Category Archives: Rochor-Kallang

Rochor River, Rochor Bugis, Kallang River, Little India, Jalan Besar

Burlington Square


Address: 175 Bencoolen Street
Type of Development: Apartment / Commercial
Tenure: 99 years
District: 07
No. of Units: 179
Year of Completion: 1998
Developer: Wintrust Investment Pte Ltd (WingTai)
Unit sizes:
Studio: 667 sq ft
2 bedrooms: 861 – 990 sq ft
3 bedrooms: 1,119 – 1,350 sq ft
Penthouse: 3,035 sq ft

Burlington Square is primarily used for Office rental and sale. Burlington Square is close to Bugis MRT Station (EW12) and Bras Basah MRT Station (CC2). Upcoming new MRT station Rochor Station (DT13) will be less than 2 minutes walking distance from it.

It is near to several bus stops located opposite Burlington Square – 07517, after Sim Lim Square – 07531 and at Fortune Centre – 07518.


Condo Facilities at Burlington Square

Facilities are full and include covered car park, 24 hours security, swimming pools, BBQ pits, gym, tennis courts, steam bath, and a multi-purpose hall. Some units have roof gardens and there is also a communal viewing terrace that offers residents an outstanding view of the city skyline.


Amenities Burlington Square

Reputable schools such as Laselle College of the Arts and Singapore Management University are both within walking distances.

Cinema, restaurants and eating establishments, supermarkets, and shops are located at the nearby Bugis Junction Shopping Centre. Residents can go to the neighboring Sim Lim Square for a range of computer and electronic products at competitive prices.

Numerous other restaurants and eating establishments are scattered around the development. In addition, there are numerous pubs and bars located at Selegie Road, which is a stone’s throw away. Burlington Square has several eateries located within its buildings such as Café Lyubi Menya and Burger King Fast Food Restaurant.

Attractions like Fort Canning Park and Little India are just around the corner and interested residents can scour through the huge collection of books and electronic media available at the nearby 7-storey Singapore National Library.

For vehicle owners, travelling to the business hub and the buzzing Orchard Road shopping belt takes about 5 minutes, via Victoria Street and Bukit Timah Road respectively.

Burlington Square is within reasonable distance to NTUC Fairprice Supermarket. It is also an array of amenities such as grocery, retail shopping, banks and more.

Burlington Square is accessible via Bencoolen Street, Rochor Road and Jalan Besar.



Textile Centre

TC shop details2



Address: 200, Jalan Sultan, 199018
Type of Development: Commercial (Office/Retail)
Tenure: 99 years
District: 07
Year of Completion: 1974

Textile Centre is primarily used for Office rental and sale. Textile Centre is close to Nicoll Highway MRT (CC5) and Lavender MRT (EW11). It is near to several bus stops located at Jalan Sultan, Sultan Plaza – 01239, Jalan Sultan, Opp Textile Centre – 01231, Beach Road, Jalan Sultan Complex – 01411 and Beach Road, Saint John Headquarter – 01419.

Amenities near Textile Centre

Textile Centre is also within walking distance to the stretch of eateries and restaurants located at Jalan Sultan. Residents can head down to the nearby Bugis Junction shopping mall for amenities such as supermarkets, restaurants, banks, cinema, boutique shops, and more.

Textile Centre is within reasonable distance to Shop N Save, Cold Storage, Sheng Siong and I-Tec Supermarkets. It is also close to The Concourse Shopping Mall, Golden Landmark Shopping Complex, Sim Lim Tower, Bugis Point, Fu Lu Shou Complex, Parco Bugis Junction and Albert Complex.

Textile Centre is accessible via Jalan Sultan and North Bridge Road.

A few feeder bus services are available near Textile Centre. It is also close to several schools, such as Singapore Management University(SMU), Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts(NAFA), and Laselle College of Fine Arts.

For vehicle owners, driving from Textile Centre to either the business hub or the buzzing Orchard Road shopping district takes just above 10 minutes, via North Bridge Road and Bencoolen Street respectively.

Kallang Riverside Transformation via Bus Firm

AS A young man visiting his father’s Kampong Bugis factory in the late 1970s, Mr Lee Kin Hong would watch the comings and goings of boats on the water.

“There were timber logs flowing down the Kallang River,” the soft-spoken man recounts.

“They built sampans and tongkangs (a type of wooden boat) nearby. There was a bustling trade in boats… it was quite messy.”

The boatmakers’ huts have since vanished and the timber merchants no longer ply that route.

And Mr Lee, 60, has taken over as managing director of his father’s firm, Singapore-Johore Express (SJE). Set up in 1947, SJE operates buses to Malaysia.

The family’s Singapore-Johore Factory still stands, but not for long. The Lees plan to redevelop it into a new 30-storey condominium called Kallang Riverside.

The eight-storey building was built around 1978 to house bus maintenance services, but is now used mainly by short-term tenants as a warehouse.

Mr Lee told The Straits Times earlier this week at the condo’s newly-built showflat that he plans to begin tearing down the factory by the end of this year.

In its place will be a 212-unit condo that will have an “open concept… when you move in it will feel like a park. We want it to merge into the garden”.

There will be seven shops on the ground level, he said, adding that there are plans for an infinity pool on the 24th floor, offering a view of Marina Bay Sands and the new Sports Hub.

Mr Lee plans to sell units at about $1,900 to $2,350 per sq ft (psf), though he added that without the property market cooling measures, he would have priced it at around $3,000 psf.

It is expected to be completed in 2019.

Although the building plan for Kallang Riverside was formally approved only in March, plans to redevelop the site have been on the drawing board for nearly two decades.

The Singapore-Johore Factory was built in Kampong Bugis because that was near the bus terminal at Ban San Street in Bugis, where the Singapore-Johore Express buses would stop, he said.

When SJE moved its bus maintenance depot to Sin Ming in the 1980s, the factory was rented out to an array of tenants.

“We had printers, shoemakers… glassmakers, (those making) textiles. Even boilermakers. Most were related to retail activities in the city.”

In the early 1990s, SJE wanted to refurbish the factory and build an extension. But when they sought approval from the authorities, “the matter was delayed for some time”, he said. “They told us they were going to relook the concept plan for Kampong Bugis.”

Mr Lee then found out from government land planners in 1994 that his family’s freehold plot at 51 Kampong Bugis was to be rezoned from industrial to residential land.

SJE thus had to submit a new plan to build a residential development on the land parcel. It refined it “countless times” over two decades in discussion with various government agencies.

Its plan was finally approved in principle last year, before the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s draft masterplan was released. The masterplan earmarked Kampong Bugis, bounded by Kallang Road and Crawford Street, as a residential and lifestyle district.

Kallang Riverside will technically be SJE’s maiden residential project, but Mr Lee said the firm’s sister company, Melodies, is developing the 41-unit Riverside Melodies at St Michael’s Road. Melodies also developed the 72-unit Cassia View at Guillemard Road, completed in 1998. Both projects are freehold.

Dried Goods Centre: Victoria Wholesale Centre & Albert Centre

Straits Times 17 Jan 2014

The Victoria Wholesale Centre is slowly experiencing a rebound in business since it relocated from Bugis to Kallang Avenue almost two years ago.

Gone are the hordes of tourists who used to wander into the previously bustling centre in Bugis, attracted by the array of dried goods on display there.

Like its predecessor, the new centre boasts a wide selection of goods, ranging from dried fish stomach and dried Chinese sausages to almonds and tidbits, all housed under one roof.

But its location – half an hour’s walk from the nearest MRT station – is more inaccessible and attracts far fewer walk-in customers. When The Straits Times visited it on Wednesday, only a few shops had a steady flow of customers. But merchants said business has been slowly picking up, thanks to their loyal customers.

In March 2012, some 23 of the 40 merchants in the old Victoria Street Wholesale Centre moved to the eight-storey centre in Kallang Avenue, which is tucked inside an industrial estate, after they pooled resources and took bank loans to build it.

The previous site had to make way for the construction of the North-South Expressway, which is expected to be completed in 2020.

The old location was just a few minutes’ walk from Bugis MRT Station. But it now takes at least 10 minutes on foot to get to the new centre from the nearest bus stop.

At De Cheng Xin Xing Trading, the majority of its customers are regulars.

“Business at the old place was different,” said its director, Mr Andrew Goh, 37, the third-generation owner of a family business selling dried goods and high-end products such as bird’s nest and abalone.

“There used to be many passers-by who walked in and we made a lot of petty-cash sales. Now, there is no huge crowd.”

To boost business, the centre is providing visitors with a free shuttle bus service to and from Kallang MRT station, from Jan 3 to 28 daily, in time for the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Some merchants, such as Ah Pau Chop’s 58-year-old owner, Madam Chua Soo Cheng, are hoping that the service will be permanent.

Despite the inconvenience, merchants said their long-time customers, who hail from as far as Bukit Timah, go to their shops because of the personalised service.

“A lot of shops (elsewhere) sell the same things, but here, we let customers try the goods and tell them how to cook and store the ingredients,” said Madam Chua, who has been in the business for 40 years. “The customers trust us. Otherwise, they wouldn’t come back.”

Retiree Soh Mui Wah, who was shopping there, agreed. “At De Cheng, I can sample the abalones so I know what’s inside the can, how big the abalones are and whether they taste good,” she said.

Mrs Catherine Wong, 71, a retired office administrator who lives in Bukit Timah, bought $160 worth of goods such as cashew nuts and dried shrimps.

“There are a lot of choices here,” she said. “I think we save about 15 per cent by buying the goods here.”

It was, however, a different scene at another wholesale centre. On the third floor of Albert Centre at Queen Street, there was barely any space to walk along the narrow aisles when The Straits Times visited the centre, located near the famous Guan Yin temple and shopping haven Bugis Street.

Shopfronts were packed with rows of clear plastic bags filled with dried goods and snacks, such as lotus seeds, peanuts, almonds and pistachios.

Shoppers, mostly middle-aged women, jostled to do their Chinese New Year shopping. Many dipped their hands into the bags to try the snacks before making their purchases.

One of the more popular shops was Tan Sum Joo Provision Shop. Owner Willian Tan, 59, said he has been running the business for more than 30 years, but declined to be interviewed because he was busy.

Ms Pinky Chear, a 24-year-old Malaysian hairstylist who works in Singapore, said her family would ask her to buy snacks from the shops and take them back to her home town in Perak. “It’s popular among my relatives because they said the stuff is fresher here.”

Customers said while the goods sold at Albert Centre can be found in supermarkets and neighbourhood shops, they preferred to come here to soak up the atmosphere. Housewife Jane Lim, 58, said: “Shopping at supermarkets may be more relaxed. It’s not as cramped, the goods have price tags on them and it’s easier to find the items I want. But there is a festive atmosphere at Albert Centre. That’s why I am here.”

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NHB project to document Malay cemetery

The tombstones and epigraphy carved by Javanese and Chinese stone carvers, for instance, reflect the settlement’s socio-cultural diversity, according to the project’s lead researcher, Assistant Professor Imran Tajudeen of the National University of Singapore’s department of architecture.

The NHB had commissioned a team compromising academics from NUS and other experts to do the project.

The raffia strings and tags are part of the effort. The strings, for instance, help cluster the matching headstones and footstones of each grave.

Mr Alvin Tan, NHB’s group director of policy, said the project is part of its ongoing efforts to document sites of historic interest.

Jalan Kubor is one of the earliest Malay cemeteries and the aim is to unearth “insights into the Malay community’s historical identity, the significance of the cemetery to Kampung Glam and its development, as well as Singapore’s connection to the Malay world”.

“We also hope to document the notable personalities and community leaders buried there, such as Haji Ambok Sooloh Haji Omar and Syed Alwee Ali Aljunied,” he added.

Associate Professor Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied from the NUS Department of Malay Studies attributes the dearth of research on the cemetery and its neglect to a “pervasive historical amnesia on the part of Singaporeans” and the Malay community’s lack of resources.

The project is long overdue, said Ms Savita Kashyap, a director of research and consultancy at Singapore History Consultants, which specialises in heritage education and research consultancy services.

“The cemetery has always been a mystery and efforts to trace lineages have been largely incomplete,” she added.

Singapore Heritage Society president Chua Ai Lin wants the burial ground protected as part of the Kampung Glam conservation district.

“The cemetery is an important component of urban settlement and morphology. It makes more sense to include it in the heritage zone of Kampung Glam for a holistic and robust interpretation of the area,” said Dr Chua.

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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.


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


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

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Bugis Arts district getting a fresh breath of life

An artist's impression of Queen Street (above) after the URA's renovation of the area is completed.

TWIRLING ballerinas, martial arts students and guzheng players could soon take to the newly widened sidewalks of the Queen Street area to showcase their art, and bring life to an otherwise quiet stretch in the city.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is providing more room for the eclectic mix of arts organisations based there to stage activities along the street. Besides widening the sidewalks, it has installed benches and created coach drop-off points as well.

The renovations to make the street more pedestrian-friendly are expected to be completed by the middle of this year.

Arts groups say they have been eagerly waiting to use the outdoor space for activities to engage the public on a regular basis, since the authorities told them a few years ago that it was going to rejuvenate the quiet street.

Some tenants, such as 2902 Gallery, receive as few as 10 visitors a day on Saturdays and Sundays.

But successful street festivals such as the annual Singapore Night Festival, which drew more than 400,000 people to performances held in Waterloo Street, Queen Street and Armenian Street in August last year, have demonstrated the potential that the area has to host outdoor events.

Art Trove Gallery and Museum operations director Roy Quek said he moved his gallery to Waterloo Street four years ago because he had heard about the plans for the area.

He said: “The revitalisation effort has been a long time coming and will help shine the spotlight on the great concentration of arts organisations located in the district.”

Several national monuments and conserved buildings are located in the area, which is also home to arts groups such as Forte Musicademy, Art Bug and The Private Museum.

The Singapore Art Museum and arts facilities such as Dance Ensemble Singapore and Sculpture Square are also in the vicinity.

Despite the proximity, tenants say there is little synergy between the groups because they run their own classes behind closed doors.

With planning by a central coordinating body, they envision monthly parades and scheduled outdoor showcases, which could lead to an exponential growth in visitor numbers.

Singapore Ballet Academy principal Jeffrey Tan said: “Now that the sidewalks are wider, it will be safer for us to plan outdoor performances for our young pupils, who are mostly between five and 10 years old.”

Other groups say they will also save on publicity and rental costs of private indoor spaces like theatres.

But residents and business owners say the changes have aggravated the traffic congestion.

Waterloo Apartments resident Xu Yu Hua, 55, said: “The wider pavements eat into the road and it is just not feasible because the traffic here is already very bad.”

“The hotels bring in big tourists buses, which can cause 20-minute jams during peak hours, and we have to make a big detour to avoid the road,” added Ms Xu, who is a trader.

The URA said it has designated coach drop-off points to cater to the hotels and places of interest in the vicinity.

Some residents also fear that the quiet of the area will be disrupted. Student Margaret Aniela, 19, who also lives in Waterloo Apartments, hoped the events will take place in the day “as it might be hard to sleep at night if it’s too noisy”.

OM The Arts Centre coordinator Gim Lee thinks everyone will benefit from the new plans. The centre runs guzheng and erhu classes, among others.

“The area is teeming with talent and I look forward to a more lively place, where the public can mingle with musicians, calligraphers and dancers,” he said.

“Art, culture and heritage are meant to be shared.”

BT: Non-residential deals to remain active

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.

District 7’s new gate to the city

District 7 is getting  a lot of buzz recently. The impending launch of the City Gate mixed development in Jalan Sultan is drawing attention back to the Kampong Glam district.

Its charm as a historical and cultural zone may give it a head start over many areas but it is its location – on the edge of the city centre and close to retail and entertainment amenities – that is its strongest suit, property consultants said.

Plans to develop the surrounding Beach Road and Ophir-Rochor corridor into a district of mixed- use projects will underpin the investment outlook in the mid- to long term, they said.

“The location on the city fringe translates into easy convenience when commuting to the premier shopping belt of Orchard Road or the central business district,” said Ms Chia Siew Chuin, director for research and advisory at Colliers International.

The 30-storey City Gate is on the site of the former Keypoint, which was acquired by World Class Land for S$360 million from Frasers Commercial Trust in 2012.

The 99-year leasehold project in Beach Road will feature 311 flats – one- and two-bedroom units of 431 to 570 sq ft, two-bedroom and three-bedroom dual-key units of 678 to 1,066 sq ft and one- to four-bedroom penthouses that range from 484 to 1,819 sq ft.

It will also have 188 commercial units, ranging from 280 to 3,735 sq ft.

Residential units are expected to go for S$1,900 to S$2,000 per sq ft (psf) and commercial units could sell for S$4,000 to S$5,000 psf, marketing materials show.

This makes it cheaper than the mixed development DUO in Ophir Road, which was launched by developer M+S at an average selling price of S$2,000 psf last November. DUO is in the city centre, unlike City Gate, noted R’ST Research director Ong Kah Seng.

Two 829 sq ft units at the 360-unit Concourse Skyline, developed by Hong Fok Land, went for S$1,810 to S$2,075 psf in the fourth quarter last year. But 101 units remain unsold since the completed project was launched at about S$1,590 psf in 2008.

Ms Christine Li, research head at OrangeTee, said the new supply of homes from City Gate could place pressure on the developer to lower prices at Concourse Skyline to shift units, especially with the cooling measures in place.

Older developments in the area include the 132-unit Textile Centre, where four units have sold at median prices ranging from S$911 to S$926 psf over the past year.

At The Plaza – a strata-titled 32-storey mixed-use building owned by UOL Group – two units changed hands at a median price of S$1,257 psf a year ago.

In this year’s first quarter, 13 leases were signed at The Plaza at a median rent of S$4.06 psf, said Mr Ong. He felt that owners of units in the new developments can expect strong rental demand, saying “this is a convenient location”.

Highly accessible

The location on the city fringe translates into easy convenience when commuting to the premier shopping belt of Orchard Road or the central business district. – Ms Chia Siew Chuin, of Colliers International

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Sports Hub free usage while time allows

From late June 2014, the Singapore Sports Hub will unveil the Experience Sports Programme to the community – starting with an introductory period from 28 June till 30 July before the official programme kicks-off in August 2014.

This is an all inclusive in-house community programme that will allow everyone to participate for FREE.

From learning to play a new sport, to having a go at fun try-outs or just letting the kids jump around in the Experience Sports Village, there’ll be nothing short of fun activities for everyone at the Singapore Sports Hub every weekend and occasionally on weekdays.​

With the guidance of certified coaches, the Sports Hub will provide fun learning experiences for all. Their “Learn To Play” programme is designed for all ages, all sporting abilities and for all proficiency levels.

Whether you’ve ever held a badminton racquet, just played for fun at the playground or can hit a mean cross-court smash, Experience Badminton, is for you!

If you had always wondered what sand feels like in your face, Experience Beach Volleyball can be the right tonic for your Saturday.

Every Saturdays and Sundays, all year round, the Singapore Sports Hub will have a new sport for you to Experience.

See more details from the Sports Hub Home page.