The Concourse Shopping Mall: Angry over mall’s status

The notice to vacate is legitimate, but several tenants at The Concourse Shopping Mall are up in arms over the notice that was served on them ordering them to move out of their shops within six months to make way apartments.

Several of the shop owners are seeking legal advice to support their demands for compensation from mall operator, Hong Fok Land, over what they claim was a misrepresentation of the mall’s status.

Some, such as bar owner Ana Ng, recently spent thousands of dollars on renovation works after signing a new two-year lease agreement — only to be told she would have to vacate her premises by next February.

Ms Ng, who owns the Gd. Daay bar on the first floor of the mall, said: “If I knew, I would not have spent so much on the renovation.”

After signing the lease agreement last December, she spent about $50,000 to do up her shop.

Diving shop owner John Lee spent about $10,000 in April to do up his premises.

A frustrated Mr Lee said: “I signed a lease and three months later, they gave us a letter to say they are redeveloping the place.”

“The tenancy agreement is lopsided. I hope the authorities can look into such matter in the interests of promoting entrepreneurship.”

But their expenses pale in comparison to the $600,000 that Ms Kim Hyo Kyeong spent to renovate O Dae Yang Korean Seafood Restaurant and Family KTV Lounge.

After a futile meeting with a Hong Fok Land representative on Wednesday, Ms Kim decided to join Ms Ng and Mr Lee to explore legal means to secure compensation.

The three intend to get more tenants to join them.

The retailers’ woes started last month when they received a letter from their landlord, informing them of the need to move out.

In its reply to Today, the company said it had gotten provisional permission in June from the Urban Redevelopment Authority to develop 369 units of residential flats with communal facilities at the area.

It added that the project is in its planning stage, with sales and construction dates to be decided when other approvals are given.

On the notice to vacate, the company said: “Our tenancy agreement for the retail tenants has a six-months’-notice clause to terminate leases in the event of development, alteration and additional works to the building without compensation.”

It also stressed that it has given tenants more than six months to look for alternative premises.

Located at Beach Road, The Concourse Shopping Mall is home to some 70 shops, including restaurants, florists, pharmacists, as well as hair and beauty salons.

But not all shop owners think the move is unreasonable.

At least one tenant pointed out that the six-month notice to vacate was fair, while another revealed that he had secured a site at The Plaza Shopping Centre next door.

Property analyst Nicholas Mak, director of research and consultancy at Knight Frank, added: “When a landlord and a tenant enter into a rental agreement, they should do so with their eyes open.

“When the terms of the agreement become unfavourable later, they should not run to the Government and request for help.”

A market observer said the redevelopment project at The Concourse would change Beach Road’s landscape over the next five years.

Source : Today – 10 Aug 2007

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