Golden Mile, People’s Park buildings join collective sale fever

The fate of People’s Park Complex and People’s Park Centre in Chinatown, as well as Golden Mile Complex and Golden Mile Tower in Beach Road, hangs in the balance with the collective sale fever sweeping the country.

These structures are mostly half-way into their 99-year leases.

A committee was formed for the collective sale of People’s Park Complex on Monday at an extraordinary general meeting following “unanimous consensus”.

The Straits Times understands that People’s Park Centre has also formed a collective sale committee and will be appointing a real estate firm soon. A committee spokesman said about half the owners attended the last meeting, and 90 per cent of them were in favour of the sale.

Meanwhile, Golden Mile Complex, which has already formed its collective sale committee, held its last meeting on Feb 7. The agenda included appointing a valuer for existing units.

The neighbouring Golden Mile Tower, designed by architect Goh Hock Guan and his team, is also in the process of forming a collective sale committee, and is due to hold an extraordinary general meeting today.

Of the four, People’s Park Complex, Golden Mile Complex and Golden Mile Tower are widely recognised by experts as architecturally and historically significant. The trio were inspired by the Brutalist architecture movement which features monumental structures with an appearance of strength and solidity.

They also represent a chapter in Singapore’s post-independence architectural history and were completed as part of the Government’s Land Sales Programme beginning in 1967. Mr Randy Chan, principal of architecture firm Zarch Collaboratives, said: “We were building mega structures like these fresh out of independence.”

The moves follow news last month that Pearl Bank Apartments near Outram Park MRT station had been sold to CapitaLand in a $782 million collective sale. Launched in 1976, it will likely be torn down.

Unit owners at People’s Park Complex told ST that they are eager to sell the property “if the price is right”. The owner of Golden Watch Gold and Jewellery, who wanted to be known only as Mr Kea, 75, said: “Just like an ageing person, an old building will have its issues. As long as the selling price is reasonable, it can move undecided owners.”

However, second-generation co-owner of Hang Lung Jewellery, Mr Henry Ho, 47, said his family is not interested in selling their shop. He noted that business is thriving on the ground level, which might mean that owners like him would be reluctant to give up the space.

The firm behind People’s Park Complex, which was completed in 1973, was Design Partnership, or DP Architects. The team comprised pioneer architects William Lim, Koh Seow Chuan and Tay Kheng Soon.

Occupying 1ha, it was once the largest shopping complex in Singapore. It also featured the country’s first atrium shopping centre for users to socialise, eat and shop.

This design was widely replicated in later local and regional retail developments. Dr Yeo Kang Shua, an architectural historian and conservator, noted that People’s Park “conceptually contributed to the development of architecture, hence its place in history”.

DP Architects also designed Golden Mile Complex. The team comprised Mr Lim, Mr Tay and Mr Gan Eng Oon. Mr Tay, 77, noted that it could be a challenge to sell both complexes en bloc as they are mixed-use developments with stakeholders who have varied interests.

Owners of ageing properties generally try to sell their units before leases are further shortened. Some said they fear having to pay for additional maintenance costs. But experts have called for a relook at how post-independence structures can be conserved practically while incentivising developers.

Adapted from: The Straits Times, 8 March 2018