Red House to return in 2016 as commercial-residential project

20130622-bt-red-hse-return-2016-as-mixed-devt-pic THE rebirth of the Red House in Katong and its five adjacent shophouses as an integrated commercial and residential project made further progress yesterday, following its launch.

The new 99-year leasehold development is managed by Warees Investments, the property arm of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), and the various components will be collectively known as the Red House.

There will be a new five-storey residential block with 42 units of between 441 and 1,206 sq ft, priced from $1,499 psf.

The ground floor units at the six conserved shophouses, one of which used to house the former Katong Bakery and Confectionary, commonly referred to as Red House Bakery, will form the commercial component for the new development. In a nod to its heritage, one of the units will be set aside for use as a bakery.

Total gross floor area will be 35,710 sq ft after redevelopment and conservation. Works will start in the third quarter and the project is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2016.

The six shophouses are wakaf properties managed by Muis. A wakaf is an endowment made with cash or property used to support charitable programmes in perpetuity. In the Red House's case, rental income from the shops will be used to provide free health care for the needy.

Haider Sithawalla, chairman of Warees, said at the launch yesterday that Muis, Warees and the trustees of the wakaf have spent much time and effort over the past few years to find ways to improve returns from the properties, as "time has taken its toll" on the six shophouses.

The eventual decision to redevelop Red House was unanimous.

"Judiciously carving out the 99-year leasehold enables the freehold nature of the wakaf to be preserved while at the same time unlocking its current market value for the benefit of the beneficiaries under the wakaf and the community at large," said Mr Sithawalla.

The Red House is the first project under Warees' Wakaf Revitalisation Scheme, which aims to unlock wakaf property value, sustain current wakaf development and support conservation efforts. Warees will announce other projects under the plan towards the end of the year.