Thursday, May 27, 2010

Jalan Kayu businesses facing closure

Despite 2 years of notice, tenants say it's hard to relocate

SEVERAL businesses at Jalan Kayu are caught in a bind, partly of their own making: Their leases are due to expire at the end of the year, and they are having poor luck looking for new sites.

The 18 tenants at Seletar West Farmway 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 - 16 plant nurseries, a kindergarten and a halfway house - were told as early as two years ago that they would have to go.

But they could relocate to only Government-approved locations, and most have had a hard time finding alternative sites.

The Straits Times understands that only two have managed to set up shop elsewhere. The others are still looking, but most say they are resigned to closing down if their searches prove futile.

The 20ha plot - roughly the size of 13 football fields - has been slated for new roads and industrial development.

When contacted, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) said it had given the tenants ample notice. It added that tenants have been told several times to move. But the affected businesses countered that they have tried, but have been unsuccessful in their searches for new locations.

The nurseries, especially, said their businesses require large tracts of land of more than a hectare in size. The tenants also said cost was another factor. The going rates for sites up for tender were much more costly - about 20 times higher, they said.

'We need space and approved land. This makes it really difficult to find a new location,' said Mr Patrick Tan, who manages a 1.2ha nursery owned by Far East Orchids. 'I am searching like crazy, but there is nowhere to go.'

The 48-year-old currently pays $2,000 a month in rent. He said he had considered a 3ha plot of land in Queenstown that the Government put up for tender recently. 'But after calculations, I realised there was no way I could afford the $35,000 rental per month,' he said, adding that he is unsure of his next move.

The owner of Yee Peng Orchid Nursery Ho Wai Ron, 50, has decided what to do: He will give up his 26-year-old business.

'Land is so scarce here and our leases keep expiring and we have to move again and again,' said Mr Ho, who said the company has moved four times so far. 'It is too disruptive.'

The SLA said it is working closely with other government agencies on the possibility of a further extension.

'But tenants are aware that they will have to move if this is not possible,' said its spokesman.

Source: Straits Times, 27 May 2010

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