Category Archives: Marina Bay, Raffles Place, Tanjong Pagar and Singapore River

Districts 1&2

Historic waterfront of Singapore since 1800s

The historic waterfront is traditionally a popular site to usher in the New Year, and for the upcoming celebration, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) also wants Singaporeans to cherish its rich heritage.

It has launched a poster tracing the development of the waterfront since the 1800s, when Singapore served as a trading post. It is the second poster the URA has produced for public use and education. The first, on heritage schools, was released last year.

The poster on the waterfront, which encompasses the area around the mouth of the Singapore River, can be downloaded on the URA’s website and will be distributed to schools electronically.

Mrs Teh Lai Yip, the URA’s senior director of conservation, highlighted several little known historical spots listed in the poster.

For instance, the granite seawall of Telok Ayer Basin located next to the Customs Harbour Branch Building was where ships used to dock.

Built in the 19th century, the seawall serves to remind Singaporeans about the pioneers who helped build the country as a trading hub, said Mrs Teh. The only surviving seawall at the waterfront from that period had to be repaired and re-piled in the 1980s and 1990s because of soil erosion.

“It’s all about provoking and promoting conversation. The aim is to steer the conversation to encourage Singaporeans to treasure and appreciate what we have in our midst,” said Mrs Teh.

Another structure that is often overlooked is a granite memorial stone mounted on a pyramid-shaped brick pedestal.

The stone was previously located along Collyer Quay and was moved in 2010 to the grounds of The Fullerton Hotel.

Laid by the late President Yusof Ishak in 1970, it bears inscriptions in the four official languages commemorating the early immigrants who sailed to Singapore.

But of all the landmarks at the waterfront, one stands out for its architectural innovation in its day: the 18-storey Asia Insurance Building. The Art Deco-style building located at the corner of Collyer Quay and Finlayson Green was once South-east Asia’s tallest in the 1950s.

In 2007, the building was gazetted for conservation and converted into high-end serviced apartments. The award-winning restoration effort has retained many of the original design features such as the travertine stone cladding, antiquated window frames and ornamental staircase railings.

Heritage experts and buffs have identified other structures at the waterfront that are worthy of preservation. These include the balustrade railing at Queen Elizabeth Walk – a promenade located along the Esplanade. According to the URA’s draft masterplan unveiled last month, a portion of the 1960s cement barricades may make way for stepped plazas and an urban beach, allowing people to get closer to the water.

This proposal has, however, received lukewarm response from heritage experts. Architect Chang Yong Ter of Chang Architects said there are already steps leading to the water along the river and it is “not necessary to replicate the same experience”.

Other proposed changes to make the waterfront more pedestrian-friendly and enhance public spaces in the nearby Civic District have been better received.

At Empress Place, for instance, one aim is to transplant trees, where feasible, to better showcase the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. A series of nodes and smaller spaces within the Esplanade Park will also be created.

Naval architect and heritage buff Jerome Lim, 49, hopes the changes will rejuvenate the vicinity and bring back the crowds.

“There were many attractions then (decades ago) to draw Singaporeans. The sea breeze was one, as were the colourful and lively harbour views and the affordable eating places.”

Conservation architect Lim Huck Chin said the promotional campaign for the waterfront was timely, as public awareness of the site’s rich heritage has diminished over time.

“It’s important that emphasis is given to the social significance of the waterfront in enhancing our collective memory. The human dimension must not be forgotten: It was by sea that most of our forefathers and visitors arrived,” said Mr Lim.

– See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/heritage-waters-edge?page=0%2C1#sthash.KLa0LXYK.dpuf

Hip Stores in Singapore

Hipster decor 101

By now, a decade or so into the movement towards things retro and indie, you might have developed the ability to spot a hipster from miles away.

Buddy Holly geek glasses? Yup. Old-school fixed-gear bicycle? Yup.

Hangin’ out in droves, but careful not to be too much in droves, in cafes of a particular sort? Oh, yeah.

These cafes, like their patrons, often also conform to a certain look. Raw industrial finish, recycled furniture, naked lightbulbs and, of course, a well-placed bicycle or two – for the owners to run errands nearby.

As early as 2010, hipster cafe culture has sprung up in Singapore and has been thriving since. Well-known ones include Papa Palheta now in Tyrwhitt Road, Loysel’s Toy in Kampong Bugis and 40Hands in Yong Siak Street.

They are often fronted by other hipsters – young urbanites who reject consumerism and mass-made products in favour of all things obscure and indie.

With dreams and passion sometimes bigger than their budgets, these cafe owners keep set-up costs down by eschewing fancy fittings. Even torn fabric on a couch can be overlooked, if it saves its new owners $30.

November 8 Coffee & Company’s co-owner Wiltian Ang’s answer to its $10,000 decor budget was simply: “Tight.”

Others that Life! spoke to worked with budgets of between $10,000 and $20,000 to do up their interiors. In true hipster fashion, some owners went the do-it-yourself route.

Hipster cafes often give customers the sense of hanging out at someone’s home, just as their clientele are being inspired to decorate their pads to look like their favourite new old coffee shop.

Life! offers a tongue-in-cheek Hipster Decor 101, with seven must-haves for a credible crib.

natashaz@sph.com.sg

Whimsical

Beyond good food, the hipster cafe must also offer numerous appealing spots for clients to pose for Instagram-able pictures. Cute or whimsical often scores well with the shutter-happy crowd.

Step into The Brew & Bake Company in Clementi and you will feel like a child among your favourite things in this three-month-old, 32-seater cafe.

Sit on diamond-tufted chairs and sofas in primary colours, some of which were brought in from Thailand. A striped awning in the same colours hang over the entrance, as though you are entering a circus or carnival.

Upping the aww-factor, co-owner Louis Huang, 31, has filled display cabinets with toys and figurines, such as Care Bears and My Little Pony. There are also coasters and crocheted rabbit merchandise on sale at between $5 and $38.

Part of the proceeds will be donated to the House Rabbit Society of Singapore.

Mr Huang, a self-taught baker who has a silent partner, says: “It just puts a smile on our customers’ faces when they see such child-like surroundings. They feel like they can chill out.”

And while Kovan is not exactly hipster central, cafe Hatter Street there has diners going down the rabbit hole in its 800 sq ft Alice In Wonderland- themed interiors.

Chef-owner Yvette Chua, who declines to give her age, enlisted the help of interior design firm Pebbletree Designs to conceptualise and draw images on the wall of the two-month-old cafe.

Her older sister, a psychologist, also pitched in to help hand-draw motifs on the wall and a lampshade with Sharpie markers.

Ms Chua, a former teacher at Cedar Girls’ Secondary School, says: “It all started when I wanted the cafe to look like the Mad Hatter had decorated it. But it morphed into a cute version of Alice In Wonderland, with the pink colours.”

Before you leave, snap a shot of the yummy dessert table, lined with artificial grass and decorated with a macaron tree, bird cages and stuffed rabbit toys.

Similarly, La Marelle Cafe & Boutique in Baghdad Street may induce diabetic shock in you, thanks to its saccharine, whimsical decor – from a pink stairway dotted with coloured raindrops to lantern lights.

Find the look: The Brew & Bake Company, 28 Clementi Road, tel: 9235-2276; Hatter Street, 212 Hougang Street 21, 01-333, tel: 6988-4591; and La Marelle Cafe & Boutique, 25A Baghdad Street, tel: 8138-7654

Obscure location

Any hipster joint worth its sea salt, artisanal brew or bespoke cocktail must be well hidden – lest the unhip masses wander in and, gasp, make the place too mainstream.

That is why you must hunt high and low for them in the unlikeliest places: industrial neighbourhoods, warehouses, old sports halls or camouflaged among tour agencies or budget hotels.

The thirsty and hungry must be thrown off the scent further. Hence some have no shop signs or public contact information such as telephone numbers and e-mail addresses, although a Facebook page is a common option.

Wheeler’s Yard is in the industrial estate of Balestier and hidden among factories, while Backstage Cafe is also in a similar area in Kallang. Brawn & Brains is tucked away in the Old Badminton Hall in Kallang.

The folks behind two-month-old coffee house Ronin in Hongkong Street take the cake for being elusive. You need to remember its unit number and hunt for the pillar around the corner of its doors, which has a stencilled sign with “17 HKST”, to give you a hint of its location. Miss the sign and the doors will just look like a mirror. And there is no number to call or a Facebook page to check out.

Find the look: Ronin, 17 Hongkong Street; Wheeler’s Yard, 28 Lorong Ampas, tel: 6254-9128; Backstage Cafe, 158 Kallang Way, 01-06, tel: 6743-6893; and Brawn & Brains, 100 Guillemard Road, 01-07, tel: 9771-1610

Going D-I-Y

The hipster-chic look should not cost much. Why buy a new chair when an old one, at half the price, looks as good as new after a scrub and new upholstery?

The owners of 50-seater cafe Working Title in Arab Street know this. The two best friends, Mr Mustaffa Kamal and Mr Calvin Seah, both 29, stretched their limited budget of about $8,000 by rescuing old furniture and rolling up their sleeves to sand and repaint the pieces.

They salvaged wood from discarded planks, pallets, boards and crates, then sanded and varnished them to create tables.

With no prior know-how, they went online to sites such as YouTube and Pinterest to learn to use tools and paint properly. It was a crash course on how to make furniture, says Mr Seah, who had “never even picked up a saw before this”.

They also scoured used furniture shops to buy items and checked out dumpsters for seats they would refurbish. A prized find was an unwanted powder-blue bench in the Ubi Industrial area. It now has pride of place in the middle of the cafe.

Find the look: Working Title, 48 Arab Street, tel: 9734-4187; November 8 Coffee & Company, Thomson V Two, 11 Sin Ming Road, 01-30, tel: 6554-4388; and Hatter Street, 212 Hougang Street 21, 01-333, tel: 6988-4591

Mismatched

Matchy-matchy is a no-go when it comes to achieving the hipster vibe. No buying of identical chairs in bulk because mismatched ones give off a casual, creative yet devil-may-care attitude.

If you must buy a set, then at least paint them in different colours. Anything that looks too regular or straight off the mass market is anathema.

Different chair styles painted in the same colour help make for a more uniform look, if that is what you desire. Otherwise, go the whole hog and have a bold selection of unique seats at the same table such as those at Cups N Canvas and Working Title.

For individual beauties, rummage around Hock Siong & Co at 153 Kampong Ampat, which sells furniture cast off by hotels in Singapore. The company’s inventory has items such as sofas, lights and silverware. At least three of the seven cafes Life! spoke to had found some of their furniture pieces there.

Or check out dumpsters to yield prized finds, especially in the spring-cleaning lead-up to festive seasons.

Lastly, forget about arranging your mismatched furniture in individual nooks and cosy configurations: Communal is in. Many hipster cafes have long benches at 12-seater tables – all the better to meet and mingle with newfound kindred spirits.

The Marshmallow Tree has a 3m-long, suar wood communal table. The 20-seat eatery mixes wooden benches and vintage pencil-leg chairs too.

Find the look: Working Title, 48 Arab Street, tel: 9734-4187; Cups N Canvas, 139 Selegie Road, tel: 6884-6855; and The Marshmallow Tree, 46 Telok Blangah Drive, 01-85, tel: 9852-1210

Old name, new place

A sick man once walked into this 60- seater cafe in hipster motherland Tiong Bahru and ended up yelling at its owners. He was looking for traditional Chinese medicine to soothe his illness but, instead of ginseng and herbal concoctions, they could offer him only cupcakes and coffee.

Who could blame him, though, given that the place is called The Dispensary and was indeed a traditional Chinese medicine hall in its past life?

The new cafe was started about four months ago by Mr Fred Wee and his wife Claire, both 54, and another partner, Mr Joel Lam, 49. After renting the 2,200 sq ft shop unit last September, with its medicine cabinets and shelving still intact after 10 years of neglect, they decided to build a cafe in it.

They even left the original painted signage on a pillar outside the shop and a wooden sign of the medical hall’s Chinese name inside – taking a leaf from another hipster cafe, Chye Seng Huat Hardware in Tyrwhitt Road, which named itself after the metal and hardware shop that used to be on that street.

Mr Wee, who also owns a cafe in Johor Baru, says: “The name works both ways for us, that people could be mistaken by our identity, but it still draws them in. As long as people are coming by, it works for us.”

These days, the medicine chests behind the counter hold coffee powder. Regular customers can even keep their own beans there.

And never mind that it does not serve any healing herbs. Its classic carrot cake with rich cream cheese frosting ($6) is so good, it is therapeutic.

Find the look: The Dispensary, 69 Tiong Bahru Road, tel: 6536-0225

Industrial, vintage or quaint decor

The naked brick is every hipster’s crush.

A wall of exposed bricks, with visible cement fillers, is the hallmark of the hipster’s lair.

Hipster cafes often use such brick feature walls when designing their spaces. The industrial look has been adapted from Manhattan lofts, where other must-haves include raw, concrete flooring; naked lightbulbs dangling by long looping wires from high ceilings; and exposed piping.

Wood, too, features heavily. The organic material’s grain and patterns as well as dark rich hues go well with concrete walls and floors. At November 8 Coffee & Company in Thomson, owners Shawn Neo, 36, and Wiltian Ang, 32, have paired brick and wood, using the bricks as bench legs and plywood for seat tops.

Mr Neo, who used to run western restaurant Barbacoa in City Square Mall, says of their D-I-Y, exposed-brick aesthetic: “It’s not well done or smooth on purpose.”

Describing the cafe as “a casual hangout and not a high-end restaurant”, he adds: “We don’t want it to be too formal.”

Similarly, Lowercase in McNally Street has a heavy wood influence. The cafe is decorated with industrial pallets and has exposed pipes on the ceiling.

If the industrial look is too harsh, you could opt for a quaint, vintage look, without becoming kitsch or overwhelming visitors with old items.

OZ Specialty Coffee, also in Thomson, has gone for an all-white scheme, making the 291 sq ft cafe look bigger and brighter. With stairs that lead to a tiny storage loft, coffee bags and brewing paraphernalia for sale, and framed pictures of scenery, it has a homely feel. Co-owner Will Leow, 21, who started the cafe with Mr Peh Li Hao, 22, says: “It wasn’t that we were trying to be hipster… We just went with what we liked for the cafe.”

Find the look: November 8 Coffee & Company, Thomson V Two, 11 Sin Ming Road, 01-30, tel: 6554-4388; OZ Specialty Coffee, Thomson V Two, 11 Sin Ming Road, 01-13; and Lowercase, 1 McNally Street, Block D, 01-01, tel: 6337-5581

Retro Singapore

Hipsters love to reminisce eras gone by in which they wish they had been born – preferably in authentically renovated settings. For that reason, the hipster cafe has thrived.

Ripping off grandpa’s style, these cafes recreate the look of Singapore and Malaysian coffee shops of yesteryear.

Case in point: Penang Street. With its Peranakan tiles and metal grilles, the two- month-old cafe opened by Minor Food Group Singapore brings back memories of the 1960s on the laidback Malaysian island.

Similarly, The Dispensary in Tiong Bahru, which opened a few months ago, has kept its history as a Chinese medical hall. Sinpopo, an eatery styled like an old-school coffee shop, is named after a notorious nightclub in Tanjong Katong Road in the 1960s.

And what do hipsters eat on in these cafes? Why, enamel crockery, of course – while they graze on suitably old-school decor items.

Cafe owners found the ubiquitous, classic enamelware – pale yellow, blue, green or pink, rimmed in dark blue; mostly made in China – after scouring mom-and-pop shops in Tanjong Katong and Joo Chiat. There are also flower- and animal-motif enamelware and all come in different sizes and depths. They can cost from 80 cents for a small plate to $5 for bigger ones.

To dig up vintage paraphernalia to replicate the hipster cafe look, a pilgrimage to Bangkok is a must.

Sweat it out in flea markets to unearth gems such as vintage transistor radios and television sets.

Check out Rod Fai Market, an open-air bazaar beside an abandoned railroad track, or Ratchada Night Bazaar, at the junction of Ladprao Road and Rachadapisek Road, where you will easily find old records, an old dentist chair or a vintage scooter.

Find the look: Penang Street, 1 Lower Kent Ridge Road, One@KentRidge, National University Hospital Medical Centre, 01-09 and 01-19/20, tel: 6334-6023; The Dispensary, 69 Tiong Bahru Road, tel: 6536-0225; and Sinpopo, 458 Joo Chiat Road, tel: 6345-5034

– See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/plush/hipster-decor-101#sthash.vCbFijgj.dpuf

Everton Park: Quirky meets Quaint

The Everton Park residential district is shedding its sleepy image. In recent years, hipster joints have popped up in the ageing Housing Board estate in Outram. Older stalwarts in the neighbourhood include pre-war Peranakan shophouses and the conserved building of an old Methodist school. Life!Weekend tells you the nooks and corners to check out.

1 Strangers’ Reunion
Start your morning right with an intricate cup of coffee at this 80-seater cafe, which opened in March 2012.

It is not just hearts and palm trees dotted on your java. Here, latte art is serious business: rosettas, multi-layered tulips, flaming hearts and spiders on your coffee ($3.50-$5.50).

Owner Ryan Tan, 28, began his love affair with coffee while working at coffee houses in Melbourne, when he was studying economics and finance as an undergraduate in the city.

He is also Singapore’s current barista champion.

Where: 33/35/37 Kampong Bahru Road
Open: 9am to 10pm daily, till midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, closed on Tuesdays
Info: Call 6222-4869

2 Guan Antique
Step into this treasure trove crammed with thousands of Peranakan antiques.Step into this treasure trove crammed with thousands of Peranakan antiques.

Owner Ng Ah Choon, 57, has been running the store since 1989, a step up from collecting used items in his house and selling them to antique shops.

The goods, he says, came mostly from the upheaval in the Bugis and Bukit Timah areas in the 1970s, as residents and shopkeepers resettled elsewhere and threw away their belongings. He has loaned antiques to the set of popular home-grown television drama The Little Nyonya (2008).

One man’s junk is clearly another’s treasure: His shop is stuffed with dusty display cabinets chock-full of Straits Chinese beaded slippers and nonya ware such as kamcheng (a type of container used for storing and serving food), tea sets and trays.

Stowed away by the side are several ting kong lanterns, usually hung prominently above door plaques in worship to the Taoist deity Jade Emperor. There are also intricately carved religious figurines such as those of Bodhisattva Guanyin, also known as the Goddess of Mercy, and Taoist deity Ji Gong, an irreverent monk with a magic fan known for helping the people in need. Prices range from $5 for a cup to “hundreds of thousands of dollars” for furniture and Nonya porcelain, he says. Prices are negotiable. “Young people now like to collect old things,”says Mr Ng.

Where: 31 Kampong Bahru Road
Open: 11am to 7pm daily
Info: Call 6226-2281

3 NUS Baba House and 147 Neil Road
This pre-war shophouse turned museum was once the ancestral home of a Straits Chinese family. It tells the story of Peranakan culture through a domestic space, including the furnishings, household items and decor.

Nearby, house number 147 was the home of Lee Hoon Leong, the grandfather of Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew. Mr Lee lived in the house for a few years with his grandfather and parents.

The back lanes of Blair, Everton and Spottiswoode Park roads form a web of more Peranakan shophouses.

See if you can spot motifs of birds, peacocks and flowers, which are traditional symbols of fertility, amid the door frames, arches and floor tiles outside the lovely homes.

Chinese stone lions, a male and a female, can also be seen in front of some doors. The male lion is usually on the left with his right paw resting on a ball, and the female on the right with her left paw fondling a cub. These are believed to ward off evil spirits.

4 Old St Matthew’s Church and the former Fairfield Methodist Girls’ School
The Neil Road area was a nutmeg plantation till the late 1850s. It had its name changed in March 1858 from Salat Road, meaning straits in Malay, to honour one of the British heroes in the 1857 Indian Mutiny.

The church was built for the use of British seamen and prison wardens living in nearby Outram Road.

Close by, the former campus of Fairfield Methodist Girls’ School stands apart from the rest of the buildings in the vicinity with its classic whitewashed Victorian architecture, including high arches and timber framed doors.

The school was started in 1888 in Cross Street by Australian missionary Sophia Blackmore. It moved to its Neil Road location in 1913. In 1983, the school moved to Dover Road. The Home Team Career Centre now resides in the Neil Road building.

5 The Provision Shop
Stop for lunch at The Provision Shop, a 30-seat joint that screams retro chic with its distressed tables and stools, filament lamps, a toilet door salvaged from Tiong Bahru heritage wonton mee shop Hua Bee and even a used Milo tin hanging overhead, a la the dried sundry stores of old.

It is part of the Unlisted Collection stable of boutique hotels and eateries founded by hotelier Loh Lik Peng.

Head chef Anthony Yeoh (right), 32, who is also behind the group’s Cocotte restaurant at Wanderlust hotel in Little India, does a hearty Reuben sandwich crammed with corned beef, sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese. Another must-try is the Belinda’s Perogis, traditional Polish dumpling stuffed with mashed potatoes and ricotta cheese.

Round off your meal with Maldon sea salt vanilla or blackforest ice cream.

Prices range between $2.50 and $18.

Where: 3 Everton Park, 01-79
Open: 11am to 9pm daily, 9am to 6pm on Sundays
Info: Call 6225-9931

6 Grin Affair
This tiny three-year-old nook does pretty dessert layers in jars.

Owner Leslie Ang, 27, who runs the shop with his younger sister Jody, 23, started the shop in the area because of fond memories of the Everton Park estate – they have been visiting their 80-year-old grandmother there since they were children.

Try the siblings’ creations, such as Caramel ($6), a caramel mousse with baked crust and vanilla; Banoffee ($6), made of banana slices on coffee cake, with baked crust and pecans; and

the Lychee Passion ($6.50), a lychee mousse with passion fruit puree on vanilla cake, topped with sea salt pistachio.

Where: 3 Everton Park, 01-77A
Open: Noon to 8pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays, noon to 6pm, Sundays and public holidays
Info: Call 8222-2678. Delivery to downtown locations is free

7 The Audacious Cakery and Ji Xiang Confectionery
Stop by The Audacious Cakery, a 700 sq ft deli opened by Ms Sharryl Charmaine Ng, 36, a former market research director, and bring home a goodie bag of sweets.

She set up her shop in the Everton Park estate, poohpoohing other locations such as Waterloo Street and Upper East Coast Road, in favour of the area’s rent – about $3,000 a month, which she feels is still affordable – and vibe of old and new.

Try her cupcakes in various flavours such as lemon raspberry, Irish cream, matcha and strawberry daiquiri from $3.50 each.

The Audacious Cakery
Where: 2 Everton Park, 01-61
When: 10am to 7pm daily, closed on Sundays
Info: Call 6223-3047

If you are looking for something a little more old school, head to Ji Xiang Confectionery, which sells ang ku kueh (red glutinous rice cake) in flavours such as yam, peanut, salty and sweet bean, coconut and sweet corn for 70 cents each.

Mrs Toh Bong Yeo, 61, has been selling the pastry, moulded to resemble a tortoise shell as a symbol of longevity, since 1988 – after years of experimenting in her kitchen and having house guests compliment her on her creations.

The influx of hipster joints does not faze her, she says. “They do modern cakes, we do traditional cakes – we are totally different and it does not clash at all.”

Ji Xiang Confectionery
Where: 1 Everton Park, 01-33
When: 9am to 5pm daily, closed on Sundays
Info: Call 6223-163

8 Kian Tat Hang
Stop for a drink and chat with Mr Tan Kian Tong, a friendly neighbourhood old-timer who owns Kian Tat Hang, a 30-year-old provision store.

Mr Tan, 79, used to sell ice cream for 20 cents a pop to schoolgirls attending the nearby Fairfield Methodist Girls’ School. Today, he stocks just about 10 items on two shelves in his 1,300 sq ft space – mostly soft drinks, tinned food and packets of sugar.

Customers are few, he says, usually passers-by looking to buy a drink, but he does not intend to fill up his shop with more stock.

As a result of the buzz in the area, he has received offers to sell or rent out his space. But his answer is no.

“Before, no one wanted to come to this area, but now, the landscape here has changed and become more popular,” he says.

Where: 2 Everton Park 01-47
Info: Call 6222-7930

 

9 Pinnacle@Duxton
Get a bird’s eye view of the city from the 50th storey of the Pinnacle@Duxton from a skybridge.

The five-year-old complex lies on the land where the first two Housing Board blocks in the area were built. It is the first 50-storey public housing project in Singapore, with more than 1,800 apartments in seven blocks.

Where: 1 Cantonment Road
Open: The skybridge is open from 9am to 10pm daily Admission: $5
Info: Go to http://www.pinnacleduxton.com.sg/skybridge_public.php. Only 200 members of the public can access the skybridge daily

10 Jotter Book
If you see vintage bicycles perched prettily outside some of the shops in the estate, they belong to this store.

Jotter Book, opened by Mr Clive Chow, 43, in July last year, carries Papillionaire bikes, a cult brand from Australia. Other shopkeepers help to display the bikes to add to the hipster feel of the estate and to give his store “free marketing”, he says.

His shop is well placed to attract residents, students and corporate types for its “almost there” proximity to the Central Business District, he says.

“On Saturdays, lots of cafegoers come to the area and it is nice to catch them in a relaxed mood,” he adds. The bikes cost between $962 and $1,020 each.

Where: 5 Everton Park, 01-22
Open: 11am to 7pm daily, closed on Sundays
Info: Call 9730-80

11 The Redundant Shop
This two-month-old shop stocks stylish “junk” – things you do not need but want to have, says Mr Watson Lee, 44, who runs the shop. He is alsobehind The Redundant Magazine, which started the store after readers asked where they could find the stuff they read about.

The 1,000 sq ft store carries local labels such as Ang Ku Kueh Girl, MandyT Skincare and oonHung, as well as KibiSi from Denmark and Geneva Sound from Switzerland. It curates products based on six categories: architectural, design, gadgets, rides, culture and style.

Prices range from $3.50 for a greeting card to about $2,000 for an electric scooter. Check out its weekend craft workshops on making origami cards, silk screen printing and making leather wallets, among other things.

Mr Lee is part of a community of Everton Park shopkeepers who are banding together to market the housing estate as a place to visit and they have plans to run a Facebook page and a guidebook to the area.

Where: 5 Everton Park, 01-22A
Open: 11am to 8pm daily, closed on Mondays
Info: Call 6707-2005 or go to http://www.redundantshop.com.sg

– See more at: http://www.soshiok.com/content/quirky-meets-quaint/page/0/2#sthash.KNBA1hvr.dpuf

The Everton Park residential district is shedding its sleepy image. In recent years, hipster joints have popped up in the ageing Housing Board estate in Outram. Older stalwarts in the neighbourhood include pre-war Peranakan shophouses and the conserved building of an old Methodist school. Life!Weekend tells you the nooks and corners to check out.

1 Strangers’ Reunion
Start your morning right with an intricate cup of coffee at this 80-seater cafe, which opened in March 2012.

It is not just hearts and palm trees dotted on your java. Here, latte art is serious business: rosettas, multi-layered tulips, flaming hearts and spiders on your coffee ($3.50-$5.50).

Owner Ryan Tan, 28, began his love affair with coffee while working at coffee houses in Melbourne, when he was studying economics and finance as an undergraduate in the city.

He is also Singapore’s current barista champion.

Where: 33/35/37 Kampong Bahru Road
Open: 9am to 10pm daily, till midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, closed on Tuesdays
Info: Call 6222-4869

2 Guan Antique
Step into this treasure trove crammed with thousands of Peranakan antiques.Step into this treasure trove crammed with thousands of Peranakan antiques.

Owner Ng Ah Choon, 57, has been running the store since 1989, a step up from collecting used items in his house and selling them to antique shops.

The goods, he says, came mostly from the upheaval in the Bugis and Bukit Timah areas in the 1970s, as residents and shopkeepers resettled elsewhere and threw away their belongings. He has loaned antiques to the set of popular home-grown television drama The Little Nyonya (2008).

One man’s junk is clearly another’s treasure: His shop is stuffed with dusty display cabinets chock-full of Straits Chinese beaded slippers and nonya ware such as kamcheng (a type of container used for storing and serving food), tea sets and trays.

Stowed away by the side are several ting kong lanterns, usually hung prominently above door plaques in worship to the Taoist deity Jade Emperor. There are also intricately carved religious figurines such as those of Bodhisattva Guanyin, also known as the Goddess of Mercy, and Taoist deity Ji Gong, an irreverent monk with a magic fan known for helping the people in need. Prices range from $5 for a cup to “hundreds of thousands of dollars” for furniture and Nonya porcelain, he says. Prices are negotiable. “Young people now like to collect old things,”says Mr Ng.

Where: 31 Kampong Bahru Road
Open: 11am to 7pm daily
Info: Call 6226-2281

3 NUS Baba House and 147 Neil Road
This pre-war shophouse turned museum was once the ancestral home of a Straits Chinese family. It tells the story of Peranakan culture through a domestic space, including the furnishings, household items and decor.

Nearby, house number 147 was the home of Lee Hoon Leong, the grandfather of Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew. Mr Lee lived in the house for a few years with his grandfather and parents.

The back lanes of Blair, Everton and Spottiswoode Park roads form a web of more Peranakan shophouses.

See if you can spot motifs of birds, peacocks and flowers, which are traditional symbols of fertility, amid the door frames, arches and floor tiles outside the lovely homes.

Chinese stone lions, a male and a female, can also be seen in front of some doors. The male lion is usually on the left with his right paw resting on a ball, and the female on the right with her left paw fondling a cub. These are believed to ward off evil spirits.

4 Old St Matthew’s Church and the former Fairfield Methodist Girls’ School
The Neil Road area was a nutmeg plantation till the late 1850s. It had its name changed in March 1858 from Salat Road, meaning straits in Malay, to honour one of the British heroes in the 1857 Indian Mutiny.

The church was built for the use of British seamen and prison wardens living in nearby Outram Road.

Close by, the former campus of Fairfield Methodist Girls’ School stands apart from the rest of the buildings in the vicinity with its classic whitewashed Victorian architecture, including high arches and timber framed doors.

The school was started in 1888 in Cross Street by Australian missionary Sophia Blackmore. It moved to its Neil Road location in 1913. In 1983, the school moved to Dover Road. The Home Team Career Centre now resides in the Neil Road building.

– See more at: http://www.soshiok.com/content/quirky-meets-quaint#sthash.DCdTdIQG.dpuf

Enter Everton Park: hipster enclave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nestled in a neighbourhood near the Central Business District is an area quietly becoming the next hipster enclave.

In the past few years, the Everton Park Housing Board estate has become home to coffee joints, cake shops and independent furnishing shops which have set up at its void decks.

Many have been drawn to the peaceful 50-year-old estate as it boasts rents up to a third lower than trendy areas nearby such as Tiong Bahru, Duxton and Ann Siang Hill.

The cluster of seven blocks off Neil Road is a short drive from the city, and young working adults are the main customers at its food and beverage spots such as Nylon Coffee Roasters, the Batterworks bakery and gourmet deli The Provision Shop.

One of the newest additions, which opened three weeks ago, is The Redundant Shop.

It sells a range of lifestyle products from vintage-style bicycles to stationery and bags.

Owner Watson Lee, 43, said: “Everton Park is a good area as it attracts working adults who come here for coffee and people who appreciate independent brands.”

Some business owners in the area are reluctant to label it “the new Tiong Bahru”, not least because of the effect it might have on rental prices.

Savills Singapore research head Alan Cheong said that Everton Park’s rents are likely to go up gradually, but not at the heady rates that landlords in other areas are charging.

Monthly rates for shop spaces in trendy areas like Tiong Bahru and Ann Siang Hill can go up to $6.50 per sq ft (psf), compared to $4 to $5 psf in Everton Park.

However, Mr Cheong said: “In Singapore, rents don’t stay low for too long, especially with all the activity and plans to revive Tanjong Pagar.”

High overheads deterred Ms Sharryl Ng from setting up shop in Joo Chiat or Tiong Bahru. Instead, the 36-year-old launched her dessert cafe and cake shop, The Audacious Cakery, at Block 2, Everton Park, last September.

She said the area caught her eye for its “interesting mix of new and old shops” that draw more people to visit and cafe hop.

She added: “Hopefully, it will be as vibrant and interesting as Tiong Bahru, but without its high rentals.”

Ms Fang Yan, 42, who opened Cozy Corner Coffee at Block 4 in April last year, said: “It is quieter than Tiong Bahru, but the rent here is not as high, and there are too many cafes there.”

Just Want Coffee cafe manager Shaun Chua, 25, said Everton Park has “a nice vibe”.

“It is off the grid and not saturated with coffee places and cafes,” he said.

Owners of older shops in the estate do not mind the newcomers as they seem to be bringing more customers to the area.

“Everyone is selling a variety of things,” said Mr Toh Poh Seek, 65, owner of Ji Xiang Confectionery, which has been serving ang ku kueh (glutinous rice cake) at Block 1, Everton Park, for 28 years.

“We are selling snacks, not coffee, so we are not affected,” he said.

Business has also been unaffected at Everton Food Place, the estate’s only foodcourt.

Prawn noodle stall owner Goh Seng Boon, 37, who has been there for 14 years, said: “It is better because I see more young people here, and it is more lively.”

He is also on “good terms” with some cafes, he added, as he buys coffee twice a week from Nylon Coffee Roasters.

Cafe owners also visit the food centre to eat.

Ms Rachael Leong, 26, a lawyer, discovered Everton Park last month, and has already been back three times.

She calls it a “little silent sanctuary”, though she added: “It seems like it is becoming the next Tiong Bahru. I hope it doesn’t.”

Law firm trainee Joey Pang, 31, who lives at The Pinnacle @Duxton and visits Everton Park’s cafes every week, said: “At night, past 8pm, it is quite dead, unlike Tiong Bahru.”

Medical social worker Lin Xueming, 25, who lives in an Everton Road shophouse, finds the air-conditioned cafes more conducive for meetings.

But he added that older residents keep their distance from these new outlets and prefer to spend their time at the coffee shop or nearby fitness corner.

Ms Jody Ang, 23, co-owner of cake-in-a-jar shop A Grin Affair at Block 3, chose the location in 2011 for sentimental reasons.

“I grew up here,” she said. “It would be nice if this place remained quaint as it is. I wouldn’t want it to change.”

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/the-big-story/case-you-missed-it/story/everton-park-the-next-hipster-enclave-20140105#sthash.sQ35jnAO.dpuf

Nestled in a neighbourhood near the Central Business District is an area quietly becoming the next hipster enclave.

In the past few years, the Everton Park Housing Board estate has become home to coffee joints, cake shops and independent furnishing shops which have set up at its void decks.

Many have been drawn to the peaceful 50-year-old estate as it boasts rents up to a third lower than trendy areas nearby such as Tiong Bahru, Duxton and Ann Siang Hill.

The cluster of seven blocks off Neil Road is a short drive from the city, and young working adults are the main customers at its food and beverage spots such as Nylon Coffee Roasters, the Batterworks bakery and gourmet deli The Provision Shop.

One of the newest additions, which opened three weeks ago, is The Redundant Shop.

It sells a range of lifestyle products from vintage-style bicycles to stationery and bags.

Owner Watson Lee, 43, said: “Everton Park is a good area as it attracts working adults who come here for coffee and people who appreciate independent brands.”

Some business owners in the area are reluctant to label it “the new Tiong Bahru”, not least because of the effect it might have on rental prices.

Savills Singapore research head Alan Cheong said that Everton Park’s rents are likely to go up gradually, but not at the heady rates that landlords in other areas are charging.

Monthly rates for shop spaces in trendy areas like Tiong Bahru and Ann Siang Hill can go up to $6.50 per sq ft (psf), compared to $4 to $5 psf in Everton Park.

However, Mr Cheong said: “In Singapore, rents don’t stay low for too long, especially with all the activity and plans to revive Tanjong Pagar.”

High overheads deterred Ms Sharryl Ng from setting up shop in Joo Chiat or Tiong Bahru. Instead, the 36-year-old launched her dessert cafe and cake shop, The Audacious Cakery, at Block 2, Everton Park, last September.

She said the area caught her eye for its “interesting mix of new and old shops” that draw more people to visit and cafe hop.

She added: “Hopefully, it will be as vibrant and interesting as Tiong Bahru, but without its high rentals.”

Ms Fang Yan, 42, who opened Cozy Corner Coffee at Block 4 in April last year, said: “It is quieter than Tiong Bahru, but the rent here is not as high, and there are too many cafes there.”

Just Want Coffee cafe manager Shaun Chua, 25, said Everton Park has “a nice vibe”.

“It is off the grid and not saturated with coffee places and cafes,” he said.

Owners of older shops in the estate do not mind the newcomers as they seem to be bringing more customers to the area.

“Everyone is selling a variety of things,” said Mr Toh Poh Seek, 65, owner of Ji Xiang Confectionery, which has been serving ang ku kueh (glutinous rice cake) at Block 1, Everton Park, for 28 years.

“We are selling snacks, not coffee, so we are not affected,” he said.

Business has also been unaffected at Everton Food Place, the estate’s only foodcourt.

Prawn noodle stall owner Goh Seng Boon, 37, who has been there for 14 years, said: “It is better because I see more young people here, and it is more lively.”

He is also on “good terms” with some cafes, he added, as he buys coffee twice a week from Nylon Coffee Roasters.

Cafe owners also visit the food centre to eat.

Ms Rachael Leong, 26, a lawyer, discovered Everton Park last month, and has already been back three times.

She calls it a “little silent sanctuary”, though she added: “It seems like it is becoming the next Tiong Bahru. I hope it doesn’t.”

Law firm trainee Joey Pang, 31, who lives at The Pinnacle @Duxton and visits Everton Park’s cafes every week, said: “At night, past 8pm, it is quite dead, unlike Tiong Bahru.”

Medical social worker Lin Xueming, 25, who lives in an Everton Road shophouse, finds the air-conditioned cafes more conducive for meetings.

But he added that older residents keep their distance from these new outlets and prefer to spend their time at the coffee shop or nearby fitness corner.

Ms Jody Ang, 23, co-owner of cake-in-a-jar shop A Grin Affair at Block 3, chose the location in 2011 for sentimental reasons.

“I grew up here,” she said. “It would be nice if this place remained quaint as it is. I wouldn’t want it to change.”

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/the-big-story/case-you-missed-it/story/everton-park-the-next-hipster-enclave-20140105#sthash.sQ35jnAO.dpuf

BT: Non-residential deals to remain active

http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/specials/property/non-residential-deals-remain-active-h2-20140715

Non-residential deals will continue to drive investment activity in Singapore for the rest of this year, given faltering sales in the tepid private residential market, DTZ said in a report yesterday.

The report found that overall real estate investments fell around 11 per cent from the previous quarter to $4.4 billion in Q2.

And although non-residential investments (particularly offices) drove the volume, they too fell 6 per cent to $2.9 billion on muted transactions in the hospitality and mixed-use sectors.

At least six big-ticket non-residential property deals were concluded in Q2.

In the commercial sector, three office properties – Prudential Tower, Equity Plaza and Cecil House – all along Cecil Street in the central business district, were transacted. A consortium of Far East Organization, Far East Orchard and Sekisui House also beat seven others in a government land sales tender to clinch a 99-year-leasehold commercial site on Woodlands Avenue 5/Woodlands Square for $634 million.

In retail, Frasers Centrepoint Trust acquired Changi City Point at Changi Business Park for $305 million; in Industrial, Ascendas Reit bought Hyflux Innovation Centre at 80 Bendemeer Road for $191 million.

The transactions in Q2 brought the total investment volume in the first half of 2014 to $9.4 billion, 17 per cent lower than the same period last year. It also looks on track to achieve the earlier forecast of $20-25 billion for the full year.

Property companies and real estate investment trusts (Reits) were the main drivers of activity in Q2. Property companies were the largest buyers, accounting for $3.1 billion or 71 per cent of investment activity.

Reits were also very active, but their divestments of $512 million exceeded their acquisitions of $496 million, making them net sellers in Q2. This is expected to reverse in Q3, though. Acquisitions are likely to be boosted by the listing of Frasers Hospitality Trust.

The trust’s initial portfolio will comprise six hotels and six serviced residences, including two – InterContinental Singapore and Fraser Suites Singapore – located in Singapore. Both will be injected for a combined value of $824.1 million.

Swee Shou Fern, DTZ’s director of investment advisory services, expects Reit and developer acquisitions to continue supporting investment activity going forward.

“As global real estate markets start to improve, investors and funds are becoming more positive about the performance of the real estate . . . market. This could see them increasing their allocations to real estate and Singapore could benefit, being one of the most liquid markets in the region,” she said.

A Colliers report released last week turned up similar findings and projected similar trends.

It blamed the slump in residential investment sales on “the double whammy of frail investor interests in en bloc and strata-titled properties, as well as anaemic developers’ quest for land acquisition via collective sales”.

“In the next six months of the year, sales emanating from (government) land sales are forecast to stay subdued. On the private sector front, the collective sales market will likely remain depressed as the same factors that have kept it at a standstill will continue to play out in the months ahead,” it projects.

The consultancy expects interest in commercial properties to gather pace, backed by a steadily recovering office rental market.

“In addition, small and mid-sized family offices or single family offices are increasingly shifting their asset allocation towards property-oriented investments, particularly that of good quality office buildings that have potential upside in yield and capital appreciation. More of such deals can be expected to be sealed in the coming quarters,” it said.

Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall returns with grandiose

After a $158-million refurbishment that took more than four years, Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall have emerged as a practically brand new grand dame.

The two buildings are now integrated into one seamless space with the venues retaining the intimacy and old-world charm generations of theatre- and concert-goers remember. It also promises to fill the gap for medium-sized performance art venues here.

On a media tour last week, architects Mok Wei Wei and Ng Weng Pan of W Architects Pte Ltd pointed not just to newly-improved spaces but also highlighted the special care taken to retain several old architectural elements.

For instance, artisans were flown in from South India to work on pillar carvings while several elements from the earlier theatre have been re-used. Old chairs have been recycled and mounted on the foyer wall instead of being thrown away, resulting in what looks like an installation art work.

When the doors finally re-open on July 15 with a Singapore Symphony Orchestra performance, audience members will step into a theatre that retains its sense of grandeur as well as its original spirit. From the Old Parliament Lane side, the central atrium’s high transparent ceiling channels stunning views of the clock tower.

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/theatre-dance/story/interactive-360-panorama-victoria-theatre-and-concert-hall#sthash.WsA6E61l.dpuf