This article was first published in The Straits Times on Nov 3, 1990
AN INTERNATIONAL consortium, led by upmarket furniture group BusinessWorld, is converting three dilapidated warehouses along the Singapore River into a major entertainment complex.
Zouk, as the riverside complex will be called, is located on the opposite bank of the Robertson Quay Conservancy Area, close to the King's Centre site.
More than $8 million will be spent on refurbishing the warehouses, according to guidelines of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). The project sits on a parcel of land leased from the URA.
Renovations to the warehouses which started in April will be completed early next year.
By blending the nostalgic old-world charm with ultra-modern services, Zouk's backers hope to rival the entertainment spots of the more prestigious Orchard Road tourist belt.
With an indoor area of 28,000 sq ft, Zouk will have a discotheque - one of the largest in the region - a Western restaurant, a cafe, a wine bar and a pub. Its backers promise moderate prices and amenities such as a large number of parking lots.
Zouk is the brainchild of Mr Lincoln Cheng, Managing Director of BusinessWorld and Abraxas, another furniture firm.
Mr Cheng said the consortium included a Malaysian-based group which runs discos and restaurants across the Causeway.
The entertainment complex boasts high ceilings and wide floor areas which will be made attractive, he said.
Some Greek and Australian chefs and other international culinary experts have been recruited. More than 100 personnel will be needed and a recruitment drive is now on, Mr Cheng added.
Asked why the word "Zouk" was chosen and if it had any meaning, he said the word did not have any specific meaning. "One can attach any meaning to it," he said.
Zouk is the latest project in the area, which boasts a "hotel row" along the Singapore River and various developments and shopping centre sites at Robertson Quay.
With several multi-million-dollar projects coming up, the warehouse area looks set to become Singapore's next big tourist belt.
Robertson Quay is the third and last piece of conservation land along the Singapore River.
Centrepoint Properties, which owns a number of warehouses along the Singapore River, is said to be considering "a number of development concepts".
Parkway Holdings and Hotel Properties, too, own plots of land there.
Shankars, with three plots there, plans to build by 1993 a $100-million hotel that rivals Raffles Hotel.