While Some Owners are Happy, Many are Disappointed
Marketing Agent, Savills Singapore announced the end of the bid to launch the collective sale of Queensway Shopping Complex, that has been ‘Singapore’s Sports Mall’ and one stop shop for sports apparel and accessories since 1976.
This Tuesday (Nov. 26) Senior Director of Investment Projects, Ms. Suzie Mok conveyed that the Collective Sales Committee, set up in April last year for the Collective Sales Agreement signature campaign failed to meet the statutory requirements.
Lack of enthusiasm and indifference that were evident among the shop owners of the 241 retail units resulted in the failure of the en bloc attempt that has an adjacent 78 residential apartments as part of the mixed development.
As per statutory requirements, launching a property for en bloc requires consent from owners with 80% shareholding or strata area ownership for buildings more than 10 years old and 90% for buildings less than 10 years old.
Queensway Shopping Centre has more than 20% owners unsupportive of the en bloc launch, though the exact percentage remains unknown.
To the relief of these dissenting owners and tenants, the end of the present campaign was announced last month.
Had the 43-year old freehold development endured the process and succeeded the en bloc, it is estimated to fetch more than S$500 million.
Depending on how much they could gain or lose from the collective sales, there were mixed reactions from the owners and occupiers of Queensway Shopping Centre for the failed attempt.
Understandably, the tenants were relieved and happy about the failed attempt as they could continue their businesses longer. They believe the building to be an iconic spot and cannot become better through redevelopment.
Since most retailers fall in the Baby Boomers / Generation X categories, they show strong attachments and express their desire to remain in the place forever.
The greatest concern of the retailers was to retain the regulars who frequented the place over the years; their toughest endeavour would be to find an affordable new place in case of a successful en bloc.
While some occupiers understand that decline in footfall and drop in annual business in the recent years are some compelling reasons for the building to transform, others who could afford to keep it running for namesake welcome the unsuccessful attempt.
Some prudent aged owners, however, wish the collective sale to happen in order to save money for their retirement, being fully aware that en bloc provides maximum value for their asset rather than individual sales.
Understanding the predicament of the 43-year-old construction that is losing its appeal with the public with meagre rental yields, they are quite disappointed and worried over the results of the en bloc.
They understand that the delay would degrade the place further if business continues to be dull and the retailers don’t bother to revive and recover.
Something like Queensway Shopping Centre to be included as part of the Queenstown Heritage Trail speaks how it thrived as a social hub in the 70s and 80s.
Memories of the first ever escalators of the city and the Jumbo Coffee House were people thronged for their rendezvous cannot be easily forgotten by Queenstown and the nearby Brickworks and Bukit Merah neighbourhoods.
En bloc has been especially challenging for mixed developments all along.
While it is easier to relocate to a different residential neighbourhood, relocation of business involves greater risks of losing the golden goose altogether.
But progress includes the determination to undergo such transformations for the sake of the society at large.
Until some start to think forward and more than 80% of the owners sign the Collective Sales Agreement, the desperate ones who initiated the timely collective sales efforts will have to wait a while.