When efforts to renew the lease of 55 Waterloo Street (the current Catholic Centre) were being undertaken, the team managing the lease renewal confronted a range of real estate issues. It dawned on them that it would benefit the archdiocese if it had a deeper real estate knowledge and expertise at hand to tap on.
A recommendation was made to Archbishop Nicholas Chia then to establish an organisation for land and properties. The Archdiocesan Land & Properties Singapore (ALPS) was subsequently formed in December 2009.
The role of ALPS in its early years was largely advisory. It mainly provided advice and support to the archbishop on land and property matters.
The first thing that was done was the compilation and consolidation of an inventory of property assets. This was essential to provide an overview of the land and properties of the archdiocese. It allowed ALPS to look into the best use of and enhancement of the potential of these assets.
The ALPS secretariat today continues to study archives on property assets to help it understand historical contexts and current options. Such understanding allows ALPS to be effective in its advisory role as well as in its consultations with other parties.
As land is a valuable resource, it is helpful that groups, ministries and archdiocesan organisations utilise this limited resource in an efficient manner. Historically, the archdiocese has been very supportive of Catholic organisations by making land and space freely available for their use.
“The archdiocese has made available space to many Catholic organisations to use at nominal or no charge for many decades. However, the costs of upkeep, maintenance and lease renewal far exceed the collections received and this is not sustainable over the long term,” said Mr Augustine Tan, chairman of ALPS. “Going forward, we seek to [make] Catholic organisations aware of the operational and opportunity costs associated with the use of space and be mindful of space needs for their organisations.”
The discipline of organisations making a consistent contribution for their space was first implemented at the refurbished Catholic Centre. A standard rate was applied to the organisations at this premise.
To promote efficiency and cost effectiveness, the Catholic Centre implemented shared services for occupants’ office infrastructure support, such as broadband connections, security and maintenance. All visitors to the Catholic Centre get free wireless access.
To promote the optimal use of space, the Catholic Centre also implemented shared premises. Being in the city, its location was considered very accessible and it was expected to be a preferred venue for events and functions.
“We felt that common facilities such as meeting rooms, function rooms, even rooftop terrace, which are not frequently used by individual organisations, should be on a shared basis,” explained Mr Elijah Tan, manager of ALPS. “Not only were these facilities opened to occupants but also to the general Catholic community. This meant that the facilities could be more optimally used, and space, which would otherwise be used as dedicated meeting or function rooms, could be freed up for other essential uses.”
ALPS is also consulted by archdiocesan organisations and parishes on real estate related matters. For example, the Archdiocesan Finance Commission (AFC) regularly invites ALPS to provide feedback on proposals for redevelopment or refurbishment works by parishes. ALPS also assisted AFC on the development of the “Instructions to Parishes on Building Projects” document to provide guidance to the parishes on the process for embarking on building projects.
In 2012 and at the direction of Archbishop William Goh, the role of ALPS was expanded to include managing certain archdiocesan properties. Estate management covers a wide area and could include upholding fire safety standards, maintaining services such as lifts, water tank, fire safety equipment, keeping premises clean and secure, and other works.
Besides managing the Catholic Centre, ALPS currently also oversees the upkeep and maintenance of the Catholic Archdiocesan Education Centre.
When Archbishop William Goh launched his 10-year pastoral plan to the Catholic community, ALPS made adjustments to the plans for property. These adjustments, to align with the archbishop’s priorities for evangelisation, clergy, family, young people and migrants, are ongoing.
The ALPS Council is made up of lay volunteers and clergy. The volunteers are drawn from a mix of professionals mainly from the real estate industry. The council meets on a regular basis on key and operational matters. Its meetings are attended by the archbishop.
ALPS Council members chair steering and working committees which are formed for specific archdiocesan property projects. The ALPS Council is supported by a secretariat team comprising five full-time staff.
ALPS welcomes property-related professionals (architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, estate managers, valuation specialists and lawyers) who wish to contribute their expertise to the archdiocese on a pro bono basis.
ALPS is also compiling a list of Catholic professionals and companies who wish to offer their services on a favourable basis to the archdiocese. These include areas such as construction, electrical, air-conditioning, security, audio-visual, IT, fire protection, pest control, cleaning services, architectural, engineering, and interior design.
|The Archdiocesan Land & Properties Singapore (ALPS) Council|
|Archbishop||:||Archbishop William Goh|
|Vicar General (Admin)||:||Msgr Philip Heng|
|Financial Administrator||:||Deacon Clement Chen|
|Chairperson||:||Mr Augustine Tan|
|Vice-Chairperson||:||Ms Pauline Goh|
|Treasurer||:||Mr Willie Cheng|
|Members||:||Ms Gertrude Chan, Mr Winston Hauw, Ms Joyce Koh, Ms Martha Soh, Mr Gerard Tan|
|Manager||:||Mr Elijah Tan|
|Executive||:||Ms Helen Seah|
|Property Executive||:||Mr Martin Tay|
|Facilities Manager||:||Mr Lawrence Neo|
|Maintenance Officer, CAEC||:||Mr Elias Liyanto|