New building, new problems

Plan for hotel draws ire of some members

A TOWN club set amid the lush landscape of Fort Canning Park will be turned into a luxury boutique hotel as part of a multi-million dollar revamp – but some club members are unhappy about the change.

Mr John Nguyen, a member of The Legends Fort Canning Park, said: “We will lose the feeling of being in a spacious, colonial setting. We will lose the ambience and charm of the place.”

The building was built by the British in 1926 and housed the British Far East Command Centre during World War II.

Under the $70-million renovation plan, the club building will be converted into a boutique hotel, while the club itself will be housed in a three-storey glass building constructed on the space that the present tennis court currently occupies.

Mr Nguyen added: “If the hotel is built here, we (club members) will become second-class citizens.”

The 37-year-old was “quite upset” – enough to set up a blog about the renovations after attending a members’ briefing session on Monday.

“I set up the blog after the meeting because I wanted to get members of the club together and use it as a forum of discussion to see how other people felt and for the management to see it,” said Mr Nguyen.

Some members were also unhappy about the suddenness of the announcement. Mr Ken Low, director of a trading company, said: “We are not happy to be rushed into a deal that they planned – a lot of things are hanging in the air and we want to know more about our rights as members.”

Ms Amy Cheong, director of marketing of The Legends Fort Canning Park, said the club knows about Mr Nguyen’s blog and is replying to its members’ queries and is considering their comments.

Ms Cheong said the club had to revamp its business model because it is making losses. “The club was built for 10,000 members but right now we only have 1,200. There is not enough economic use of the space.”

When asked about the short notice given to club members, she said: “Since January, we have informed members in our bi-monthly newsletter that there will be renovations to the club, although no details were given.”

For now, Mr Nguyen hopes to get enough support from the club members to have a conference “to decide what we want, like maybe a petition and have a dialogue with the management”.

Source : Today – 9 Oct 2008

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