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About turn on shopping complex leaves tenants stuck

Shop owners at Tanjong Katong Complex are upset that the building's lease has been extended for another 10 years, after being told in 2008 that the complex will be demolished. -BH
Norhaiza Hashim

Wed, May 22, 2013
Berita Harian

SINGAPORE - The decision many shop owners made to leave Tanjong Katong Complex (TKC) as the shopping centre will be demolished turned out to be a mistake.

After a few years of deliberation, the government has decided to extend the lease for the complex, located at the junction of Paya Lebar Road and Geylang Road, by another 10 years.

The shop owners are now trapped as they have already committed to new leases in other locations.

Voicing their disappointment, they were frustrated by the sudden about-turn, especially because they still 'love' TKC and do not want to leave.

The government announced in 2008 that the complex will be demolished to give way to a new development, with its lease term expiring at the end of last year.

However, Singapore Land Authority (SLA) - who manages Tanjong Katong Complex - announced in 2011 that the lease will be extended for another 10 years, causing many business owners to be stuck.

Mr Rasyid Hussein, owner of travel bureau Murad Travels, has had his shop on the first floor of TKC for two decades. He said, "When we found out this complex was about to be demolished, we quickly found a new shop. I moved to a new place in Onan Road and spent a tidy sum to renovate the new shop.

"So when I got the news that the lease has been extended for another 10 years, I was really disappointed.

"If I had known, I wouldn't have moved out. I have been here for 20 years. My customers are already familiar with Murad Travels of Tanjong Katong Complex."

Household goods shop Brass & Metal Furniture Pte Ltd, one of the complex's old tenants, is also affected by the changes in the lease.

Owner Ms Noraini Abdul Rahman said her business has dropped since moving to a new place.

"Sales fell 60 per cent since moving to our new premises in Chai Chee Lane. Customers know that we are located at TKC. When we moved, they thought that we have closed shop for good," muttered Ms Noraini. Now she depends on regular customers and does more aggressive promotions through her website.

Ms Noraini has done business in Tanjong Katong Complex for 27 years. She moved from the complex at the end of 2011.

Mr Hamzah Abdullah, Managing Director of MegaXpress, is another business owner who is affected. He is among the first to move out from TKC.

"When I got the letter stating we had only two months left on the lease, I quickly moved to a new office in Kaki Bukit," he said.

"I still remember that this was during fasting month in 2011. After Ramadhan, we found boxes and had to move hurriedly.

"After we moved to a new place, I found out the lease for TKC was continued. What can we do? We won't move back to TKC even though there is space. It's not easy to move," said Mr Hamzah. Before moving to the new premises, he had rented the office on the fourth floor of TKC for six years because of its strategic location and the community spirit as well as its attraction to Muslim shoppers.

Owner of Fotohi Carpet Gallery, Mr Reza Fotohi, obtained a new shop in Guthrie Building to prepare for the time when TKC will be demolished, but he is lucky as he has not given up his shop in TKC.

"When I found out that the lease will end, I did not hesitate to find a new location because I needed a new place to put other carpets. If I had know the lease term will be extended, I would not get a new place in Guthrie.

"Several months before the expiry of the lease period of Tanjong Katong Complex on Dec 31 last year, we were told that the lease is extended for another 10 years. I am very happy because I am comfortable with TKC. But, I can't let go of the new space anyway because I have committed."

Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced in 2008 that Tanjong Katong Complex will be demolished to make way for the development of Paya Lebar Central commercial hub, which included Wisma Geylang Serai civic centre.

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