Golden Mile Complex, the iconic landmark looks all set to go en bloc with over 80% of the owners having given their consent to it in a notice dated 3rd of August 2018.
Known for its distinctive step-terrace architecture the news of collective sale has been received with disappointment by heritage experts in the city.
724 owners who own 550 units between them have put their signature on the agreement which makes it 80.83% share value and over 85% strata value of the property. This puts it above the minimum 80% consent. A mixed use site it is located between Beach Road and Nicoll Highway and has all together 718 units.
The 16-storey leasehold project was completed in 1973 and has 49 years of its lease-term remaining. There are around 400 shops, 70 residential apartments and more than 220 offices at the site according to a report compiled few years ago.
DP Architects’ William Lim, Gan Eng Oon and Tay Kheng Soon had designed the complex. It is the same firm that had also designed Singapore’s iconic People’s Park Complex.
The Collective Sales Committee has hired Edmund Tie & Company as the marketing agent for the sale. Interestingly the previous collective sale attempt in 2010 didn’t meet with success.
72-year-old consultant Alan Lim who owns a unit at Golden Mile Complex and has been working for decades at this place said that he was still undecided about the en bloc commercial sale.
According to him, Thais and Singaporeans comprise majority of the owners and he’ll surely miss this place if the en bloc commercial sale goes through and the structure get pulled down.
But he is still apprehensive about finding potential buyers in the light of recent new cooling measures. He added that the market isn’t conducive at the moment and the older owners of business units are looking for retirement while the younger lot wants to monetize their holdings.
Architectural and heritage experts in the city are saddened with this development and term this as a great potential loss for Singapore if the en-bloc sale results in the demolition and redevelopment of such an important urban landmark with such high architectural and social significance.
According to Ho Weng Hin, a conservation expert said that the loss of this site which is of great social and architectural significance will be irreplaceable loss when this important landmark is pulled down.
Most people in the heritage community have requested authorities to discuss the prospects of conservation of this complex with the stakeholders instead of pulling it down.
They have suggested rehabilitation of the owners and remodelling the structure for new use. Mr Ho added that this sustainable model should be applied in the case of similar urban redevelopment projects.
For this there needs to be creativity and courage in the thought process and bring back the innovative spirit which was used by the pioneers of this city while envisioning it.
In March this year Golden Mile Complex was identified among four post-independence landmarks that were at the risk of being lost in the future with half of their 99-year lease term having been completed.
Other structures included in the list were Beach Road’s Golden Mile Tower, People’s Park Complex as well as Chinatown’s People’s Park Centre.
Heritage experts have constantly rated the first three developments of great historical and architectural significance. Each one of them is great example of Brutalist-architectural movement where regular plaster isn’t applied over off-form concrete structure which creates a sense of solidity and ruggedness.
According to the experts they represent a very important chapter in the country’s post-colonial history. Interestingly all three of these came up on 99-year old Leasehold sites that were given during initial Land Sales Programme by the Government in 1967.
In a bid to save these structures and create awareness around them forums have been raised. Darren Soh, noted landscape and architecture photographer has released a book and is also part of a series of programmes and exhibitions named En Bloc, or Buildings Must Die.
Singapore Heritage Society along with Sub After Dark is organizing these programmes. The main idea behind them is to create awareness about conservation of similar structures and passing down the heritage. The exhibition would start on 21st of August.
As far as the realty side of this en bloc sale goes developers’ interest in the property would solely rest on its asking prices according to Nicholas Mak, Executive Director at ZACD Group.
He also agreed to the fact that if it finds a developer a part of Singapore’s heritage would be gone forever.
He added that the Golden Mile Complex has always been known for its flourishing Thai community and it was popularly called “Little Thailand” as most Thai workers who have played an important role in the city’s construction would flock there in dozens thanks to the several food stores serving Thai cuisines.
Most of the food sold here is prepared using organically grown ingredients. He signed off saying that till date many Singaporeans visit this complex as most of Malaysian bus companies have their offices there which offer transport services to Malaysia.
It is interesting to note that earlier in February another landmark structure Pearl Bank Apartments known for its horseshoe-shaped designed located in the vicinity of Outram Park MRT station was bought by CapitaLand in an en bloc sale for $728 million.