Category Archives: East

Eastern part of Singapore

Amber Condo for rent at $3K+ only

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Central Area Masterplan

A video that summarises the development plans for the Central Area of Singapore!

Sports Hub extends free trial for facilities to Aug 17

2014-07-06 16.54.38

The extension is part of the National Day celebrations. The National Day Parade will also be screened at the Sports Hub.

As part of Singapore’s National Day celebrations, the Singapore Sports Hub has decided to extend the free use of its facilities till Aug 17. So if you missed out on getting tickets to this year’s National Day Parade (NDP), you can catch all the action on a giant screen at the Sports Hub, as it celebrates the nation’s 49th birthday.

The screening of the NDP at the Sports Hub follows the successful free screenings of the World Cup matches. The free trials, originally slated for the whole month of July, have proved popular with the public, with usage rates hitting about 90 per cent to date. Badminton and swimming have attracted the most number of bookings.

Once the free trial period is over, the Sports Hub will charge a fee for the use of these facilities. The rates, to be announced later, will be aligned with that of other sports facilities in Singapore.

“The free trials will give us feedback on what the public want,” said the Singapore Sports Hub’s Chief Operating Officer Oon Jin Teik. “We will adjust the rates and timings accordingly to make it easily accessible and affordable for all.”

Dakota Crescent – Where time stands still

A SWANKY new National Stadium rises in Kallang. Two years ago, the nearby Goodman Arts Centre opened its doors to a hip young crowd. One street away, a new condominium has been built on the site of Housing Board flats.

But amid these changes, time has passed by Dakota Crescent, one of Singapore’s oldest HDB estates, located off Old Airport Road. The 17 blocks of low-rise flats have hardly changed since being built in 1958.

No wonder, then, that their retro architecture and old-school playground make them a hot spot for photographers and artists.

“It’s rare to see such old flats,” said Mr Renalto Wong, 25, who was there on a Sunday, sketching a 54-year-old provision shop that recently closed down. “There’s something comfortable and nostalgic about this place – it’s almost like a hideout.”

The estate was named after the Douglas DC-3 Dakota, a model of plane that landed at Kallang Airport in the past.

Built by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) – the forerunner of the HDB – most of the 600 flats are leased to low-income families under the board’s public rental scheme. The flats are occupied mostly by elderly residents, who pay as low as $26 a month for a one-room flat and $44 a month for a two-room flat.

Scrap-goods buyer Ng Guan Swee, 68, has lived in Dakota Crescent since it was built.

“There was a fire in Cecil Street in the 50s and our house got burned down, so we were allocated a house in Dakota Crescent,” he recalled in Mandarin.

At that time, Mr Ng’s grandmother had bound feet – as was the custom in her day – and the family requested a ground-level unit. Theirs, at Block 20, has been home to Mr Ng and his sister for more than 50 years.

“When we came in 1958, there were no streetlights,” said Mr Ng, sitting amid old laser disc players, hi-fi sets and other vintage items in his home. He remembers traversing the dark streets to go to the nearby Guillemard shophouses for snacks.

But in the 1960s, as more families moved in, a market sprang up opposite the estate.

“Almost every unit in this estate was occupied. Neighbours knew one another and our doors were always open,” said Mr Ng. “Those were good times.”

Madam Yong Fong Keow, 64, who moved there in the 60s, also misses such communal life.

Gesturing at a new condominium, she said in Mandarin: “There was a bakery there. At 3pm or 4pm, we would smell the aroma of freshly baked bread. That’s when you grabbed some money and a neighbour and went to buy bread.”

But now, communal life in Dakota is a shadow of what it used to be. Only about 60 per cent of the units are occupied. Of a row of four shops, only two – both Chinese medicine clinics – remain.

Neighbours started moving out in the 90s, some to live with their children.

Then, a new wave of tenants moved there in 2005 when the HDB leased empty units to private operators, who, in turn, rented them to foreign workers.

“You could hear Thai accents, Filipino accents and Chinese accents around the neighbourhood, it was like a mini United Nations,” Mr Ng joked.

While some residents got used to these new faces, others did not.

Madam Amy De Silva, a long-time resident in her 60s, said: “Some of them were rowdy and you could hear them coming home late at night. Their living habits just didn’t suit ours.”

The HDB’s agreement with the managing agent ended last year and the foreign workers have since moved out of the Dakota estate.

However, at Block 32, an empty unit is littered with cardboard boxes and clothes. Mr Y.Y Goh, 57, a resident, said foreign workers live there but they do not disturb anyone.

One empty unit in Block 12, though, has become a party spot for teens. “They drink, eat, smoke, and mess the place up,” said a resident who wanted to be known only as Mr Zhang.

When The Straits Times visited, there were drink cans, chip packets and cardboard boxes in the unit.

In another vacant unit in Block 16, graffiti was scrawled on the walls. Some residents suspect teenagers sniffed glue there – some were spotted going into the unit with bags over their noses.

The HDB said that it has received complaints about crime and mischief in the area and informed the police.

But Dakota, now somewhat of a ghost town, may soon be more crowded again. The HDB said it is offering empty units as interim housing to needy families awaiting new flats. They were expected to start moving in progressively from last month. It has not indicated any long-term plans to develop the estate, however.

Although Dakota has been dubbed an “old people’s estate”, the few young faces who live there have no complaints.

“It’s a five-minute walk from Dakota and Mountbatten MRT stations, we have the Old Airport Road hawker centre and I hang out with friends at the Kallang Leisure Park nearby,” said Mr Kartigesan Saravanan, 20, who has lived in Dakota for the past 13 years. “It’s really a good location.”

Indeed, resident Bill Koh, who is in his 50s, said: “So many new buildings are coming up around us, it’s hard not to worry what might happen.

“People always come here and say how nice this estate is. There’s lots of green space between these old flats. It’s a pity if one of Singapore’s oldest estates is gone – maybe they should consider conserving it.”
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Among Foreign buyers, Indians overtook Indonesians

Something unexpected has taken place in the second quarter of the year – Indonesians’ share of private home purchases here by permanent residents and foreigners sank to a fresh low.

So much so that Indians zoomed past to emerge as the third largest group of non-Singaporean buyers in the quarter. Indonesians came in fourth.

In absolute numbers, though, purchases by both nationalities increased quarter on quarter amid an across-the-board rise in private home transactions, according to a DTZ analysis of URA Realis caveats data.

In the April-June period, Indonesians bought 95 private homes, a 13.1 per cent rise from 84 a quarter earlier. This gave them an 11 per cent share of the 834 units acquired in Q2 by PRs and foreign buyers – the lowest recorded in the URA Realis database that dates back to Q1 1995.

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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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.

Amber Glades for rent

Amber Glades is a mid-sized development which consists of two 10-storey block. It is situated between the famed Katong area as well as Marine Parade. There are a few units for rent here. 1087-1668 sqft. 3 and 4 bedrooms available. Rental from $4200 onwards. Very affordable. Minutes to Parkway Parade, Katong eateries and town. Call +659477-2121 for more details.

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Eurasian Association in Katong


The Eurasian Association at Ceylon Road is home to the Eurasian Heritage Centre, which showcases the history, lifestyle and culture of Eurasians in Singapore. Special galleries also trace the genealogy of different Eurasian groups and recount the community’s experiences during World War Two.

The Eurasian Association Open House Cultural Day

Eurasian Community House, 139 Ceylon Road

19 Jul 2014 – 27 Jul 2014

19, 20, 26 and 27 Jul : 3pm – 4.30pm, 5pm – 6.30pm

In Partnership with: URA

The Eurasian Experience Tour includes:

1) Guided tour of the 3 galleries of the Eurasian Heritage Centre (max: 20pax)

2) Hands-on learning of a traditional Portuguese Eurasian folk dance (2 dancers)

3) Food tasting of a traditional Eurasian delicacy

Games Station (for children 12 years and below):

– While parents are attending the Eurasian Experience Tour, their children can learn about Eurasian culture in a fun way at our Games Station showcasing traditional games played by Eurasians (including pick-up-sticks, five stones, hopscotch, zero point and card games such as Happy Family and Snap), with a short interactive video and quiz about who are Eurasians.