Arts cluster Gillman Barracks set for another transformation

by Albert02

Arts cluster Gillman Barracks set for another transformation

Arts cluster Gillman Barracks set for another transformation. The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) plans to transform the quiet but beloved arts district of Gillman Barracks, promising a broader lifestyle mix of dining, leisure, and arts offerings to all visitors.

SLA made the announcement on Tuesday (May 24), at the same time as five tenders for F&B and lifestyle uses were released. It expects potential tenants to come up with creative ideas such as farmers’ markets, farm-to-table dining, bookshop-cafés, dining-cum-pottery classes, and wine-and-painting parties.

SLA intends to spend S$2 million to improve the precinct’s infrastructure, including the construction of more covered walkways and a new children’s playground. “SLA is constantly reviewing the timely introduction of innovative ways to unlock the potential of our State Properties and value-add to the economy and community,” said SLA CEO Colin Low.

All five tenders will be evaluated based on both price (40%) and quality (40%). (60 per cent). “We want proposals that can contribute to the vibrancy of the precinct… and also demonstrate a commitment to sustainability,” Low said.

Tenders for the five blocks will be open for 8 weeks beginning Tuesday; interested parties can visit SLA’s one-stop property portal State Property Online Information.

The former military barracks-turned-arts-enclave now houses a number of art galleries and restaurants, some of which have been open since the site’s grand opening in 2012. Several galleries have closed their doors over the years, citing low foot traffic and poor business.

Other galleries, on the other hand, have survived — and even thrived — indicating that there are other factors to consider aside from location. Mizuma, Ota, and Sundaram Tagore galleries have been present in Gillman Barracks since its inception, while newer entrants like Yavuz and Richard Koh have reported generally healthy sales.

Similarly, F&B establishments have had a mixed bag of luck. While some have closed, others, such as Naked Finn and Burger Labo, have thrived, attracting foodies from all over the island and the region.

“We’ve been here since the beginning because we like this space,” said Jodi Tan, gallery manager of Ota Fine Arts. We’ve seen slow and gradual improvements to this location over the years, such as covered walkways and toilets. Efforts by the National Arts Council, such as more frequent social media posts, appear to be effective in attracting the public… We are hopeful that the latest round of transformations will benefit us.”

Gillman Barracks was built on a 6.6-hectare site surrounded by lush greenery in 1936. It’s right next to the Alexandra Garden Trail, which connects Hort Park, Labrador Park, and the Southern Ridges.

Gillman Barracks was previously managed by the National Arts Council, the Economic Development Board, and JTC Corp. SLA took over management in March 2020, but due to Covid-19, it was unable to implement its revitalization plans for the precinct. SLA now believes the time has come to reimagine the 17 colonial state properties as a lifestyle hub “similar to Dempsey,” according to Low.

The majority of the current tenants’ leases will expire early next year.

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