Wanted: Ideas for new use of 6 sites going up for tender

Shophouses at 45 Sultan Gate before and after restoration, the first state properties to be launched for tender.
Shophouses at 45 Sultan Gate before and after restoration, the first state properties to be launched for tender.PHOTOS: SLA

Public encouraged to join forces and test business concepts in SLA, URA programme

If you have ever had a burning ambition to transform a fire station, now is your chance.

The old Bukit Timah fire station is one of six sites around town - comprising existing state-owned buildings and state land - that are going up for tender, with bidders encouraged to propose innovative ideas for alternative use of the sites.

The tenders are offered under a programme called Reinventing Spaces into Vibrant Places, launched yesterday by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

The agencies hope members of the public, including business owners, architects and designers, will join forces and test business concepts in the selected spaces.

The first property up for tender comprises two shophouses that the SLA restored and converted into one unit, at 45 Sultan Gate in the Kampong Glam Historic District.

The remaining sites - the old Bukit Timah fire station; 30 Maxwell Road; 15-31 Hindoo Road; the old Kallang Airport in Stadium Link; and plots in Marina Bay - will go up for tender progressively.

Three-year leases will be granted, with renewals for up to two terms.

"As the custodian of state land and properties, SLA strives to optimise available sites in creative ways," said Ms Yap Eai-Sy, director of business planning and development at the SLA.

"Many state properties, such as the old Kallang Airport and the old Bukit Timah fire station, are iconic and have a long and rich history. We see opportunities for these sites to be creatively adapted for different uses that can complement and meet the needs of the community."

The proposals will be evaluated based on their ability to "reinforce and complement the unique charm and character of the area, and enhance visitor experience through suitable and innovative programming", said the agencies.

Other sites across the island that might be viable for the scheme - such as shophouse units, standalone buildings, utility infrastructure and public spaces - will be identified for future tenders.

Ms Chou Mei, group director of conservation and urban design at the URA, said: "A city is more than the sum of its buildings and infrastructure - it is a place where people live, work and hang out with friends and family. We hope the programme will help to create endearing and lovable places that everyone will enjoy."

The bids for 45 Sultan Gate will be assessed with equal weighting on price and quality of concept to ensure "a robust assessment" of the tenderers' financial standing and that the chosen proposal is compatible with the rest of the precinct.

The agencies did not say if this weighting will apply to the other five sites.

Mr Saeid Labbafi, chairman of the area's business association, hopes the future tenant of 45 Sultan Gate will add to Kampong Glam's vibrancy. "I believe the focus of the business of this unit should be on giving back to the community and keeping the history of Kampong Glam alive for the younger generations."

CREATIVE OPPORTUNITIES

Many state properties, such as the old Kallang Airport and the old Bukit Timah fire station, are iconic and have a long and rich history. We see opportunities for these sites to be creatively adapted for different uses that can complement and meet the needs of the community.

MS YAP EAI-SY, director of business planning and development at the Singapore Land Authority.

Heritage conservation expert Johannes Widodo said Kampong Glam holds a significant place in Singapore's history, with many notable features such as a royal palace, as well as a cosmopolitan marketplace and settlement.

He added that while the new projects have to be economically viable, they should also attempt to reconnect these attributes from the past with the future and to make them relevant to the contemporary and future generations. "A city should keep the memories of a place from the past and carry those memories forward into the future through good management of change."

The tender for 45 Sultan Gate closes on July 23 at 11am. The SLA and URA websites have more information.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 15, 2019, with the headline 'Wanted: Ideas for new use of 6 sites going up for tender'. Print Edition | Subscribe