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POPULAR DESPITE RENTAL HIKES: Queensway still best place for sports retailers

QUEENSWAY Shopping Centre is rundown and fairly inaccessible, it has none of the frills its rivals have, such as a cinema, and rents have been rising. However, tenants at the well-known sporting goods haunt appear willing to stick with it.

Queensway, said Jeans Arcade proprietor Mohamed Yahya, who was echoing what five other retailers in the mall said, is ‘still the best place for a sports retailer’. It has managed to maintain its reputation for being the place to go for one’s sporting needs over the years.

He has been at the mall for more than 30 years now, and is currently paying about $14 per sq ft (psf) for his 330-sq ft, second-floor unit. Last year, when his two-year tenancy agreement ran out, his landlord raised his $3,500 rental to $4,500, a whopping 29 per cent increase. The net effect, he said, is that he is just breaking even now.

Three other tenants that renewed leases within the last year reported rental hikes of between 3 and 20 per cent.

Another factor behind Queensway’s continued popularity is that rents at other locations have moved up too.

The mall, which sits at the junction of Alexandra Road and Queensway, opened in 1976. Individual owners own the freehold units. A check with tenants there found rental rates ranging from about $13 psf to over $18 psf, depending on the location.

The Straits Times saw only one shop unoccupied.

New tenants such as Kobe 2000 proprietor Chan Chan Seng, 66, have been attracted to Queensway because rents there are lower than in other locations in the Katong and National Stadium area. His shop specialises in triathlon equipment. He is paying about $16 psf for the 135-sq ft unit – not as low as he would like, but still less than what landlords in other locations were asking, he said.

The mall is even attracting new, non-sports retailers such as Games Factory, which specialises in Sony gaming products. Its owner, 23-year-old Fred Yeo, signed the tenancy agreement two weeks ago, paying $14 psf for his 248-sq ft unit. He was considering a tiny $25 psf, 160-sq ft unit at the popular Far East Plaza near Orchard Road earlier, but decided to rent the cheaper Queensway unit just in case his business failed.


Source: The Straits Times 17 Dec 07

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