Kallang Wave mall restaurant ordered to pay $2.7m to landlord

The owner of a restaurant and bar in Kallang Wave Mall that closed down after failing to pay rent for eight months has been ordered to pay $2.7 million to the landlord.

The Court of Appeal yesterday upheld an earlier High Court decision that landlord SMRT Alpha was entitled to recover from Strait Colonies more than $562,000 in outstanding rent and late payment interest, and $2.16 million in damages for breach of contract.

Strait Colonies operated the Straits Express Restaurant & Bar at the mall between December 2014 and September 2015.

It also ran a club, China One, in Clarke Quay.

In March 2014, Strait Colonies agreed to operate a business at the mall, which is part of the Singapore Sports Hub. The five-year lease agreement stated that the premises could be used as a "pub cum F&B" outlet with live music.

SMRT Alpha applied to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to change the use of the premises from "restaurant" to "restaurant cum pub". But the URA said the premises can be used only as a "restaurant with ancillary bar" for three years.

The lease was signed in August 2014, after which Strait Colonies carried out fitting works while it sought to convince the URA to approve "ancillary live entertainment".

The restaurant and bar became fully operational in December that year.

On Feb 12, 2015, SMRT Alpha raised the rent as the floor area was slightly larger than previously stated. Strait Colonies objected but to no avail.

The tenant then began to fall behind in its rent payment.

SMRT Alpha gave the tenant till Sept 30 to submit a settlement plan. On that day, Strait Colonies vacated the premises.

SMRT Alpha sued Strait Colonies, which argued it was entitled to rescind the contract because the landlord had misrepresented the use of the premises.

The High Court accepted the landlord had made misrepresentations. But the tenant affirmed the contract by taking possession of the premises, doing fitting works, opening for business and paying rent initially.

Strait Colonies appealed but the three-judge apex court said yesterday that the contract holds since the company signed it without any qualifications after learning of URA's decision.