2003 but is now being made available for various uses, including a food and beverage outlet, an art gallery, a wellness or spa facility, or a museum.

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA), which launched the tender yesterday, said it has received inquiries from individuals and businesses keen to use the property. Its guide rent is $28,100 a month.

Yemeni businessman Syed Abdul Rahman Alkaff built the property as a family retreat in the 1920s.

It made the news in 1990 when it was turned into a dining and entertainment hub after a $5 million makeover. It was given conservation status in 2005.

A new lease of life awaits following earlier suggestions, including turning it into a one-stop bridal service destination, a hotel or a club for companies to hold meetings.

Dr Kevin Tan, president of the Singapore Heritage Society, had reportedly said the building could be turned into a heritage centre for the Telok Blangah area, especially as it was the traditional stronghold of the former Temenggong of Singapore and his family.

The property has views of Sentosa island and the sea but it lacks a critical mass of buildings or space to attract customers of different tastes, said Ngee Ann Polytechnic real estate lecturer Nicholas Mak.

It is a ‘destination place’ and cannot rely on casual walk-in customers.

‘Furthermore, any business on this site needs a significant amount of marketing to create and maintain awareness among the customers,’ he said. ‘It is expensive for a single business to shoulder the entire marketing bill for a restaurant on this site.’

Mr Mak believes these factors will mean the tender’s take-up rate could be low. ‘Since the previous operator had failed to operate it successfully as a restaurant, it could deter other similar operators from bidding,’ he said.

Businessman Ong Beng Seng’s Hotel Properties leased the property for 15 years from 1990 from Singapore Tourism Board, which returned it to the SLA last year.

Times were good in the 1990s, but business was hit in 2001 when the economy dipped and then the Sars outbreak came in 2003, forcing it to close that year.

The building has a land area of 8,984 sq m and an approximate gross floor area of 1,220 sq m.

The SLA, which will host a site show-around next Wednesday, said the tender is for a tenancy with an initial term of three years and renewable for another two terms of three years each. The tender closes on April 6.

Other key state buildings awaiting a similar rebirth include the Queenstown Remand Prison and Old Kallang Airport.

Source : Straits Times – 17 Mar 2010

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