SINGAPORE - Reprieve is at hand for churchgoers who have to queue for as long as two hours in Suntec City Mall, in order to attend a worship service conducted by New Creation Church (NCC).
Currently, the 24,000-strong congregation attends services at multiple venues, including the church's largest venue, the Rock Auditorium in Suntec City Mall.
The auditorium seats about 1,200, and its lease expires next year.
Come November, the mega-church's business arm, Rock Productions, is set to throw open the doors of its spanking new $500-million performing-arts facility in Buona Vista.
The facility, called The Star Performing Arts Centre or The Star Pac, includes a lushly designed 5,000-seat theatre that covers 46,930 sq ft and is built atop a shopping mall owned and managed by CapitaMalls Asia.
The chairman of NCC's council, Mr Matthew Kang, told my paper: "We have been waiting (for) four years to see this project come to fruition... The new venue, with its larger seating capacity, will certainly help ease the congestion at our services."
The rush for seats each week is so bad that the church management has had to issue entry tickets with seat numbers since a few months back.
CapitaMalls Asia pumped some $477 million into the retail portion of the building, named The Star Vista.
The Star Pac will span the third to the 11th floor of the building and will be Singapore's largest neighbourhood auditorium.
It will also house an outdoor amphitheatre which can seat about 300 people, a stable of multi-purpose rooms to be used for meeting or as studios, as well as a roof-top reception area.
Meanwhile Rock Productions is looking to market The Star Pac as a venue-for-hire to cater to mid- to large-scale performances and events.This includes the staging of musicals, pop concerts and dance recitals.
Its large seating capacity will fill the void for mid-sized performance venues in Singapore, said Ms Sarah Lim, the marketing and front-of-house manager of The Star Pac.
Venues at the Esplanade and Marina Bay Sands seat only about 2,000 people each, while larger spaces such as the Singapore Indoor Stadium take about 12,000.
"The fact that we are located away from the Central Business District is a plus too as those who drive will not have to rush with the rest of the crowd heading to town," said Ms Lim.
The retail portion of The Star Vista, set to open in September, is expected to serve the needs of more than 400,000 residents, students and workers within a 5km radius of the one-north precinct.
More than half of the net lettable retail area spanning 163,000 sq ft has been leased out at a rental rate of between $14 and $18 per sq ft, to date.
As a whole, the mall will see three levels of 110 retail and F7B outlets, with the anchor tenants being Cold Storage and The Kitchen by Koufu.
Visitors can also look forward to enjoying aromatic coffee at Owl's first cafe, as well as popular Persian cuisine at Shiraz, which is making its first foray into the suburbs.
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