Historic sites in demand for private events, says Singapore Land Authority

Fashion brand Hermes organised a sporting event last November at the former International American School in Lorong Chuan for its clients and their families, while culinary company My Private Chef held themed dinners (above) at the former Tanjong Pag
Fashion brand Hermes organised a sporting event last November at the former International American School in Lorong Chuan for its clients and their families, while culinary company My Private Chef held themed dinners (above) at the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station in 2012. -- PHOTOS: DARREN SOH, MY PRIVATE CHEF
Fashion brand Hermes organised a sporting event last November at the former International American School in Lorong Chuan (above) for its clients and their families, while culinary company My Private Chef held themed dinners at the former Tanjong Pag
Fashion brand Hermes organised a sporting event last November at the former International American School in Lorong Chuan (above) for its clients and their families, while culinary company My Private Chef held themed dinners at the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station in 2012. -- PHOTOS: DARREN SOH, MY PRIVATE CHEF

Interest sparked by SLA's efforts to market them as unusual venues

Historic sites such as the defunct Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and former Kallang Airport are being increasingly hired out to host private sector lifestyle events.

Fashion shows, product launches, exhibitions, pop-up restaurants, plus sport and fund-raising events have all been held using short-term licences from the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).

It told The Straits Times that it is issuing 50 per cent more Non-Renewable Temporary Occupation Licences for these than it did in 2010. Around 30 were issued in 2012 alone - 16 for the use of the former railway station.

They are handed out for one-off events on state properties and land for a fixed duration of no more than 90 days.

The SLA said the increase comes after it stepped up marketing efforts in 2010 to promote the sites as unusual event venues.

"State properties are often rich in history and character and are popular with the public," said its director of land operations, Mr Lee Seng Lai. "Where possible, SLA will market these properties for short-term use so Singaporeans can enjoy events held there and bask in the charm that these properties offer."

Events industry players say there is a growing interest in heritage sites among a more well-travelled and discerning crowd eager for unusual venues.

There are 19 properties that can be hired out on these licences. They include the old Mee Toh School compound in Race Course Road, the former Guillemard Camp in Dunman Road and the former View Road Hospital. The list is updated every six months

Tanjong Pagar Railway Station was gazetted as a national monument when it closed in 2011 after 79 years in operation. It has since played host to private culinary events, fashion shows and product launches.

"It's a grand building with a rich history," said Ms Crystal Chua, 39, the director of culinary company My Private Chef. "We used the opportunity to embed its past with our menu by featuring food from Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore - the stops the trains used to make."

Rental costs for the railway station range from a few hundred dollars for small-scale community events to around $6,000 for larger occasions like fashion shows.

Creative agency Iris Worldwide Singapore, which has used state properties for product launches for the likes of Heineken, has been on the lookout for venues that stand out.

"These venues help to elevate an event," said its production director, Mr Eam Sumati, 40. They have also been used by Tanjong Pagar GRC and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

Property analyst Nicholas Mak of SLP International said it is a win-win situation for event organisers and the state. "It's a way for the Government to generate income while giving organisers a chance to utilise unique venues which provide relief from the usual hotel function halls and convention centres."

However, the costs can mount. "The investment is typically much higher as most of these spaces require massive cleaning, pest control, painting... on top of decor," said a spokesman for fashion brand Hermes Singapore, which has rented the old station.

Architect Lai Chee Kien also cautioned: "Some are potential heritage buildings and, should they be damaged by the tenants, would they be able to do requisite repairs and maintenance?"

melodyz@sph.com.sg

 

 

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