SINGAPORE - Iconic club Zouk's future has been secured in the short term.
The authorities confirmed on Thursday that they will give Zouk a one-year extension on its lease at Jiak Kim Street when it expires at the end of the year. If Zouk is able to secure a new location by June 30, 2015, the authorities will extend its lease further until the end of 2017 to facilitate the move.
"An extension up to 2017 will give Zouk sufficient time to undertake renovations or to plan and construct a new structure to house the club at the new site, and relocate thereafter," a joint statement from Singapore Land Authority (SLA), Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said.
In an earlier interview with The Straits Times, Zouk's founder Lincoln Cheng, 67, had said that he is tired of getting short lease extensions for his club and he would be closing the 23-year-old club for good by the end of the year if he did not get a three-year extension, which he has requested from the authorities. An online campaign to "save Zouk" was launched in June and garnered close to 40,000 votes in two months.
In the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) latest Master Plan, which governs Singapore's development over the next 10 to 15 years, Zouk's premises are within a larger site zoned for residential use, with commercial activity on the first floor. Even though the site has not yet been listed for sale under the Government Land Sales Programme, the areas surrounding Zouk has become "an established residential precinct" and "Zouk's operation is not compatible with the area", said URA. Residents in the area have also complained and blamed the club's patrons for littering and noise pollution in the area.
"In arriving at the decision to grant the conditional extension, SLA, STB and URA considered the concerns of and impact faced by neighbouring residents living in the predominantly residential area, as well as Zouk's contribution to the strengthening of Singapore's reputation in the international entertainment scene," the joint statement added. "The decision aims to strike a balance between giving Zouk the time it requires to make alternative arrangements, while providing the residents certainty on the plans for the area by way of the final, conditional extension at Jiak Kim Street. In the meantime, the relevant agencies will continue to work with Zouk to minimise any inconveniences and social disamenities in the area."
Mr Cheng said he had started his search for a new home for Zouk as early as 2010 and has explored venues in Sentosa, the Old Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, Old Kallang Airport and the Singapore Flyer.