Wanted: Creative lifestyle uses for 2 vacant buildings in Gillman Barracks to inject vibrancy to arts enclave

Block 9A, with a gross floor area of 342 sq m, will be put up for F&B and retail use. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Tenders calling for creative lifestyle uses for two vacant buildings in Gillman Barracks will be launched later this year in an effort to inject vibrancy to the arts enclave off Alexandra Road.

The first site is Block 43, with a gross floor area (GFA) of 1,167 sq m, where interested parties are invited to propose creative lifestyle concepts.

This could include, but are not limited to, art galleries, co-working spaces, sports and wellness, food and beverage ( F&B), and retail, said the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) on Monday (Aug 16).

A smaller site at Block 9A, with a GFA of 342 sq m, will be put up for F&B and retail use. It used to house F&B outlet Timbre @ Gillman and comes with a sheltered outdoor area.

"These tenders will support the introduction of innovative and new creative lifestyle concepts at Gillman Barracks that may drive constant traffic and footfall to the area," the SLA added.

A longer upfront tenure of five years, renewable for another three years, will be offered.

The tenders will be evaluated based on price and quality, with a higher weightage placed on the quality component to "allow for more holistic assessment of proposals", said the SLA.

As part of the SLA's push to make Gillman Barracks a sustainable and eco-friendly cluster, green infrastructure enhancements such as energy-efficient lighting and ventilation will be taken into consideration when assessing the quality component of the proposal.

Other green initiatives such as using biodegradable packaging and curating programmes and activities to support sustainability initiatives are encouraged.

The SLA, which took over the lease and estate management of the former military barracks-turned-arts enclave from JTC Corporation in March last year, is working with the National Arts Council on the programming of the enclave.

Gillman Barracks has a total of 17 blocks - including the two vacant sites - housing 11 art galleries and six F&B establishments.

On Monday, the SLA said the existing 11 art galleries will be offered a longer upfront tenure of five years, renewable for another three years when their current tenancies expire on Feb 28 next year.

The SLA will launch an expression of interest to determine if there is any market interest in the six sites currently occupied by F&B establishments, whose tenancies will also expire on Feb 28 next year.

Existing tenants will be given the option to renew their leases if there are no other interested bidders for the site, added the SLA.

A smaller site at Block 9A (left), with a gross floor area of about 324 sq m, will be put up for F&B and retail use. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SLA director of business planning development and leasing Yap Eai-Sy said the move is to support existing commercial gallery tenants while the new tenders are being launched.

"We hope that the introduction of new attractions at the two non-arts blocks will bring new visitors to Gillman Barracks to benefit the commercial gallery tenants," she said.

Last year, at least two commercial art galleries - Sullivan+ Strumpf and Chan + Hori Contemporary - moved out amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ms Mae Anderson, chairman of Art Outreach, said she intends to take up the tenure offer as the art education non-profit has built up a brand identity associated with Gillman Barracks since it moved into Block 47 nine years ago.

She also welcomed the move to inject new blood into the enclave.

"Art is a strong identity here, but having a diverse mix of creative lifestyle tenants may help cross-refer customers. I feel it's the ingredient that has been missing for a long time," she said.

Mr Tan Ken Loon, owner of seafood restaurant Naked Finn and burger restaurant BurgerLabo, both located in Gillman Barracks, said he will definitely renew his leases.

"We love the space because it's far away from the hustle and bustle. It doesn't make sense for us to uproot because we have a strong feeling for this area," he said.

"Personally, I think Gillman Barracks has been successful if we go by the engagement and education that have been done over the past nine years. I wouldn't use footfall as a measurement for an arts enclave," he said.

On the upcoming tenders, he said: "The new bidders cannot be doing retail for retail's sake or just to attract footfall to the area. There needs to be synergy between all the tenants here. The art galleries are the stars; we're just complementary businesses."

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