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Showbiz, Singapore

Joyce Lim
Friday, Jun 20, 2014

Showbiz, Singapore

Zouk may shut by year end

The Straits Times | Joyce Lim | Friday, Jun 20, 2014

SINGAPORE - The founder of Zouk, Mr Lincoln Cheng, says he is tired of getting short lease extensions for the popular dance club's Jiak Kim Street site.

If he does not get a three-year extension he is now requesting, he will close the 23-year-old iconic nightspot for good by the end of this year.

Mr Cheng, 67, revealed this to The Straits Times earlier this month, ending recent speculation as to what will eventually happen to the much-loved Singapore club.

Currently ranked No.7 in the world by DJ Mag, an influential US music magazine, Zouk has become an internationally recognised name on the global club circuit.

Each week, the club's five outlets - Wine Bar, Phuture, Velvet Underground-Dance and Velvet Underground-Lounge and the Zouk main dance hall - draw more than 10,000 revellers from Singapore, Asia and other parts of the world. It is the only club that has won the prestigious Best Nightspot Experience award from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) a record nine times.

Last year, financial audit firm Ernst & Young valued the home-grown brand and its business at $40 million.

When the club first opened in 1991, the land around it was largely vacant. But today, the club - which is situated within three recently conserved riverside warehouses - is dwarfed by neighbouring condominiums and hotels. It was no surprise, therefore, when questions about the fate of Zouk started making the rounds in 2012.

In the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) latest Master Plan, which governs Singapore's development over the next 10 to 15 years, Zouk's premises are within a larger site zoned for residential use, with commercial activity on the first floor.

The site has not yet been listed for sale under the Government Land Sales Programme.

It has been reported that its lease was extended till last June, when it first expired in 2012, and once more until June 30 this year.

Last month, the authorities gave a third extension - this time for only six months until the end of December.

A URA spokesman said: "The site was first leased to Zouk in 1990 for interim use as the surrounding area was not fully developed and there were no firm development plans for the site at that point in time. The lease was extended subsequently as there were still no firm plans to develop the site. Over time, the surrounding area has become an established residential precinct. As such, the use of the site by Zouk has become incompatible with the residential nature of the area."

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