A bid to put the iconic Queensway Shopping Centre on the market has fallen through after a lukewarm response from owners — much to the relief of some shopkeepers.
Savills Singapore, the marketing agent of the 43-year-old freehold development, confirmed on Tuesday (Nov 26) that the proposed en-bloc sale is off the table. The adjoining Queensway Tower, a residential block, was also part of the proposal.
Ms Suzie Mok, Savills’ senior director of investment projects, told TODAY that the collective sales committee had failed to achieve the 80 per cent consent from owners that is required under Singapore law to mount an en-bloc sale.
“We have more than 20 per cent by share value who were unsupportive, primarily shop owners. Hence, the minimum mandate of 80 per cent consent from strata value and share value is unlikely to be attained,” she said.
“The collective sale committee felt that it was not viable to carry on, even though there were owners who were supportive and willing to sign the agreement.”
Ms Mok previously said the property could have been worth more than S$500 million.
The committee, formed last year, had 12 months from the first signature in April to attain the votes needed to launch the public tender for sale.
The two properties in the en-bloc attempt comprised 241 retail units and 78 residential apartments. The mall is well-known for its sporting apparel and equipment shops.
When pressed on the proportion of owners who opposed the en-bloc sale, Ms Mok said that it exceeded 20 per cent, but could not provide the exact figure.
She added that a letter was sent to tenants in October telling them that the bid to mount a collective sale had ended.
Among the 10 shopkeepers TODAY interviewed at Queensway Shopping Centre on Tuesday, eight said they opposed the en-bloc plans. The other two were on the fence. Most are tenants rather than owners.
Mr Bryan Wong, 49, who runs N-Zone Sports, has been operating his business in the mall for over 20 years.
He said: “Queensway is a place where I grew up in, or will grow old in… I don’t think there are any more malls with the same environment or concept. If I were to go to another place, it’ll be totally different because this is an iconic spot.
“If this place is demolished, there won’t be a second Queensway.”
Mr George Yeo, 57, and his wife Ms Alison Lee, 52, owners of Yak Mee Trading, were relieved when the en-bloc sale fell through. Photo: Kimberly Lim
Ms Alison Lee, co-owner of Yak Mee Trading, a clothing store which was passed down from her father-in-law, was relieved when she found out that the en-bloc bid had been unsuccessful.
She said: “We were very happy (when we found out). All my customers also felt very happy. I informed my father-in-law about the good news as he did not want an en bloc to happen as well.
“If we can run our store here forever, then we would.”
Mr Lim Jin Fu, the sales manager of Salam and Sons, a sporting store on the ground level, also said that he was relieved at the news.
He said: “We informed our regular customers about it because we had a lot of regulars coming in and asking us when were shifting out. There was a lot of concern when the news about the en bloc broke, a lot of people came down and asked us about this.”
However, some business owners were on the fence.
Ms June Leong, 63, who has been operating her Shoe Classic shop for about 30 years, has noticed a decline in business. Photo: Kimberly Lim
Ms June Leong, 63, the owner of Shoe Classic, has been operating her business for around 30 years, and she told TODAY that business has declined in recent years.
She said: “Business has been dropping by almost 40 per cent since last year. During Deepavali this year, for the first time in 30 years, I did not manage to sell even one pair of shoes.”
But she said that she would still like to continue her business as a way to “pass time”.
Ms Marilyn Tan, 42, the owner of 98 Designs Embroidery Services, said that footfall has dipped over the years.
“A lot of the owners have aged and want to sell the unit so that they have some money for their retirement,” she said.
“The building is really not doing very well and so if they can tear it down, it might be good.”
Nevertheless, she believes that the mall is a landmark.
She said: “When you think of sports apparel, you think of this place. Being an old mall, the rent is affordable for people, like me, who are doing production. I don’t need an expensive storefront so this place gave me opportunities to continue my business.”
Although shop owners are glad that the en-bloc sale attempt was unsuccessful, some still worry for the future of their businesses.
Mr Wong of N Zone Sports said: “I would like to stay here but things are going to change in the next five or 10 years. Will the younger generation still cherish places like these? Nowadays, people are going online.”