Tenants upset over Evans Rd shambles

The eating area in Evans Road has been in a state of dilapidation since master tenant Winsta Holding declared bankruptcy, say tenants. Broken tiles littered the sidewalk, makeshift drain covers were upturned, and the carpark gantry remained broken wh
The eating area in Evans Road has been in a state of dilapidation since master tenant Winsta Holding declared bankruptcy, say tenants. Broken tiles littered the sidewalk, makeshift drain covers were upturned, and the carpark gantry remained broken when The Sunday Times was there last week.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

They complain about damaged drain covers, broken lighting and filthy toilets at hang-out

Several tenants of a hang-out spot at Evans Road are unhappy that the place has lapsed into a state of dilapidation.

At least one eatery, The Wine Company, has already moved out of the spot near the Bukit Timah campus of the National University of Singapore.

The trouble seems to have started after the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) terminated its tenancy agreement with master tenant Winsta Holding on July 31 as it was unable to settle its arrears for the 8,957 sq m site at 26, Evans Road.

Winsta Holding made headlines when it was put into voluntary liquidation in August after an internal audit found that several employees were involved in "undisclosed interested party transactions".

Tenants said that since then, they have had to contend with issues like broken drain covers, broken lighting and filthy toilets.

The carpark gantry there has also been broken for months, attracting non-customers who park there for free.

Owner of coffee joint Assembly Coffee, Ms Daphne Goh, 24, has made plans to relocate to Duke's Road, but will consider keeping its Evan Roads outlet if conditions improve and the rent does not go up.

"It's very dead here now," she said, adding that business has fallen by 20 per cent since August. "This place isn't that accessible, so customers come all the way here and are greeted by clogged-up toilets and dirty surroundings. It's embarrassing."

She said there was no certainty for tenants. "We don't even know if the new master tenant will keep us, and rent might go up. It's just too much of a gamble."

Mr Sean Lee, 27, director of Wildfire Kitchen and Bar, which opened there in February, said: "It's frustrating. We're a new arrival and invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate this space.

"The public toilets are in terrible condition. There are broken drain covers around and it's dangerous... things also fall into the drains, clogging them up," he said. "And all this time we are still paying rent."

The company, he said, has written to the SLA several times about the matter.

Pegasus International Preschool faces the same issues. The childcare centre's vice-principal, Ms Nor Huda, said: "I hope something will be done soon."

The SLA put the plot up for re-tender on Nov 30, for an initial term of three years, renewable up till 2021. The new tenancy agreement will start on April 1 and tenants will be allowed to remain till March 31. The successful tenderer must also allow the childcare centre to stay till June 30. Thereafter, it is up to the new master tenant to decide if it wants to keep current tenants.

An SLA spokesman said its managing agent had taken over the management of the plot to "ensure continuity of all operations and maintenance of the State property".

"We are aware of feedback that there are maintenance issues on the ground and are working with our managing agent to address them," she said.

When The Sunday Times visited the site last week, it saw a wire hanging off a wall on the building's facade. Broken tiles littered the sidewalk, makeshift drain covers were upturned, and the carpark gantry remained broken.

Ms Belinda Lim, co-owner of The Wine Company, does not regret her decision to leave Evans Road in October. "Enough was enough," she said.

But one of the directors of Mr Prata, Mr Chandra Sehkar, is not bothered. His outlet is the only one there with its own toilet.

"No customer has complained to me," he said.

Said Mr Roger Lim, 47, who often dines at the Evans Road hang-out, "It has its charm. But frankly, the place is run down."

"I don't pay that much attention to it because I'm there for coffee or prata," added Mr Lim, who runs a design company.

"But it certainly could do with cleaner toilets."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 06, 2015, with the headline 'Tenants upset over Evans Rd shambles'. Print Edition | Subscribe