Artist’s impression of the rejuvenated Gillman Barracks (Credit: SLA)
SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - On May 24, Singapore Land Authority (SLA) announced plans to transform Gillman Barracks precinct into “a vibrant lifestyle-focused enclave”. SLA intends to spend $2 million in rejuvenating the precinct, including upgrading the infrastructure by adding covered linkways for walking paths to improve connectivity, and to enhance walkability to nearby parks and the 17 blocks within the precinct.
A themed outdoor playground will be built in the centre of the precinct to attract families with children. Common washrooms will also be upgraded with eco-friendly sanitary fittings. The upgrading and enhancements are expected to be completed by the middle of next year.
SLA intends to expand the lifestyle offerings to include farmer’s markets, bistros with live music, farm-to-table dining, workshops and learning experiences. Generous outdoor refreshment space will also be allocated to commercial areas to encourage alfresco lifestyle in a natural setting.
Gillman Barracks will continue to be positioned as an arts precinct, says SLA. The 10 international and local art galleries managed by the National Arts Council (NAC) will remain a fixture.
Known for its rustic charm and ample outdoor space set amid greenery, Gillman Barracks sits on a 6.6 ha (710,418 sq ft) site with 17 colonial- style buildings, including six F&B outlets. Gillman Barracks is popular with cyclists and hikers, given that it is part of the Southern Ridges loop that includes Alexandra Garden Trail and Henderson Park Connectors and is next to the upcoming Alexandra Nature Park in the Labrador area.
A former military barracks built in 1936, Gillman Barracks housed the British Army’s First and Second Battalions through World War II, before it was handed over to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in the 1970s. The site was vacated by the SAF and repurposed for commercial uses, including dining and art galleries, in the early 2000s. (Find Singapore commercial properties with our commercial directory)
Gillman Barracks was previously managed by the Singapore Economic Development Board, JTC Corp and NAC until 2020, when SLA took over its management. “We have leveraged our experience in adaptive re-use of heritage buildings to create a unique space here at Gillman Barracks, drawing on its immense potential to be reinvented as a lifestyle destination of choice,” says Colin Low, CEO of SLA.
(Albert Chua/ The Edge Singapore)
As part of the rejuvenation, SLA intends to launch two phases of tenders for its commercial spaces at Gillman Barracks. On May 24, it launched a first phase of five blocks at 5A Lock Road, 8 Lock Road, 9A Lock Road, 10 Lock Road and 45 Malan Road.
he largest of these blocks is 9A Lock Road, with a gross floor area of 3,692 sq ft. It has been approved for F&B or retail use. The other four blocks have been approved for F&B use, and have sizes ranging from 688 to 3,660 sq ft.
Unlike the typical three-year lease for commercial properties, SLA is offering these commercial spaces for tender under a five-year lease, with the option to extend for another two or three years. “The longer time horizon encourages potential tenants to enact novel ideas and commit to a higher investment capital,” says Low.
The tenders will be evaluated on a price and quality basis, with 60% weightage placed on quality including concept, creativity, and synergy with the rest of the precinct. Sustainability and green initiatives (such as energy-efficiency fittings, sustainable supplies and packaging) will also be taken into consideration as Gillman Barracks will be repositioned as an eco-friendly precinct, according to SLA.
Themed outdoor playground outside Block 9 (Albert Chua/ The Edge Singapore)
Only two of the six existing F&B tenants will not have to re-tender, namely Naked Finn and Burger Labo, both owned by restaurateur Tan Ken Loon. Tan founded seafood restaurant Naked Finn, which opened at Gillman Barracks in 2015, and Burger Labo opened in the adjacent block in 2019.
The other four blocks, occupied by F&B outlets Creamier Handcrafted Ice Cream and Coffee, Masons Restaurant & Bar, Hopscotch cocktail bar, and grill and biker bar Handlebar will be given the option to participate in the re- tendering process.
Gillman Barracks is well-connected to the Alexandra Garden Trail Park Connector Network, and is close to HortPark, Labrador Park and the Southern Ridges. Labrador MRT Station on the Circle Line is a 10-minute walk from Gillman Barracks. The precinct is already popular with hikers and cyclists.
By expanding its F&B and lifestyle offerings, SLA is hoping to widen the appeal of Gillman Barracks to those working at Mapletree Business City, Alexandra Technopark, as well as res- idents in the Telok Blangah, Holland Road and Farrer Park neighbourhood, along with those in the city area.
“The rejuvenation of Gillman Barracks by SLA is part of its continuous efforts to unlock greater value from State properties through new and innovative ideas, to benefit the wider community,” says Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law, in a statement. “By creating more exciting and varied lifestyle, arts and creative spaces, the rejuvenation effort will add to the vibrancy of the precinct for all to enjoy.”