Hub at Serangoon Gardens may get new lease of life

File photo of the Lifestyle Hub @ Burghley

The Lifestyle Hub @ Burghley did not look like it was going to have much of a life last September.

The Serangoon Gardens project was barely two years old and had already been through power cuts, sewerage problems, a leaky roof and even termite infestations.

Its nine tenants - which include cafes, kids' activity centres and art workshops - were then faced with the possibility of an early exit, with the master tenant's lease due to expire this July. Now, it looks like they are going to be given a chance to thrive.

They appealed to master tenant Hean Nerng Facilities Management for an extension. In turn, it wrote to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), which released the site in Burghley Drive for expression of interest last September.

When the tender closed last Tuesday, there had been five bids for the master tenancy, including one from LHN Group, Hean Nerng's parent company. Without a new lease, the tenants would have to move out of the hub.

However, it is expected to be granted a new three-year tenure in May, with the option of a three-year extension. The SLA confirmed that the hub will continue in the interim, "pending long-term development plans for the site".

Tenants breathed a sigh of relief, but they are not expecting the ride to get any easier. The hub was built as a "buffer" between residential homes and a dormitory for foreign workers - which attracted a 2008 petition signed by 1,400 residents who did not want it there.

A 2m-high fence separates the two. Building up business has been hard. Co-owner of Dance Pointe Education group, Mr Lance Tang, 34, hopes the next master tenant will do more to market the place because of its secluded location - a 20-minute walk from Serangoon Gardens Circus.

"Six years is not going to be a short time," he said. "Hopefully, more can be done to make this place more attractive."

Executive director of Sky Fitness, Mr Raj Thurairajasingam, 32, is relieved he can continue to run his private gym there, as nearby residents make up most of his regulars. He added: "It's not easy to find another place where we can put all our gym equipment."

Owner of My Art Studio, Mr William Lee, 42, is considering looking for another location with cheaper rental. "Our business has stagnated over the years and we're considering moving to another place that's more accessible," he said.

"We've developed an attachment to our customers here, though sadly, a business cannot be based on that."

Resident Ani M.D. said he likes having a gym near his home.

The 26-year-old accountant said: "It's too inconvenient for me to go elsewhere."

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