Zouk gets more time to move to new location

Zouk owner Lincoln Cheng said he was ready to spend $20 million to $30 million on his new site at the Singapore Flyer if he gets it.

The owner of Zouk said he is prepared to spend $20 million to $30 million to build a new site for his iconic club at the Singapore Flyer, after being given more time to work out the move yesterday.

Mr Lincoln Cheng was given a one-year extension on Zouk's lease in Jiak Kim Street when it expires at the end of the year. If he is able to secure a new location by June 30 next year, the lease will be extended until the end of 2017.

This "will give Zouk sufficient time to undertake renovations or... construct a new structure... at the new site, and (to) relocate," said the Singapore Land Authority, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in a statement.

They made it clear no further extensions will be given, adding that yesterday's decision gives residents who are concerned with the noise and littering caused by drunk clubbers, a set deadline for the club to move. In the meantime, the agencies will work with Zouk to minimise problems.

The deal was not exactly what Mr Cheng - who invested $10 million in 1991 to turn the conserved warehouse next to Singapore River into the renowned nightspot - had asked for, he said.

But he was happy he could stay for another three years if he can find a new home for Zouk.

The 67-year-old entrepreneur had started his search as early as 2010, looking at venues in Sentosa, the Old Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and Old Kallang Airport.

"I have already explored the whole of Singapore," he said, adding that he has his sights set on the Singapore Flyer.

But the future of the $240 million ferris wheel is still hanging in the balance. Last May, the company behind the now six-year-old attraction was placed under receivership and the site put up for sale.

Sources told The Straits Times last month that a local company in the tourism trade has emerged as the front runner to buy the Singapore Flyer.

Said Mr Cheng: "Once they announce who the winning bidder is, I am sure STB will put us together."

And if things do not work out, Mr Cheng said he will then re-consider the Old Kallang Airport site offered by URA and STB earlier, although that could be a "big risk".

"We don't know the Masterplan for the area and URA has said that nothing has been fixed yet," said Mr Cheng.

He could also end up shutting his club by the end of next year or selling it. Last year, financial audit firm Ernst & Young valued the home-grown brand and its business at $40 million.

Fashion director Daniel Boey, 49, who has partied at Zouk since it opened, said he was confident Zouk will bring life to the Old Kallang Airport site, just like how it "single-handedly raised the value of real estate" in Jiak Kim Street.

Meanwhile, some residents of the condominiums near Zouk said they will continue to bear with the noise and litter.

Housewife Florence Lim, 45, said: "We have already put up with the problem for so long. Three more years won't make any difference. I think the authorities should just ban the consumption of alcohol in public."

This article was first published on August 22, 2014.
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