Wave of ideas for a more lively Singapore River

The Singapore River area, which encompasses Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay, is Singapore's first Business Improvement District. Marketing efforts in the area include possible plans to permanently pedestrianise Circular Road.
The Singapore River area, which encompasses Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay, is Singapore's first Business Improvement District. Marketing efforts in the area include possible plans to permanently pedestrianise Circular Road.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

The Singapore River area has undergone a clean-up since a not-for-profit company sailed onto the scene five years ago.

Singapore River One (SRO), which was formed in 2012, has in recent years tackled issues ranging from touting and overcharging to an inadequately maintained waterfront. Visitor footfall has since improved.

Now, the Singapore River area, which encompasses Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay, is Singapore's first Business Improvement District (BID), after being officially formed in April - a move which will pump in government funding, encourage more stakeholder participation and do more to boost business.

Besides the annual Singapore River Festival, marketing efforts in the area include possible plans to permanently pedestrianise Circular Road. These are part of the four-year business plan submitted by SRO, which comprises stakeholders such as property owners and business operators in the area.

SRO chairman Wilson Tan said the BID model is more "sustainable" than what it had before, noting that without a formalised BID, "we would not able to find the financial means or have the staying power to go through all the activities we want to do".

Mr Tan, who is also deputy chief executive of CapitaLand Mall Asia, suggested that persuading stakeholders to jump on board could be a challenge initially. "We have diversity of people, but that strength also makes it more difficult for us as a whole group to come together. There is a need for us to explain why we put BID in place - that clarity is very important."

It is also important that the BID be self-sustaining, he said, adding that it is vital to find revenue streams in addition to the matching grant.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2017, with the headline 'Wave of ideas for a more lively Singapore River'. Print Edition | Subscribe