A Singaporean megachurch is set to buy The Star Vista shopping mall at a whopping S$296 million (US$217 million), it announced yesterday.
Rock Productions, the business arm of the New Creation Church, which already owns the mall’s 5,000-seat auditorium where it has held services for seven years, will purchase the rest of the property from mall developer and owner CapitaLand to keep it out of other hands.
Buying the whole mall will save the church from any unforeseen developments that may come if purchased by another buyer, the church told reporters yesterday.
Selling the mall was part of CapitaLand’s asset divestment plan, the proceeds of which will be used for other acquisitions, according to a company statement. The sale is set to take place at the end of the year.
“The divestment of The Star Vista is in line with CapitaLand’s active and disciplined asset recycling strategy … The proceeds from these divestments will enhance CapitaLand’s financial flexibility to seize new growth opportunities,” said Jason Leow, the group’s domestic and international president.
New Creation is a non-denominational Christian church led by senior pastor Joseph Prince.
Located near the Buona Vista MRT Interchange, Star Vista opened in 2012 with over 24,000sqm of retail space.
That’s when New Creation started holding services in the mall’s Star Performing Arts Center, or Star PAC. The church bought it outright for S$500 million, an amount much higher than the value of the entire mall.
“Given that The Star Vista and The Star PAC are inextricably linked, our immediate objective … is both to protect the interest of the church and to preserve the good experience for all who come to The Star [Performing Arts Center],” Deacon Yong Chee Ram told The Straits Times.
The church, fronted by popular senior pastor Prince, opened in 1983 with services held at a Holland Drive flat. Its main weekly services are held at the Star PAC, while it hosts Chinese services in a Marina Bay Sands ballroom, along with other satellite venues, the church’s website says.
Many Singaporeans have been skeptical about businesses tied to megachurches ever since the City Harvest megachurch made headlines for misappropriating church funds to pursue a pastor’s music career.
Pastor Kong Hee, husband of China Wine singer and pastor Sun Ho, was released from prison a year early in August after serving just over two years behind bars, made possible by an early release program.