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Sailing by Maritime House

A slice of urban and maritime history in the Cantonment Road area will soon be lost to urban renewal.

The Maritime House building in Cantonment Road, known as a hotel exclusively for seafarers transiting through Singapore, will be torn down and redeveloped by late 2024, according to tender documents put up by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).

A project brief in the tender, which closes on April 23, estimates $30 million in construction costs for the revamp. The redeveloped Maritime House will continue providing accommodation for seafarers as well as be a one-stop venue for international training, research and forums...

Maritime House housed the head office of the former National Maritime Board from 1984 till 1996, when the board merged with other government departments to form MPA.

According to the tender, the 15-storey building’s gross plot ratio is set to increase from 2.75 to 3.5. Values above 2.8 indicate the potential for a very high-density development, to be built to above 36 storeys.

“MPA’s preliminary plan is to increase the floor space of Maritime House by about 30 per cent in order to better serve the accommodation needs of seafarers and to set aside space in the building for complementary use such as training,” a spokesman said...

This expansion will cater for about 2,160 sq m of amenities, 1,030 sq m of office space and 190 hotel rooms, up from the current 46...

Besides accommodation for seafarers, the building currently also houses Mariners' Corner, a Hainanese Western restaurant founded in 1984, along with a clinic, lounge, gym, student enrichment centre and the Singapore Maritime Foundation.

With perhaps three years left before demolition, we recently visited Maritime House for a closer look.

The 37-year-old, 15-storey pink and white landmark.

The lobby was small and nondescript, and we could wander around the ground floor without being stopped by security.

The ground floor was mainly occupied by the Singapore Mariners’ Club general office and the Seafarers’ Lounge (both with restricted access), and the Mariners’ Corner Restaurant.

Apparently, the restaurant’s very popular, with its rustic decor and good food. We were foolish not to enquire about making a reservation before turning up, but a kind waiter squeezed a table for us.

The restaurant also has a sense of humour, too!

I had the chicken cutlet set meal, which came with a salad, soup, dessert, and coffee - way too much for a Saturday brunch!

We had an excellent lunch and I hope the restaurant has a spot in the future building rising on this site.

After lunch, we decided to take the lift and explore the rest of the building.

The second floor was occupied by the Singapore Maritime Foundation, the Maritime Dental Surgery, and two medical centres.

The ceiling was remarkably low - I could easily reach it, and I’m not exactly very tall.

The 5th to the 12th floors were serviced apartments for seafarers. The corridors were narrow and spartan, reminiscent of an austere past where practicality overruled opulence. I wondered what the rooms looked like.

There was a Maritime Lounge on the 12th floor, but the doors were locked. All was deathly quiet.

This was when our exploration came to an abrupt end. A cleaner had spotted us earlier; she must have reported us to security, because an officer appeared and politely asked us to leave. Apparently, the serviced apartment levels were not open to public access. We had not seen any signs informing us of this, and one was free to take the lift up to any floor, but we had seen almost all floors by now, so we decided to make a graceful retreat.

The neighbouring HDB block, 4 Everton Park, offers a good view of Maritime House.

We’ll be back! For the restaurant, of course.


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