‘We Have 6 Months To Leave’: The Cathay Tenants Only Given News Of Closure The Same Day Media Reports Went Live

The Cathay Tenants Surprised By Development Plans, Appeal To Delay Final Move-Out Date

When news first broke that The Cathay building in Orchard would close for redevelopment works, Singaporeans were shocked.

But the shock was not limited to shoppers. Tenants, apparently, were also told of the impending closure the very same day it was reported in the media.

A representative of one of the tenants, Trapped Escape Room, said they received no notice of the news beforehand.

According to media reports, the last day for tenants is 18 Aug. Despite pleas from tenants to extend the last date, the management allegedly could not grant the request.

Though owners face a tough six months ahead, some part-time staff were more sanguine about the situation, expressing that they will miss The Cathay’s convenient location.

Plans came as surprise to tenants

Speaking to MS News on the condition of anonymity, a representative for Trapped Escape Room, located on Basement 1, said the development plans surprised tenants.

“It only came out in the news that there was a redevelopment project many months ago, but they did not share the plans [then],” they said.

Even when they approached management to ask for their plans and whether the redevelopment would affect tenants, management told them that “they have nothing to share”.

Such responses continued despite several follow-ups, and finally, the ‘plans’ were abruptly given to the tenants via email the same day the media reported on them.

It was only after reading the email that the fate of their tenancy became crystal clear:

Okay, you have six months to leave.

Trapped Escape Room was caught off-guard. When the owners decided to set up shop at The Cathay two years ago, they were not expecting to move out so soon. Hence, the news came as a shock to them.

“When they said [we had] six months [to leave], our hearts dropped,” they said. It meant they’d have to find a new home after barely two years, and their lease would end prematurely.

Requests to extend tenancy to Dec allegedly rejected

Trapped Escape Room faced a similar situation at *SCAPE, which will also undergo redevelopment.

*SCAPE To Revamp Building For Today’s Youth, Reopening In 2024 With New Frontage & Creative Spaces

Its branch at *SCAPE was granted an extension to its tenancy after tenants requested they close after the Nov-Dec festive period. Hence, Trapped Escape Room asked if the same could be done at The Cathay for tenants.

But the management allegedly replied that changing the moving-out date is “out of the question”.

Trapped Escape Room also noted that at *SCAPE, a town hall meeting was held between the tenants and management to gather feedback. In the end, the date was changed.

They felt the management at *SCAPE exhibited more of a human touch.

“But [The Cathay management] kept quiet, and none of them came to talk to us. No town hall meeting, nothing. It’s just a bit disappointing.”

Trapped Escape Room has not talked to other building tenants, but they know that newer ones have moved in within the past year or so.

“If I’d known about the redevelopment plans, I wouldn’t have taken [tenancy there] in the first place,” they shared.

Currently, they’re talking to other mall landlords along Orchard Road and deciding on their next home, as they said it is important for them to be located along the shopping belt.

But even the final date of operations isn’t settled yet, as clarifying questions to management are unanswered as of the time of writing.

Tenants are hence unclear so far about whether the last date of operations is 18 Aug or if they have to move out by that date.

Other The Cathay tenants either moved out or are waiting for Aug

When MS News went down to The Cathay on Wednesday (1 Mar), there was a steady, if small, drip of human traffic. Many shops were shuttered, with no indication that new tenants would take over.

Some students were either studying at the various cafes scattered around the first three floors or hanging out with friends. This isn’t surprising given The Cathay’s proximity to several schools in the area.

However, they will have to find new study haunts soon.

En-ye, a part-time worker at Kooks Creamery, said The Cathay used to be a hangout place for her as a student.

As such, she likes the location but will likely leave the job in the next two months to move on to a full-time position at another company. Many students and people in their 20s to 30s likely share her sentiment.

Rdel, who works at Best Imprezzione on Level 2, said shifting locations isn’t new to her since her company was previously elsewhere. But they moved into The Cathay after the Circuit Breaker in 2020, which means it’s been less than three years.

Like En-ye, Rdel finds the location convenient due to its proximity to nearby MRT stations.

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Featured image by MS News.

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