Two-thirds of units at Red House Project sold

SINGAPORE: Despite the slowing down of the private property market, more than two-thirds of the units at the Red House Project have been sold.

The Red House, which once housed a famous bakery, was an iconic landmark in the Katong District. Two years after the launch of the project, Warees Investments, the property arm of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS), on Thursday (Dec 10) said it is on track for completion by the second quarter of 2016.

“Construction for the development which includes the iconic Red House in Katong is currently at 90 per cent completion,” it added.

Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim also visited The Red House development site on Thursday to view its progress.

On how the development would enhance the heritage of the Joo Chiat and Katong area, Dr Yaacob said: “This is a conserved building. We are able to maintain the facade and as the architect explained, they work painstakingly to restore the frontage of the building which I think is very important.

“The Red House of course is another icon, so I think we have done our part to make sure that the heritage of Joo Chiat and Katong is maintained.”

The project is a new residential-retail-lifestyle heritage development by MUIS. In 1957, five adjacent shophouses at 63, 65, 67, 69 and 71 East Coast Road, and the Red House at 75 East Coast Road were declared as Wakaf (Islamic endowment) assets. This means that income arising from the property will go to charitable causes. The land that these properties sit on was under Sheriffa Zain Alsharoff, the great granddaughter of philanthropist Hajjah Fatimah.

The development consists of 42 residential units categorised into three classes – Lofts (4 units), Suites (10 units) and Residences (28 units). Each unit ranges from 441 ft to 1,206 ft, and cost more than S$1,400 per square foot on average.

To “relive the good days of Katong and preserve the character and heritage of the district”, Warees Investments said a bakery will reopen at the Red House building, and it is currently in talks with prospective tenants for the bakery as well as other retail spaces within the development.

“We hope to appoint a vendor to run the bakery in a way that endears not just to the community but to the wider Singaporean family, because it is an important icon here in Katong. We want the bakery to be that icon again in terms of its service and in terms of its products,” said Dr Yaacob.

Besides selling bread, the bakery will also have a gallery, as a tribute to the building’s heritage. The developer said it is looking at how it can allow the public to access the gallery round-the-clock.

“We are looking at it as not just a space, but we are looking at it is the elements that comes together into the interior design of the whole bakery. So you don’t really see there is a gallery which is in a confined space,” said Mr Zaini Osman, CEO of Warees Investments.

To spruce up the historical authenticity of the gallery, efforts have gone into acquiring artefacts from the old bakery, which operated from 1925 to 2003.

“So beyond the bakery, we are looking at ways where we can look for the artefacts of the past and see how it can be incorporated into the design of the bakery. So far, what we’ve done is that we have been searching for all those artefacts. At the same time, we’ve been doing research with the archives, we’ve worked with the URA conservation to look at ways we can bring this together. So far we have found some good artefacts. Hopefully this can be incorporated,” said Mr Zaini.

The five other retail shops in the adjacent shophouses cannot be F&B establishments, and have to complement the character of the Katong area.