Category Archives: Homewares

Sime Darby Centre@Bt Timah sold to Tuan Sing

Developer Tuan Sing Holdings bought Sime Darby Centre in Bukit Timah for $365 million. The property at 896 Dunearn Road sits on a commercial site of 140,886 sq ft (part freehold /part 999-year leasehold) with an allowable gross plot ratio of 1.8 and a maximum permissible gross floor area of 253,595 sq ft. It is 96 % occupied over a net lettable area of around 202,712 sq ft. The tenants include kitchenware retailer ToTT, Scanteak, Cold Storage and ChildFirst pre-school.

New York-based private equity giant Blackstone Group had bought 70 % stake in Sime Darby Centre for just under $200 million last year from Malaysian palm oil producer Sime Darby Berhad, according to media reports.

This means Tuan Sing’s purchase resulted a 25% gain for Blackstone on its investment. There is a significant potential for commercial activities that can serve the needs of the vast residential community in the vicinity, thus the asset can generate long-term revenue and profit.

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Sime Darby Centre for sale

Blackstone Group plans to sell Sime Darby Centre in Bukit Timah, one of the office and retail assets it acquired last year from Malaysian palm-oil producer Sime Darby Berhad, according to people familiar with the matter.

Located in an ageing commercial block along Dunearn Road and directly in front of King Albert Park MRT station, Sime Darby Centre houses tenants like kitchenware retailer ToTT, Scanteak, Cold Storage and ChildFirst pre-school. The block consists of builtup area of 250,000 sq ft — 80 per cent is office space and the rest is retail. The development sits on freehold and 999-year leasehold land parcels zoned for commercial use and with 1.8 plot ratio.

Blackstone owns a 70 per cent stake in the Sime Darby Centre and Sime owns the rest. The conglomerate, Malaysia’s biggest listed palm-oil producer, sold some property assets in Australia and Singapore to help pare debt.

The site could attract bids from large and mid-sized Singapore developers including Far East Organization, City Developments, Frasers Centrepoint and United Industrial Corp.

The New York-based private equity firm expects to fetch about S$300 million for Sime Darby Centre, which it bought for just under S$200 million last year. Blackstone in May acquired a majority stake in three Singapore property assets, including the Sime Darby Centre, in a deal that valued them at about S$300 million.

Blackstone, which manages more than US$100 billion (S$140 billion) in real estate assets worldwide, in the past has bought residential apartment blocks in Singapore’s prime area.

Changing electric point yourself

When an electrical switch becomes faulty, it causes much frustration; having to spend tens of dollars to engage a electrician which costs many times more than the cost of the switch itself. However, the daunting task of changing a switch coupled with the danger of electrocution makes one with little choice but to engage external help.

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To get started on changing the faulty switch, you first will need a few tools – flat head screw driver and Philips screwdriver. What’s next?

1. Turn off the master switch at the DB box (if you are not sure which switch to turn off)

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If you are an amateur, it’s extremely important to take extra caution when dealing with electrical switches – switching off the mains reduces the risk of electrocution. Also, do make sure that you are in a well-lit place.

2. Get the tools and spare part ready.

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The spare switch can be bought in most hardware stores for a few couple of dollars. And a flathead/Philips screwdriver is a essential handy tool every home should have.

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Pull out the switch cover by applying a little force until you hear a click sound.

3. Dismantle the spoilt switch

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When you unscrew the holding screws of the switch there is a partial blockage by the border of the switch.  You have to remove the border cover by using a flathead screwdriver and dislodge the cover at the groove in the picture.

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3. Remove the switch wires properly

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After you removed the screws you will see the wires dangling in the interior. You have to unscrew the wires from the holding points using a screwdriver (with the relevant heads).

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It is good to remove the wires one by one and attached to the new switch in the right order so that you won’t have problem with the circuitry.

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4. Secure the new switch.

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5. Put back the cover and turn on the master switch back in the DB box.

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Now the switch is good to go.

Upsell your property at a downturn

When the property market is booming and buyers/tenants are plentiful for a limited supply of housing, home owners can afford to do little to invest in the interiors of their assets. Desperate buyers or tenants can commit a premium to a property just based on the location and other attributes other than keeping the interiors pretty.

However in the current lull market, this strategy will definitely put home owners’ assets at a disadvantage. When buyers/tenants are few and the supply is high, one have to upsell one’s property by investing in marketing, including making the property able to sell by itself. Attributes like location, outdoor views and surrounding amenities are usually beyond the home owners’ control after they possessed the property. What is really within a home owner’s control is the interior of the property. A well-maintained and beautiful home interior can be a pleasure to behold even in pictures and videos.

“Home-staging”, a termed coined by the Americans for a decorating technique, is a popular technique to turn a slow-moving listing into a sought-after trophy asset. Home staging including cleaning up, re-arranging the furniture and furnishings, repainting the walls and other sensory improvements to the property during home-viewings. The objective is to make a property to stand out among a buyer’s market, and to sell it faster at a possible higher price.

Some homeowners also engaged staging services from property agents, interior design specialists, furnishings companies and furniture leasing companies to spruce up the home interiors for better visibility among the crowd. Photography is also an important element to entice prospective buyers/tenants even before they view the actual place.

However if one has limited budget and resources to conduct a professional home-staging, here are some tips that one can do on his/her own.

  1. Declutter. In an urban city like Singapore, clutter can easily built up in a home after purchases after a sales therapy, or due to lack of time to maintain the interiors as a result of work. Clutter makes it hard for prospective buyers/tenants to see the property’s favourable attributes. So by conducting a spring cleaning to remove the clutter in the home will boost a better chance than a cluttered home.
  2. Keeping it clean. Marketing a uncleaned home to prospective buyers/tenants can be a turn-off. Thus make sure it is generally cleaned before conducting home viewing to prospects. Some key areas of concern include the areas/appliances commonly used by tenants (eg toilet, sofas, kitchen, ovens and stoves, curtains).
  3. Photography. Online marketing is the norm nowadays for home ads. Taking good photographs to showcase the property potential such as good natural light and large interiors are a must. Thanks to advance in the technology many smartphones can take pictures as good as compact cameras. Together with filters in different apps, the “feel” of the interiors can be adjusted to make a pleasant visual impact.
  4. Avoid “loud” items. Interior makeup can be quite a personal taste and hence making the interiors as neutral as possible is a important aspect to avoid putting off some of the prospects. Examples include a bright red statue or a neon pink curtains that maybe a home owner’s pride but it can put off some prospective buyers/tenants.
  5. Play up the good attributes. Decorate a balcony with unblocked view of the neighbourhood to create a warm and inviting atmosphere can be a plus.
  6. Use scents. Fix the source of bad odours instead of just spraying room scents. Some interesting scents include pumpkin spice or vanilla cookie scented candle to create a post-baking ambience for your home.

Dempsey gets a new lifestyle quarter

Tanglin Village started out in the 1860s as army barracks. In the 1990s, it became known for its furniture shops. After the turn of the century came upmarket restaurants such as PS. Cafe, as well as art galleries.

Now, Tanglin Village is undergoing a makeover and is getting Dover Street Market a well-known multi-label fashion store in  a new lifestyle quarter.

Chang Korean BBQ Restaurant and antique store Shang Antique – will move out when their leases expire on Feb 29, to make way for the new tenant.

Como Dempsey, a complex housing Dover Street Market, is an edgy concept store conceived by Comme des Garcons’ Rei Kawakubo, and a specially conceptualised restaurant and bar by renowned French restaurateur Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The 5,268 sq m site, comprising blocks 17 and 18, will also have a new dining concept offering signature dishes from around the world. Popular local Peranakan restaurant Candlenut has been included in the proposal.

The new project is expected to “significantly contribute to creating and sustaining the vibrant Dempsey atmosphere and Singapore’s tourism scene”, said Ms Ranita Sundramoorthy, STB’s director of attractions, dining and retail.
Como Lifestyle offered to pay a monthly rent of $106,300 for an initial lease term of three years, renewable up till Dec 31, 2022.
The debut of “Como Dempsey” will mark the latest chapter in the area’s transformation.
You can find out more:

Wear an Artpiece, Touch a Legacy (Introduction to Batik Art and fashion)

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

“Batik is a technique of manual wax-resist dyeing applied to whole cloth, or cloth made using this technique. Batik is made either by drawing dots and lines of the resist with a spouted tool called a canting, or by printing the resist with a copper stamp called a cap. The applied wax resists dyes and therefore allows the artisan to color selectively by soaking the cloth in one color, removing the wax with boiling water, and repeating if multiple colors are desired.

SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSCA tradition of making batik is found in various countries, including Nigeria, China, India, Malaysia, Philippines and Sri Lanka; the batik of Indonesia, however, is the most well-known. Indonesian batik made in the island of Java has a long history of acculturation, with diverse patterns influenced by a variety of cultures, and is the most developed in terms of pattern, technique, and the quality of workmanship. On October 2009, UNESCO designated Indonesian batik as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. ”

Batik art was rather unappealing to me for quite a long time. Preferring contemporary art work, I thought Batik art as somewhat outdated and unfashionable. Even old Chinese art fascinated me more than Batik. The closest encounter I had with Batik art, was during a trip to Genting in 2001. It was during a short trip shortly after my graduation when my friends and I were thinking of visiting the casino, but we were not in the right attire. Based on the management, we have to wear either collared formal or Batik wear. Being newly-minted engineering graduates then, our apparel style was just the basic streetwear of T-shirts and jeans. That killed off any idea of visiting the casino there even till now, as well as any positive feel in this art ironically.

After the visit to Kiah’s Gallery in 71 Unit B Sultan Gate, my encounter for Batik art took a new twist. The owners of the gallery, Yati and Ain, introduced  a new batik world to my partner and I . What I thought as just some outdated craft in making clothes is actually a detailed art with centuries of history. It has influences from Chinese, Indian, Dutch and other cultures, which periodically have a major influence in the South-East Asia region over the past millennia. Every fabric has a story to tell and a culture to teach.

SAMSUNG CSCUsing each batik fabric, one can tailor into fashionable apparel according to one’s needs. Kiah’s Gallery is retailer of Batik art as well as customizer of batik wear. Their passion to revive the dying batik art propelled them to share with the public, using dedicated craftwork and skillful hands into an fashionable wear one can put on their body.

SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSCEvery batik fabric is an delicate piece of art. The fine prints as well as the details of every step can be observed on the fabric itself.

SAMSUNG CSCSAMSUNG CSCAt Kiah’s Gallery, the owners have prepared many fashion wear based on the batik fabric. Styles similar to Chinese, Arabic, African and modern wear can be found in Kiah’s Gallery. Each batik fabric can be bought from $35 onwards, while each fashion artwear can be had from $100 onwards.

If you are interested to find out more, you can visit Kiah’s Gallery @ 71B Sultan Gate in Kampong Glam. 71 sultan gate

Oh, my Old SIngapore

As the nation celebrates its jubilee year, Nabilah Said & Deborah Lee speak to 10 local personalities about places that remind them of the Singapore of the past

1 JANICE WONG, 32, pastry chef and owner of 2am: dessertbar

Favourite spot: Chinatown

I lived in an apartment just above the Hong Lim Market and Food Centre till I was three years old and my grandmother continued to live there till I was nine.

In fact, the staircase I would take up to my house was just next to the popular Heng Kee Curry Chicken Noodles.

There used to be street buskers who would play music while we ate.

These days, I come here once every two months and the owners of Heng Kee still remember me.

Sometimes, they automatically serve me a glass of my favourite sugarcane juice when I am here.

It’s like coming back to family.

These hawker stalls that have been here for years are the ones that should be celebrated.

The owners of Heng Kee are here from as early as 3am to prepare the curry noodles and the queues are always snaking long.

I may be in the pastry business, but I love the flavours of food like this.

I take my friends from overseas to Chinatown often.

Even though some parts have been modernised, I think there’s still a lot of heritage to be found here.

One thing is for sure – the crowd has not changed. There’s a certain generation of older Singaporeans who are still here.

Nabilah Said


2 CAROLYN KAN, 42, founder- designer of Singapore artisan jewellery label Carrie K.

Favourite spot: Lazarus Island

Going to Lazarus Island (below) always feels like an adventure to jewellery designer Carolyn Kan (above). ST PHOTOS: ONG WEE JIN, ASHLEIGH SIM

Lazarus Island, off the south-west coast of Singapore, is the only place here where I feel like I am on an adventure.

It is an uninhabited island to which one does not have direct access – you have to take a ferry to St John’s Island and cross a link bridge to Lazarus.

One memorable incident there was when I found a set of train tracks that led nowhere. I wish I could remember exactly when.

Nowadays, whenever I visit the island with my husband, we make it a point to look for them after taking a boat ride to the island and after a swim.

Deborah Lee


3 KENNY CHAN, 63, store and merchandising director of Books Kinokuniya

Favourite spot: Former MPH Building in Stamford Road, now known as Vanguard Building. The Urban Redevelopment Authority awarded it conservation status in 2003.

A good experience at the old MPH bookstore in Stamford Road (below) inspired Mr Kenny Chan (above) to join the book industry. PHOTOS: ST FILE

I love books. The MPH Building was one of my favourite places because it was right next to the old National Library. It was at the now-defunct MPH bookstore there that I was awarded the store’s book voucher, as a literature prize in school.

Inspired by the service there, I vowed to become the store manager and I eventually did it in the late 1980s.

Deborah Lee


 

4 BOO JUNFENG, 32, film-maker

Favourite spot: Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

Film-maker Boo Junfeng (right) shooting his film, Parting, at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. PHOTO: PEANUT PICTURES

When I was in primary school, my parents took me on a train ride to Johor Baru. I still remember being on the noisy train, chugging through lush greenery and old HDB estates.

Tanjong Pagar was relatively quiet when it was still functioning.

I guess that was because it was the terminus of the KTM line. We used to say that when you came to the station, you were kind of already in Malaysia. We don’t get to say that anymore.

In its later years, I often went there with my friends for supper. The mee rebus at the cafeteria was very good.

It isn’t easy gaining access to the station now that it’s closed, but I’m glad the authorities have decided to open it to the public on public holidays.

I shot a key scene in my short film, Parting, which is part of the anthology 7 Letters, there. The scene is set in the 1960s.

For a brief moment, I tried to bring the station back to life again.

I’m glad I got to put it on film.

Nabilah Said


5 SAMANTHA SCOTT-BLACKHALL, 36, theatre director and artistic director of Blank Space Theatre

Favourite spot: Colonial-style cafe Colbar, Wessex Estate

Theatre director Samantha Scott-Blackhall likes Colbar cafe for its laid-back feel and quiet surroundings. ST PHOTO: NABILAH SAID

In the 1990s, I had just entered the theatre scene and a lot of the new friends I made then happened to live in the Portsdown Road area.

It was not unusual for us to clear their living rooms to rehearse for shows.

Colbar, nestled among the foliage of Portsdown Road, was a cool place to hang out at after rehearsals.

It was a very peaceful place to be at. All our attention was on one another and our stories.

The cafe is located away from the main road so there are no cars whizzing by – it is just the gentle hum of fans and pockets of laughter competing with the army of crickets all hanging out at Portsdown.

Actually, I didn’t realise it till now, but Colbar moved from Jalan Hang Jebat to its present location in Whitchurch Road in 2004.

I had some trouble finding it as I didn’t know it had moved, but then I saw the recognisable blue exterior and I knew that was it.

It has retained a lot of the old architecture, such as the timbre panels and clay roof tiles.

The laid-back atmosphere is still the same – and the insects are still there.

Nabilah Said


6 SANTHA BHASKAR, 76, Indian dance pioneer and artistic director of Bhaskar’s Arts Academy

Favourite spot: Victoria Theatre

Dancer Santha Bhaskar performed her first solo at the Victoria Theatre in 1955. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

I associate Victoria Theatre with my performances and my life.

I have performed there many times. In 1955, that was where I had my first solo performance. I was 15 or 16 years old and had to perform in front of a big audience.

I was from India and had only performed in temples or small theatres before.

The theatre was huge, like a palace, and the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles by the river made it seem even more majestic.

I remember the curtains and the lights, and the general impression of floating through space.

I wasn’t nervous, but I was filled with positive energy.

The theatre has been renovated since and its interior has shrunk in size. But I feel the same emotions when I step inside it. The spirit of the place remains the same.

Home is home.

Nabilah Said


7 SANDRA RILEY TANG, 25, musician from pop-folk band The Sam Willows

Favourite spot: Old-school HDB playgrounds

Musician Sandra Riley Tan (above) has happy childhood memories of playing at old-schoool playgrounds (below). PHOTOS: ERIC CHEN, STEPHANIE YEOW

There used to be a playground in the shape of a dragon near my school, Yuhua Primary School, in Jurong. I have fond memories of going there every day after school with my friends. We’d play catching and hide and seek, running up and down the spine of the dragon.

I would feel very excited, but also scared because I was supposed to be home. We’d spend one to two hours there before heading home.

It’s a bittersweet memory because I won’t be able to show my future kids that playground. Nonetheless, I still can’t resist a good playground. You can always find me on the swings. The higher the swing can go, the better.

Nabilah Said


8 JASON WONG, 51, board chairman of Focus On The Family and former Singapore Prisons Service deputy director and chief of staff

Favourite spot: Mount Faber

Mount Faber (below) was the playground of Mr Jason Wong (above) when he was growing up. PHOTOS: ST FILE

My father used to work for Keppel Shipyard, so my family lived in the shipyard’s staff quarters at the foot of Mount Faber until I was 12 years old.

I was still in lower primary school when a few families who were close friends started going on weekly pre-dawn walks. The walks usually took place on the weekends, when the fathers were not working.

We would set off after 5.30amto catch the sunrise on top of Mount Faber. I still remember the beautiful scenery at the peak.

On weekdays, the children would meet in the evening atop Mount Faber – where the cable car station is now located – or at a nearby park several flights of steps below Mount Faber’s peak, to play hide and seek, and catch butterflies. It was a playground in our backyard.

Deborah Lee


9 RANDY CHAN, 45, principal architect of architecture studio at Zarch Collaboratives

Favourite spot: Shophouse at 43 Blair Road

Mr Randy Chan’s grandmother once owned this shophouse in Blair Road. ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

The shophouse belonged to my grandmother and was where the Chan clan gathered for monthly reunions or festive occasions.

The house looked huge when I was younger. I remember seeing huge spiders and cobwebs at every corner of the house.

Its architectural features, such as the fan-shaped windows, had an old-world charm. The aged Peranakan floor tiles, some cracked, were rich in texture.

When my grandmother’s funeral was held there, there was one memorable incident.

I was on night vigil with some of my relatives, but had fallen asleep near the coffin after offering incense. At around 2am, a loud knocking came from within the coffin. Everyone became scared and huddled together, except for me – sound asleep and oblivious.

The next morning, my uncles said that it was possibly my grandmother’s ghost.

Vigil-keepers for the remaining nights of the wake stayed awake.

We sold the shophouse after my grandmother died in the 1980s.

Deborah Lee


10 FANDI AHMAD, 53, former captain and current coach of Singapore’s national football team Lions XII

Favourite spot: Bussorah Street

Fandi Ahmad (above) hangs out at Bussorah Street (below) with his friends on Fridays. PHOTOS: ST FILE

This street is my favourite because I hang out with my friends there after Friday prayers at Sultan Mosque every week.

There are many interesting shops that sell things from books to trinkets to accessories.

I usually drive there. I get to chill with my friends, relax and take in the atmosphere. Sometimes, we even jam and play music there.

http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/oh-my-old-singapore-0