Businesses support 5-year plan to revitalise Singapore River area

Most businesses along the Singapore River are backing plans to revitalise the area.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will appoint a business consultancy to kick-start a five-year plan to market the riverfront attractions.

Harry’s Holdings has nine bars and restaurants along the Singapore River, including stores at Esplanade, Marina Bay, Robertson Quay, Boat Quay and Clarke Quay.

The firm said that revenues have dipped over the years, as customers flocked to other lifestyle spots such as Dempsey Hill.

Hence, it said it is timely to look at rejuvenating the area.

Said Mohan Mulani, chief executive officer of Harry’s Holdings: “Maybe one large owner can put his or her effort together, a couple of owners can try to amalgamate the real estate and create a very beautiful boutique hotel… maybe you need a mix of tenants, maybe you need some retail.”

Observers say vibrant hotspots like Times Square in New York may provide inspiration.

However, getting things going may be an “up-hill task”.

“There would have to be an element of a leap of faith, there would be some initial seed funding spent on the branding, on putting in place the communication structure. I think we are talking about in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Industry watchers said that working together will help businesses along the river attract more visitors.

However, getting buy-in from stakeholders and landlords like City Developments and CapitaMalls Asia will not be easy.

Said Colin Tan, head of Research & Consultancy at Chesterton Suntec International: “You are trying to get competitors to work together and sometimes with this type of place management you may have to contribute to a common pool, what’s the contribution and how will it benefit, will it benefit everyone equally?”

CapitaMalls Asia (CMA) told MediaCorp that it supports the new initiative and will play its part in the continued rejuvenation of the Singapore River.

CMA, which manages Clarke Quay, said it has undertaken major asset enhancement works to the attraction between 2004 and 2006.

Going forward, it plans to restore its two tongkangs docked at the river, which can be used as venues for various events.

Analysts said that if successful, the business plan could help to drive up rentals at Boat Quay. On average, rentals range between S$10 and S$12 per square foot per month, about 20 per cent off the peak in the mid-90s.

Separately, the URA is spending S$10 million to make Waterloo and Queen Street more pedestrain-friendly to spur street events and performances.

The Orchard Road precinct could be improved as well.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said that a business consultancy could also come onboard to coordinate marketing efforts by year end.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 30 Apr 2010

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