An executive condominium that was due to hold its first annual general meeting (AGM) at a country club will now meet at a more modest community club instead - following pressure from residents and community leaders to cut unnecessary cost.
One Canberra's AGM is now set for June 24, after the executive condo's appointed managing agent, Realty International Associates (RIA), agreed to postpone the meeting by a week so that it can be held at Chong Pang Community Club.
On Sunday, Nee Soon GRC MP K. Shanmugam wrote on his Facebook page that the residents had raised concerns over the AGM's cost. "The managing agent and developer were planning to spend $19,000 for a ballroom," he said.
Mr Shanmugam, the Law and Home Affairs Minister, said the Canberra Drive Neighbourhood Committee had approached Chong Pang Community Club, which made its premises available for free on June 24.
According to the People's Association, it usually costs about $1,500 on average to book a multi-purpose hall at a community centre for a day.
Mr Shanmugam also shared a letter to the managing agent, dated last Saturday, in which he wrote: "You have a duty to make sure that the residents' money is properly spent."
Said RIA senior vice-president Jackson Ong yesterday: "We are most happy to hold it at the CC. We value Mr Shanmugam's feedback."
Cost of holding AGM at Orchid Country Club, of which $8,000 would be put up by One Canberra's developer MCC Land (Singapore), according to RIA
Cost of holding AGM at Chong Pang Community Club (covers food, logistics, cleaning fees). Rental - $1,500 on average - has been waived.
The meeting, where a management council of residents will be elected, is now set to cost about $8,000 - which covers food, logistics and cleaning fees. Such AGMs typically attract about 400 people - too many to house in the executive condo's clubhouse. One Canberra received its Temporary Occupation Permit in September 2015.
Mr Ong said that while RIA was going to opt for the meeting to be held at Orchid Country Club, the bill was around $15,600. He added that One Canberra's developer, MCC Land (Singapore), would have put up about $8,000 towards the cost.
Country club 'an unusual choice'
But even considering a country club is an unusual choice, said industry players.
One resident, a 38-year-old in the real estate industry, said: "The venue was not as shocking as it was concerning, because it's not the managing agent's money - it's our money, at the end of the day."
He added that residents were not told about the developer's offer to bear part of the cost.
Abacus Property Management executive director Royston Chong said: "Our standard practice is to get at least three quotations for the developer to choose from... If there is a CC, definitely we will take the CC."
Others said AGMs tend to be held in the estate or at an affordable public venue.
Knight Frank Property Asset Management's strata management managing director Eleana Teo said: "Some factors taken into consideration... include the date, time, venue and if simple refreshments will be served."
Mr Desmond Tan, managing director of SunProp Property and Asset Management Consultants, said: "Most of the management corporations that we worked with tapped neighbouring community facilities, such as schools or community centres, as alternative AGM venues before considering more expensive venues."