Three state properties to be converted into museums and galleries

For the first time, three state properties in central Singapore will be leased out to private collectors to display their artworks, and about a dozen collectors from Southeast Asia have shown interest in the premises.

The former Catholic High School – a four-storey building in Singapore’s central arts district along Queen Street – is getting a facelift, together with two other century-old army barracks at Loewen Road.

Rich private art collectors are expected to take over the spaces to display their Asian collection.

Michael Koh, CEO of the National Heritage Board, said: “We’ve had some feedback from some of these people in the private sector that they were interested in sharing their collection with the public or bringing their collection overseas and anchoring them in Singapore.”

Rent, priced between S$5,000 and S$40,000 a month, is capped at 20 per cent lower than market rates. The lease is for three years and is renewable for another six.

Teo Cher Hian, director, Land Operations Division, Singapore Land Authority, said: “What we’ve done in the past is we’ve called tenders for pure commercial uses. Of course, the commercial users are free to go and invite private collectors to showcase. But I think the motivation is slightly different (this time). The focus is on the collection, the heritage collection.”

Judging by the condition of the buildings, tenants will have a lot to do to spruce up the premises.

Ku Swee Yong, director of Savills, said: “The tenants would be willing to bear those costs if they have the artworks that are very high value – artworks of hundreds of thousands of dollars. In that case, you would need good quality refurbishment for fire protection, for moisture prevention, humidity control and temperature control.”

Up to 20 per cent of each property can also be used for commercial purposes such as restaurants or gift shops.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 15 Oct 2008

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