Lacklustre response to CBD building light-up scheme

The Government's cash scheme to light up some Central Business District and Marina Centre buildings has had few takers, even as the authorities scrapped a parallel scheme that may have been more popular.

There have been only three approved applicants for the cash grant since it was introduced in 2006 by the Urban Redevelopment Authority to encourage building owners in the Marina Bay area to light up their properties' fronts to make Singapore's skyline more attractive.

Of the three, only one - Maybank Tower - received money. It got the maximum, one-time $500,000 allowance out of this $10 million fund.

A report in Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao yesterday said the URA declined to reveal the other two applicants, but said they had decided to rethink their lighting plans.

In May, the URA sent out a circular to inform architects, lighting designers and building owners and developers that the cash grant scheme had been extended to 2015.

It noted that "although a large number of developments within the CBD are already lit, there are still a few existing buildings fronting Marina Bay that are poorly lit and could benefit from some additional night lighting".

URA declined to name those buildings, but Zaobao said they are likely to be older buildings that have not undergone redevelopment since the grant was introduced.

While URA has extended the cash grant scheme, it has scrapped another grant scheme that gave developers and building owners more gross floor area (GFA) in exchange for providing night lighting.

It said it got feedback that this scheme had led to the over-lighting of some buildings in the CBD. It had approved 12 applications under this scheme.

The Singapore Institute of Architects' president Theodore Chan supports the idea of lighting up the area, but said the cash grant may not be enough to persuade people. "Lighting projects are quite costly and can come up to $1 million, $2 million or more. I suspect half a million is insufficient."

He added that more people would have applied for the GFA scheme since additional space could lead to more and recurring rental profits.

The cash grant is available only for existing buildings that either front Marina Bay or form part of the city skyline as seen from the bay. A building located away from the waterfront may be considered if it has significant parts that can be seen from Marina Bay.

The night lighting must be a permanent installation used to light up the exterior of the building to highlight the design of the development, in particular, the crown, facades, main architectural features, sky gardens and public spaces at the first storey.

Building owners who receive the money must also turn on their lighting during national events and festivals, according to the URA's requirements.

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