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RB Capital repositioning Robertson Quay assets
Gallery Hotel, The Quayside retail revamp to create 100,000 sq ft of prime retail space
By: Kalpana Rashiwala
[SINGAPORE] RB Capital is pumping about $50 million to $70 million in a major refurbishment of Gallery Hotel along Robertson Quay and the retail podium of The Quayside next door.
These plans are seen as bringing "energy and excitement" to an important location along the Singapore River.
The repositioning of the two assets will create a combined 100,000 sq ft of prime lettable retail space with as many as 80 food and beverage outlets under a scheme that seeks to maximise the two assets' combined river frontage of more than 200 metres.
The asset enhancement works at Gallery Hotel and The Quayside are expected to be completed in early 2016. Across Alkaff Bridge, RB Capital's recently completed 442-room Holiday Inn Express Clarke Quay, at the corner of Havelock Road and Clemenceau Avenue, is due to start trading soon. The total value of the group's three assets in the locale exceeds $1 billion.
"Robertson Quay's unique waterfront location, between Orchard Road and the CBD, provides RB Capital a rare opportunity to rejuvenate this stretch of the historic Singapore River into a vibrant lifestyle destination catering to both residents in the vicinity and tourists," said Kishin RK, CEO of RB Capital, in a recent interview with BT.
Besides spawning a community and creating a strong identity for the location, having a strong F&B component at Gallery Hotel and Quayside will also help define the hotel's repositioning, he added. "After all, what makes a true boutique hotel anywhere in the world is the environment around it."
SCDA has been appointed to handle the master plan as well as the architecture, landscape and interior design of the two assets.
RB Capital plans to shut Gallery Hotel in Q3 this year for the refurbishment works, which are slated for completion in early-2016. The 10-storey property will be stripped to floor slab and pillar and re-emerge as an "upscale boutique hotel - possibly with a bit of a hip factor", said Mr Kishin. The first three levels will be converted to 63,000 sq ft of retail space, primarily driven by F&B outlets and food-related retail such as a grocery or a bakery. There may also be a wellness component such as a spa/fitness centre.
The lobby will be moved from the street level to Level 4, which will also house meeting rooms, a swimming pool, bar and dining facilities. Levels five and upwards will continue to house hotel rooms, though the room count will increase from 223 to around 270 to 300.
RB Capital has been managing Gallery Hotel since completing its $232.5-million acquisition late last year, but market watchers expect the group to appoint an external hotel operator post-refurbishment.
Next door, operations will continue at The Quayside's retail podium while it is repositioned. Only about half the current 16 predominantly F&B tenants will remain after the revamp.
The total number of outlets will be increased to 20, while the lettable area will remain at 33,000 sq ft. The new operators will be from Singapore and the region (including Australia).
RB Capital plans to hold both assets as long-term investment for rental yield.
SCDA's founder and principal, Chan Soo Khian, said lush outdoor refreshment areas (ORAs) will be set up around Gallery Hotel's perimeter - livening up both Nanson Road and Saiboo Street. "These F&B and lifestyle concepts will also occupy new formats such as large outdoor terraces on every floor of the retail podium, culminating in a lush pool deck on the fourth storey sky terrace.
"Every terrace overlooking the Singapore River will afford generous views of the CBD skyline," said Mr Chan.
The Quayside retail podium will receive a facelift, and a tree-lined and lushly landscaped pedestrianised promenade created along the Singapore River to complement the timber-decked platforms of ORAs - which will help draw various forms of activities and interactions for passers-by traversing the promenade, enlivening the riverfront as a public space.
Tyrone Tabing, CEO of Singapore River One - the place manager of the Singapore River precinct - including Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay - said: "The two properties involved - Quayside and Gallery Hotel - are relatively quiet properties with tremendous unrealised economic potential. RB Capital's plans bring energy and excitement to an important location along the River ."
In addition to owning The Gallery Hotel and Holiday Inn Express Clarke Quay, RB Capital is developing the 300-room Park Hotel Farrer Park in Little India, totalling about 1,000 rooms in Singapore.