Compared to the brand new shopping centres, these veteran shopping malls look as though they are forgotten by time. While it is a norm for new shopping centres to have several fast food restaurants, food courts, fashion outlets or even cineplexes, the old shopping malls are instead dominated by foreign-maid agencies, travel agencies and renovation companies.
Not all aging malls are frozen in time. Those which are managed by sole owners can turn back the time through a series of renovations and makeovers. The strata-titled ones are in more tricky situations. They are usually co-owned by different groups of people, making them difficult to be bought over by private developers. The owners also have the freedom to lease their shops to any tenants who are lured by the relatively lower rents, which is why it is not unusual to find similar businesses in the same building.
While the likes of VivoCity, Nex or JCube attract huge crowds, many veteran malls look deserted even during the weekends.
When was the last time you have visited one of these old shopping malls?
The Veteran Heartlanders
Katong Shopping Centre, Mountbatten Road (since 1973)
Katong Shopping Centre was opened in 1973, much to the delight of the residents living in Katong and Marine Parade. The first air-conditioned shopping mall in Singapore, it was then well-known for a concentrated number of textile shops in its early days, as well as its anchor tenant the Oriental Emporium. The building, styled with the iconic holes-in-walls design, was filled with people every weekends.
As time passed, the domination of the textile businesses was gradually taken over by renovation companies, computer-software and gaming shops, employment agencies and other retail outlets. In 1997, Katong Shopping Centre was renovated with a new striking blue outlook. It is now mainly catered to the crowds from the nearby churches and hotels.
Since 2010, the strata-titled Katong Shopping Centre has been undergoing through en-bloc sales. It may be re-developed into a new commercial building if the en-bloc exercise is successful by the end of 2012.
The Oden Katong Shopping Complex beside Katong Shopping Centre was built in place of the old Oden Katong Theatre in the eighties.
Queensway Shopping Centre, Queensway (since 1976)
Completed in 1976, Queensway Shopping Centre is well-known for its large number of retail shops selling sneakers, tennis racquets, soccer boots and other sport apparels. Other retailers deal with fashion, photocopying and tailorship.
Standing at one corner of the busy cross junction between Alexandra Road and Jalan Bukit Merah, Queensway Shopping Centre has seen major changes in its neighbours in the last 35 years. Before 1990, the Archipelago Brewery Company, specialised in the popular Anchor Beer from the 1930s to 1960s, had its manufacturing plant, production line and warehouse at where Anchorpoint (hence its name) and Ikea are standing today. Bukit Merah SAFRA Club was opened in 1982, and was shut down in 2004 after 23 years of services. There are some redevelopment plans in building a hotel to replace it.
The busy cross junction used to be a round-about named Rumah Bomba Circus in the seventies. Malay street hawkers lined up outside Queensway Shopping Centre peddling delicious satay, otah otah and mee rebus, which were extremely popular with the patrons after their shopping sprees at the mall.
Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre, Upper Serangoon Road (since 1970s)
Located at the junction of Upper Serangoon Road and Upper Paya Lebar Road, Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre was completed in the seventies. The four-storey heartland mall used to be filled with activities in bookshops, tailor shops, hair salons and even a tattoo shop.
The most famous tenant is perhaps Ah Lim, a nickname fondly called by the shoppers, who is the owner of the evergreen computer shop which sells the latest PC games at lower rates compared to other places.
Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre has become a ghost town in the past decade, with more than 70% of of the shops vacated. In 2010, there were plans to sell the building to a private developer for a major revamp, but nothing came out of it. Its fortune was not helped by the opening of Nex, the largest suburban shopping mall in the northeastern Singapore, in 2011.
Bukit Timah Plaza, Jalan Anak Bukit (since 1978)
Deemed as a higher end shopping mall during its heydays, Bukit Timah Plaza used to have many shops specialised in computer hardware and software, household products and a large Yaohan store (see Thomson Plaza below).
The fortune of the plaza declined since the late nineties. With the rapid decrease in the crowds, shops found it difficult to continue their businesses. Rental fees dropped and small renovation contractors companies and maid agencies moved in to become the dominant batch of tenants. Meanwhile, the NTUC FairPrice supermarket replaced Yaohan as the anchor tenant of Bukit Timah Plaza.
Bukit Timah Shopping Centre, Upper Bukit Timah Road (since 1978)
Once popular among the Malaysian tourists for its retail shops selling a wide variety of affordable clothing, Bukit Timah Shopping Centre is now largely dominated by renovation contractor companies and maid agencies, just like the nearby Bukit Timah Plaza.
Even though Bukit Timah Shopping Centre stands opposite of a row of popular eating houses, a lack of human traffic today makes the aging mall pale when compared to its heydays during the eighties. Only a couple of computer gaming shops and billiard saloons are able to lure some youths to the shopping mall, while food-lovers are attracted by a reputed restaurant specialised in nonya cuisine. Otherwise, the building is like a forgotten place frozen in time.
The construction of the Beauty World MRT Station of the Downtown Line (scheduled to be ready in 2015) may bring the old shopping mall back to life, but for the time being, it is destined to retain its reputation as a ghost town.
Thomson Plaza, Upper Thomson Road (since 1979)
Owned by DBS (Development Bank of Singapore), the $30-million project along Upper Thomson Road was handled by Japanese construction company Ohbayashi-Gumi as early as 1977. The shopping complex was fully completed in 1981.
During the eighties and nineties, Thomson Plaza was perhaps more well-known as Thomson Yaohan, due to its anchor tenant Yaohan (1979-1997), a Japanese departmental giant which also had other branches at Plaza Singapura (1974-1997), Bukit Timah (1982-1997), Parkway Parade (1983-1997) and Taman Jurong (1983-1989). After the Asian currency crisis in 1997/98, a bankrupted Yaohan was forced to close most of its operations in Asia. Yaohan Best, Yaohao’s subsidiary which specialised in electronic products, was restructured and became Best Denki.
After the closure of Yaohan, Thomson Plaza went through a period of decline before being revived by a series of upgrading. Its other long-time tenants include KFC and Yahama Music.
City Plaza, Geylang Road (since 1981)
Opened since 1981, the yellow-orange shopping mall at Geylang Road began as a mall filled with shops selling cheap Hong Kong-made clothes and dresses. It also used to have coin-operated massage chairs on its ground floor for tired shoppers.
Today, the mall is a favourite for bargaining experts who like to search for their treasures at the wholesalers in ladies’ fashion. The Arnold’s Fried Chicken on the second level is one of the most popular eating outlets in the building.
Located close to Geylang, the shopping mall has gained a notorious reputation in which old lecherous men can sometimes be spotted lurking around. It has also become one of the gathering points for the Filipino maids in Singapore during weekends.
Beauty World Plaza, Upper Bukit Timah Road (since 1983)
Beauty World Plaza is one of the old shopping malls clustered at Upper Bukit Timah Road, along with Bukit Timah Shopping Centre, Beauty World Centre and Bukit Timah Plaza.
Its name was derived from the Beauty World, an amusement park that once existed at Upper Bukit Timah, and was as popular as Gay World, New World and Great World at Kim Seng. The amusement park was converted into a market place after the Second World War.
Before the construction of Beauty World Plaza, there were the Beauty World Park Market and Beauty World Town, where both of them were destroyed by fires in 1975 and 1984. Years later, some of the stallholders and shop-owners were relocated at Beauty World Plaza and Beauty World Centre to continue their businesses.
Tanjong Katong Complex, Geylang Road (since 1983)
The first fully air-conditioned shopping mall managed by the Housing Development Board (HDB), Tanjong Katong Complex once housed the popular Japanese supermarket and department store Yokoso. In the nineties, other retail shops such as 2nd Chance (First Lady), Toko Lisa and Smart supermarket moved in. The mall is also well-known for selling traditional clothing and textiles. Its current major tenant is Shop N Save.
The construction of Tanjong Katong Complex began as early as 1980, on the site of a former Malay settlement at Lorong Engku Aman. Together with the adjacent Geylang Serai Malay Village, it has maintained its popularity among the Malay community for many years. The Malay Village was demolished in 2011, while Tanjong Katong Complex is given a lease extension of another 10 years, so as to allow the Malay trades to remain in this culturally rich area.
Parkway Parade, Marine Parade Road (since 1984)
An unmistakable landmark of Marine Parade since 1984, Parkway Parade was developed by Parkway Properties. Extremely popular since its opening, it also housed many unforgettable fast food restaurants, such as Hardee’s and Chuck E Cheese, that had long ceased their operations in Singapore.
In 2000, Parkway Parade was sold to Asia Pacific Investment Company, and after a series of upgrades, anchor tenants such as Giant Hypermarket, Best Denki, Isetan, Marks & Spencer and Borders (2007-2012) moved in.
It now boasts eight levels (including basement) of food and beverages, fashion, medical services, beauty salons, family entertainment and a fitness centre.
Holland Road Shopping Centre, Holland Avenue (since mid-1980s)
During the fifties and sixties, Holland Village thrived due to the presence of the British military staying at the nearby Chip Bee Gardens. Holland Village was feared to become a ghost town when the British started their withdrawal from Singapore in 1971, but luckily for the “westernised” neighbourhood, it was able to attract a new group of clientele in the locals and the expatriates.
Holland Road Shopping Centre has three levels of shops selling everything from Asian crafts and jewellery to furniture and carpets. Its large variety in arts, antique and crafts make the mall popular among the expatriates. Lim’s Arts and Living, one of its biggest stores, sells exotic items such as shisha pipes, African statues and Moroccan dinnerware.
In recent years, however, soaring rental fees and the inconvenience due to the construction of the Holland Road MRT Station have affected many tenants. Mama Joe Magazine Corner, one of the iconic tenants of Holland Road Shopping Centre, closed down in 2007 due to bankruptcy.
Holland Road Shopping Centre was given a fresh paint of orange coat after 2009. Before that, it had a white and blue theme.
Other Veteran Malls in Singapore
Serangoon Plaza, formerly known as President Shopping Centre, mainly caters for the middle-class. President Shopping Centre operated from the mid-sixties to early eighties. Mustafa’s founder Mustaq Ahmad first rented a store at Serangoon Plaza in 1985, before acquiring the whole row of shophouses at the nearby Syed Alwi Road to set up Mustafa Centre.
Goldhill Shopping Centre, built in 1969 as a low-rise retail-office hub, was owned by Malaysian developer Goldhill Group. The building will be affected by the construction of the new North-South Expressway scheduled to start in 2013.
Owned and managed by HDB, Balestier Hill Shopping Centre (since mid-1970s) and Boon Lay Shopping Centre (since early 1980s) are more like typical neighbourhood hubs rather than what their names suggest. Another similar HDB neighbourhood shopping hub was the Lake View Shopping Centre along Upper Thomson Road. However, it was demolished in the late nineties.
United Square or formerly Goldhill Square at Novena has been around since 1982, standing beside the Goldhill Plaza and Goldhill Shopping Centre. After successfully reinvented itself as a kids’ learning hub, the mall becomes popular among young families.
A $77 million project, Roxy Square was completed in 1984 at Katong. It is standing on the former site of Roxy Theatre, owned by the legendary Shaw Brothers.
Sembawang Shopping Centre was previously famous for its anchor tenant Sembawang Music Store, which had since ceased its operation in 2009 due to bankruptcy. The mall was refurbished and given a new look in 2007. The popular Sembawang Satay Club used to operate beside the shopping mall before its revamp.
Veteran Shopping Malls at Orchard and City
C.K.Tang/Tang Plaza, Orchard Road (since 1958)
The famous Tangs departmental store was founded by legendary Singaporean entrepreneur Tan Choon Keng (1901-2000), or fondly known as C.K. Tang. Born to a Teochew Presbyterian pastor in Swatow of China, Tang Choon Keng arrived at Singapore at an age of 23.
Began as a humble salesman, Tang Choon Keng soon saved enough to open a small shop at River Valley Road. In 1958, much to the surprise of others, Tang Choon Keng bought a plot of land at the corner of Orchard Road and Scotts Road for S$10,000. Being a devoted Christian, Tang Choon Keng had no concerns that the new building he was going to build was facing Tai San Ting Cemetery.
C.K. Tang Departmental Store went on to become the landmark of early Orchard Road, and kicked off the development of Orchard Road as a prime shopping district of Singapore. Modeled after the Forbidden City of China, C.K. Tang was designed with green-tiled roofs that remains as its iconic feature today.
In 1982, the former building of C.K. Tang was demolished and replaced by a larger complex made up of Tang Plaza and Marriott Hotel (formerly called Dynasty Hotel). A new slogan called “All the best under one roof” was launched with great success. Due to Tang Choon Keng’s Christian beliefs, Tang Plaza remained the only departmental store in Orchard to close on Sundays until 1996.
Tanglin Shopping Centre, Tanglin Road (since 1971)
Located along the bustling Tanglin Road, Tanglin Shopping Centre was built in 1971 as a luxury mall. One of its famous tenants in the early seventies was Club 21, a humble men tailor-turned-into high-end boutique for ladies.
Today, it has gained a reputation of a heritage and culturally-rich shopping mall where one can find Oriental shops specialising from exotic artifacts and antiques such old Buddha heads and Tibetan prayerbeads, to Southeast Asian textiles and Japanese furniture. There is also an extensive collection of vintage items in old movies, music CDs and books for nostalgia lovers.
Peninsula Shopping Centre, Coleman Street (since 1971)
The site where Peninsula Shopping Centre (and Hotel) is standing today has a prestigious history, going back all the way to the early 19th century.
In 1829, Raffles’ adviser and Irish architect George Drumgoole Coleman (1795-1844) built his residence at 3 Coleman Street (which was named after him). When Coleman left Singapore in 1841 due to ill health, the building changed hands several times. By 1865, it was converted into a high-end hotel until the Second World War. Its deteriorated conditions after the war saw its demolition in 1965, and had Peninsula Hotel and Shopping Centre built in its place in 1971.
Golden Mile Complex, Beach Road (since 1972)
The Golden Mile Complex (formerly known as Who Hup Complex) at Beach Road was one of the first commercial-residential projects in Singapore to integrate shops, offices and residences into one single building. Completed in 1973 (its shopping mall was opened a year earlier), the iconic landmark by the Kallang Basin won several architectural awards in the seventies.
Its fortune, however, declined in the mid-nineties. The lack of maintenance, dirty toilets and poor security caused it to be termed from the pride of a “vertical city” to the humiliation of a “vertical slum”. Others called it an eyesore or a national disgrace, due to its prominence beside the busy Nicoll Highway.
Tour agencies and shops selling Thai goods and cuisines now dominate Golden Mile Complex. It is filled with Thai foreign workers during the weekends. There were plans by its owner to sell the building in recent years but the move did not materialise due to disagreements by its shop and residential owners.
People’s Park Complex, Eu Tong Sen Street (since 1973)
The biggest shopping complex in Singapore upon its completion in 1973, the People’s Park Complex is one of the most prominent landmarks at Chinatown, the 31-storey building consists of 6 levels of shops and offices and a residential block of 25 floors.
For decades, the People’s Park Complex has been popular with the wide diversity of its retail shops, ranging from money-changing services, electronic goods, jewellery to travel agencies. It remains as one of most popular hangouts for shoppers during the Chinese New Year festivals.
Its owner, People’s Park Development Pte Ltd, also owned Katong People’s Complex (Katong Mall) from 1984 to 2009. The mall is now revamped into 112 Katong.
Far East Shopping Centre, Orchard Road (since 1974)
Far East Shopping Centre was one of Far East Organisation’s (FEO) first projects in the retail markets. Built in 1974, the shopping centre was the first mall in Singapore to have an atrium and external escalators.
The success of Far East Shopping Centre prompted Ng Teng Fong (1928-2010), head of FEO and one of Singapore’s richest men, to continue his venture at Orchard Road. Subsequently, Lucky Plaza (1978), Orchard Plaza (1981), Far East Plaza (1983) and Claymore Plaza (1984) were built. Ng Teng Feng became well-known as the “King of Orchard”.
Far East Plaza, in particular, became popular among youngsters from the eighties to nineties with its large variety of trendy fashion shops. 77th Street was one of its most popular tenants, operating at the shopping centre from 1988 to 2012.
Plaza Singapura, Orchard Road (since 1974)
While Centrepoint attracted the likes of trendy youngsters, Plaza Singapura was more suitable for family outings in its early days. One of the largest malls in Singapore upon its completion, Plaza Singapura was managed by DBS Land, which was the predecessor of CapitaLand.
In 1974, Japanese departmental giant Yaohan opened its first store in Singapore at Plaza Singapura. Subsequently, other famous brands such as OG, Times Bookstore, Yamaha Music, McDonald’s, Ponderosa, Daimaru and Courts Superstore moved in.
After going through two major revamps in 1998 and 2003, and had its basement linked to the Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station, Plaza Singapura continues to enjoy high popularity till today.
Orchard Towers, Claymore Road (since 1975)
Completed in 1975, the building of Orchard Towers has five levels of retail shops with 13 floors of offices on top. Since the nineties, Orchard Towers became a household name in Singapore, for the wrong reasons.
There are a couple of electronic shops, massage parlours and internet cafes in the building, but when the nights fall, the dozen of bars, pubs and clubs on the first four levels take over. Prostitutes and transvestites roam around, giving the place a notorious nickname of “Four Floors of Whores”. Due to its sleazy nature, Orchard Towers is subjected to regular police raids.
Peninsula Plaza, Coleman Street (since 1981)
Like Peninsula Shopping Centre which is situated on the opposite of Coleman Street, the site of Peninsula Plaza has a long history.
It was once the site of the residence of wealthy Chinese businessman Tan Kim Cheng in the late 19th century. Property developer Manasseh Meyer bought the place and developed it into a five-storey residential apartments with offices and shops known as the Meyer Mansions. The apartments were torn down in 1970. It was not until more than a decade later before Peninsula Plaza occupied its current location.
Peninsula Plaza has largely retained its appearance for the past 20 odd years. Its shops are specialised in a wide range of merchandise, such as household items, fashion, imported snacks and cameras and its accessories. Some of the shops, however, have notorious reputations of high-pressure selling tactics which the shoppers need to be cautious of.
The Arcade, Collyer Quay (since 1981)
The Arcade at Raffles Place, built in 1981, may look out of place standing among the new skyscrapers, but it has a long history stretching back to the early 20th century. Its predecessor was the Alkaff Arcade owned by the Alkaffs, Singapore’s prominent wealthy Arab family.
Completed in 1909, the Moorish-styled Alkaff Arcade was Singapore’s first indoor shopping centre stretching from Collyer Quay to Raffles Place. At four-storey tall, it was also the highest building at the time of its completion.
The former Arcade was demolished in 1978 to make way for the new Arcade at a construction cost of $20 million. The shopping-cum-office building is now famous for the intense competition among its numerous money-changers.
Centrepoint, Orchard Road (since 1983)
Centrepoint was built in 1983, replacing the old Cold Storage building. Renowned British retailer Robinsons became its flagship since then, occupying five levels after its move from the opposite Specialist’s Shopping Centre.
In the mid-eighties, Centrepoint was considered a trendy shopping mall and a popular gathering point among the youngsters, which saw the rise of the infamous Centrepoint Kids. As many as 2,000 teenagers gathered here every weekends. Most of them, dressed in loud outfits and hairstyles, were just engaging in normal conversations among friends, but a few committed illegal activities such as shop-lifting and glue-sniffing. Some fights occurred due to staring incidents. This gave the groups of youngsters a bad reputation, and prompted the police to keep an eye on the premises outside Centrepoint.
In 2006, after a major revamp, Centrepoint Shopping Centre was renamed as The Centrepoint.
Liang Court, River Valley Road (since 1985)
Standing beside Clarke Quay, Liang Court aims to provide an “Asian Fusion by the River” shopping experience for its customers. The 5-levels-2-basements mall takes on a Japanese theme, having MEIDI-YA supermarket and Kinokuniya bookstore as its anchor tenants, as well as a number of Japanese restaurants. MEIDI-YA at Liang Court is the Japanese supermarket’s second overseas branch after its first store in Amsterdam of Holland.
The Singapore River clean-up project was kicked off in 1977, and lasted almost a decade to keep it pollution free. When Liang Court was opened in 1985, the Singapore River was a vibrant and clear waterway beside the brown buildings of Liang Court and Novotel Hotel.
Liang Court underwent a major $40 million revamp in 2008.
Sim Lim Square, Rochor Canal Road (since 1987)
Like Funan Centre (opened since 1985), Sim Lim Square, or popularly known as SLS, is famous for it large variety of computers, handphones, cameras and other electronic gadgets. While Funan Centre is considered more upmarket and expensive, Sim Lim Square caters more for the general masses. It has, however, an unwanted reputation of scams and high-pressured selling tactics.
Consisting of six levels and two basements of retail shops selling all sorts of electronic and computing devices, Sim Lim Square offers the customers many choices at negotiable prices and bargains. However, the well-known IT mall has been plagued by dishonest and unethical business practices of some shops in recent years. Along with Lucky Plaza at Orchard Road, Sim Lim Square has gained a notorious reputation of “carrot-chopping” (scamming) the tourists.
Rise and Fall of Other Shopping Centres
Tay Buan Guan Supermarket, East Coast Road (1950s-2001)
Comprising of a Chinese emporium, jewellery shop, pharmacy, confectionery, refrigeration facilities and even a beauty saloon, Tay Buan Guan Supermarket sold everything from groceries, books, flowers to electrical appliances and household items. Housed in a building made up of 13 two-storey shophouses, the supermarket was a landmark at Katong and frequently patronised by the Peranakans, Eurasians and the English-educated Chinese.
Tay Buan Guan Supermarket’s founder Tay Leck Teck started off as a hawker at Joo Chiat before he saved enough to open a shop, and later set up the shopping centre in the fifties. It enjoyed some forty plus years of popularity and prosperity, but was later outshone by Katong Shopping Centre and Parkway Parade. In 2001, the building was bought over by a condominium developer and subsequently demolished.
Specialists’ Shopping Centre, Orchard Road (early 1970s-2008)
One of the oldest shopping centres at Orchard Road, Specialists’ Shopping Centre was home to Hotel Phoenix Singapore and, more famously, the John Little departmental store. It was originally named Specialists due to the concentration of medical specialists in its early days, and it was built in the site of the Pavilion Theatre in the early seventies.
Owned by OCBC Bank, the 30-plus years old mall and hotel were finally demolished in 2008 to be replaced by Orchard Gateway, a new mall with restaurants, offices, hotel rooms and a library linked between two towers.
Scotts Shopping Centre, Scotts Road (1982-2007)
Scotts Shopping Centre, at Scotts Road, was a high-end boutique mall mainly catered for wealthy Indonesian or other overseas customers. Opened in 1982, it had five levels of retail shops with a 23-storey service apartment building on top. The mall even had Singapore’s first air-conditioned food court, Picnic Foot Court, opened in 1985.
In 2004, Scotts Shopping Centre and the Ascott Serviced Residences were bought over by Wheelock Properties for $345 million. The buildings were subsequently demolished three years later, and replaced by a luxury apartment-and-retail complex known as Scotts Square.
Promenade Shopping Centre, Orchard Road (late 1980s-2003)
Promenade Shopping Centre was built at the site of the former Fitzpatrick’s Supermarket in the late eighties. In 2003, it was demolished to make way for the extension of the luxury high-end mall Paragon.
Other than the defunct shopping malls, major departmental retailers in Singapore that have closed in recent decades were Oriental Emporium (1966-1987), Yaohan (1974-1997), Daimaru (1983-2003) and SOGO (1986-2000).
Published: 13 June 2012
Updated: 28 June 2021
I remembered all these!
Hi did you by any chance have the opportunity to shop at TANGS during the 60s or 70s or know anyone who has and would be willing to be interviewed about it?
I think you got the info wrong for the specialist’s shopping centre. Orchard Central is not the shopping centre that is replacing the specialist’s shopping centre. The new shopping centre replacing both Orchard Emerald and Specialist’s Shopping Centre/Hotel Phoenix will be ready in end 2013. For Orchard Central, it was previously a carpark and the site of the former gluttons square.
You may want to mention that Heartland Mall Kovan was formerly known as Oriential Emporium Hougang, owned by the former Oriental Emporium.
Thanks.. you are right
I’ve checked the street directory of 1998
Have corrected it 😉
umm… i think you should have mentioned that orchard emerald will be part of the orchard gateway. when you mentioned that the library is linked by two towers, it puzzled me ya.
Looks like it has become Orchard 313
Hi, i’m doing some research for a project focusing on the revamping of orchard road and need your help. I was wandering if by chance you know any shops (non-brand) that have been on Orchard for at least 25 years?
i still remember this song………
“Beauty World~~~ *Cha-Cha-Cha!* I like It!”
Thank you for this article… That really brought back some good memories.
You left out Lucky Plaza, which is the hangout for Filipino maids rather than City Plaza which is the hangout for Indonesian maids.
That’s right. City Plaza is Indonesian hangout, not Filipino like you wrote.
Some of the old malls are strata-titled, which means individual owners can lease out to whoever they wish. One would remember in the late 90s/early 2000s, there were many “temp” shops in these old malls selling pirated software and pornography.
Hi. Thank you for writing about these interesting places. I love your articles! I hope you can write about old cinemas in Singapore, especially the old open-air cinemas. I remember there was one open-air cinema in Kampong Chai Chee in the 70s but unfortunately i do not have any picture of it or remember the exact location.
Yes, I have fond memories of the open-air cinema in Kampong Chai Chee in the 70s where I used to live. One of the many movies I watched was ‘人、鬼、神’. i remember watching the movie under an umbrella in the rain, getting bitten by bugs from the wooden bench, angry people shouting when the screening of the movie was disrupted….Those were the days of watching movies in an open-air cinema under the starry sky.
I found the name of the open-air cinema “Kong Eng 光荣 Open Air Cinema” here: https://yeohongeng.blogspot.com/2015/01/gangsterism-in-kampong-chai-chee-prior.html?view=flipcard
Plaza Singapura – there used to be a huge Japanese bookstore on the 2nd floor when it first opened, was wondering if anyone remembers its name?
It was Yoahan Shoping Centre at the basement. With pocket money less than 50 cents, managed to reach there most of the Saturday. Enjoyed LEGO toys displayed but never got it.
I thnk the name is Yajimaya Books. They used to provide paper wrappers with the store name for you to wrap your books in.
What a great article and pictures. I only lived in Singapore for ten years, but I do remember a lot of these buildings. I understand progress, but it is sad that so many of these land marks are gone or reinvented. Thanks for the memories.
OOOOOO…Ah lim…wahh memories of my secondary school days where that was a favorite haunt, and just one floor below him were all the pirated stores. Is he still there?
Another great blast from the past!
I remember hanging out at the numerous arcades in Queensway Shopping Centre during my primary school days. Pacman, breakout, space invaders, fuzzball… Good times!
Glad to know that both Queensway and Holland Village Shopping Centres are still going strong! Or am I biased since I still stay in Queenstown?
Which years did you hang out at the arcades? I’m trying to find out which was the first year arcades come to Singapore! I hung out in arcades while growing up in the 90s too.
the reason for upper serangoon shopping center to become a ghost town is 2 main reason, 1stly the relocation of the residents staying at the nearby old shop houses that have now become a flyover, i know this cause i grew up there. i miss parco funworld.
2ndly will be the moving of the few schools like chij st joseph convent keke we girls used to hang out there now when my girl ask me mummy u sure u grew up here why i only see roads.
Thank for bringing back those memories !
There’s another one I thought of … Coronation Plaza along Bukit Timah Road…
Coronation Plaza was my childhood after school getaway place, as most former students of the now “extinct” Farrer Primary School still remember. It was also known as “Silo”, not sure why kids called it “Silo” back then. Fond memories.
Silo was the supermart before it was bought over by NTUC. My sec sch is at Hillcrest Dunearn Sec
wow, so that’s where the name Silo came from. good to know. Thanks
Wow. I actually remember most of these places, but this is the first time that some of them stuck me as actual malls (like Tanjong Katong Complex and Upper Serangoon SC). They were just buildings with outlets on the first level…
What about Serangoon Garden Village at 1 Maju Ave? It was Paramount Theatre in the 1950s and now it\’s rebranded as myVillage!
Many thanks for reminding me of the paramount Chris brings back many memories
MY friends and I used to attend many movies at the old Paramount Theatre in Serangoon Gardens in the early 1950’s and I recall also going to the ”open air” 10cent movies at the old Serangoon Gardens club soccer field even before the hawker centre ”chomp chomp” was started but you have to be in your late 60’s or early 70’s of age to remember this.
Chomp Chomp and Paramount still there at 1981. I frequent Paramount bcos as a student have budget. So $1 movie at Paramount is affordable to me as student wheras other cinema already $2
The anchor tenant of Liang Court was Singapore Damairu. LC comprises 2 tower blocks, one, New Otani Hotel and the other is the service apartments.
Also the indoor musical water fountain (you don’t need to go to Sentosa in those days to see one), and the main pump that pushes the water up a few levels ! I used to watch the japanese chefs inside Daimaru prepare the sashimi for their japanese clientelle.
Ah yes I remember the fountain! The water responds to clapping!
I remember quite a few of these, especially Beauty World and Bukit Timah Plaza, as I lived in the area. I remember the latter especially, because it held the second-last Waffletown in Singapore (the remaining outlet being along Dunearn Road), and we used to go and eat there as children. Kind of sad to watch it decline, as I used to go there every other weekend. It has undergone a relatively recent refurbishment of the exterior, circa 2006 if I’m not wrong. The main tenant was Yaohan, then NTUC Fairprice, and then they established the biggest FairPrice Finest outlet in Singapore there.
I work near Balestier Hill Shopping Centre (in fact, my boss’s other clinic is there). Totally run down, but it’s increasingly being taken over by Thomson Medical just across the road. They are buying over the leases of the tenants, and converting them into clinics, if I’m not wrong.
Anyway, you forgot to mention that Peninsular Plaza is one of the few shopping centres in Singapore to have a car lift! Heh.
waffletown have moved to balmoral plaza @ bukit timah
Hello. If you are familiar with Bukit Timah Plaza, would you remember a record/ cassette shop that was run by a bespectacled young Chinese man called Paul Hey, ably assisted by his assistant, Cindy? I cannot remember the name of this record shop, no matter how hard I try to jog my memory.
I wonder what bloggers will say about the IOI mall in 30 years? Maybe its like pop music which is loved then dismissed as trash then brought back as an ‘all time classic!’
I still patronize the Queensway shopping centre. My tailor there says his customers are mostly oldies from decades ago.
Thks you for writing this entry — a much needed missing section from Straits Times coverages that rave about new malls and blush about the old ones.
Not sure if you intend comprehensiveness in your listing, but here are other veterans I remember off my head (of which I’ve been only to item 1):
1. Forum Galleria (http://forumtheshoppingmall.com.sg/), which stands at the former Hotel Intercontinental Singapura (http://i566.photobucket.com/albums/ss102/OMBugge/Singapore/Singapore%201960s/hotel_singapura.jpg)
2. Old Cold Storage (http://thelongnwindingroad.wordpress.com/2009/07/05/impressions-of-orchard-road-in-the-1970s/cold-storage/)
3. Katong People’s Complex (http://www.straitstimes.com/Free/Story/STIStory_162104.html)
Nice… Thanks for the links 😉
You are legend, for keeping a blog like this. I was borned in 1980, and these posts bring back incredible memories and wistful moments. Just saying ‘thank you’ does not convey the gratitude I have for your posts! =D
Thanks for your kind words
Hopefully can raise more awareness among Singaporeans in understanding our own heritage 😉
Hi all, anyone recalls in Plaza Sing, there were those huge bronze statues?
I recall when I was a kid, I wil usually play by those things… Wonders what happened to them, and if anyone has some photos?
Wow, i remember those! right in the middle, and had a woman bronze statue. i have pics, i’m sure. not digital ones of cos. LOL.
It’s the sculpture of Contentment by Ng Eng Teng (made in 1974). It was moved to NUS in 2001.
His another work is outside Far East Shopping Centre. It’s called Mother and Child (made in 1980).
brilliant entry; such a labour of love for our past…I am interested to do a photographic project of old condominiums still existing in Singapore, at least those which are still standing. Do contact me at email@example.com if you think there are possibilities for collaboration.
Wow, I’ve limited knowledge of old condominiums in Singapore.. care to give some examples?
Btw, your photo of the facade of that old HDB flat is excellent!
Just the old playground image in the banner alone is enough to bring tears. Sigh… they should put a set in the museum. Great article. Thanks!
I want to express my utmost gratefulness of your posting. As a person who is plying my trade overseas and don’t get to visit home as often, your posting really warm up my heart. To me, those days of growing up are golden. Thanks again.
Wasn’t Peter Chew one of the first “smart” electronics and camera shops in the Specialists Centre? Before that I used to buy such stuff in Changi Village
Peter Chew’s was in Supreme House, now known as Park Mall.
I think you may have left out Pearl Centre and Outram Park Shopping center – these i recall are popular in the late 70s /early 80s?
DId you miss out Marine Parade shopping mall (still there, I think, though I left Singapore a couple of years ago)? I used to pass through often in the mornings on my way to meetings in the offices above and liked its reto-feel. Thanks for collecting these images – really interesting to see.
A nostalgic look at CK Tang…
The façade of the first CK Tang department store was at River Valley Road when CK Tang bought the property in 1939, where he built Gainurn Building, and established himself as the merchant who specialized in Chinese homewares and handicrafts.
CK Tang bought a stretch of Orchard Road after thinking to himself “If Shanghai can have its Nanjing Road where one million people pass through each day, why can’t Singapore have its own?”
Paying tribute to its humble roots, the new TANGS store was launched prominently using rickshaws in 1982.
The entrance to their bustling sale – a sight that’s still common till today.
Interesting write up. Know some of them, but also never aware some are so old already.
There’s also another shopping center not in the list – Singapore Shopping Center (next to Park Mall). This one seems quite old as well and its 1st floor corner is occupy by a antique store.
Any one got the old pic for Tiong Bahru Market? if yes pls share.
what a wonderful blog…! great to see the singapore of the 1980s in black and white. Hey btw, I am an independent researcher and doing a project for the national heritage board and looking at interviewing some kids from centrepoint kids, marina square kids, far east kids, daimaru kids and macdonalds kids of the 1980s. Do you have contacts of any of them ? Is anyone interested to talk to me about this? Pls call me at 96948927. My name is Rupi.
Some old photos of Tay Buan Guan
Does anyone remember if Daimaru opened a branch at Thomson plaza after Yaohan closed?
NTUC only shifted in in the mid noughties, who was the supermarket tenant from 1998-2003/4?
Hello Lippy, this reply is 1 1/2 years late, but hope you get to read this. I was a Thomson kid and now as an adult it is where you find me every week almost – i GREW UP in this mall, and even now it has a very special place in my heart and memories.
Anyway, enough of that sap, to answer your question – it wasn’t Daimaru, but for awhile Best Denki was in Thomson Plaza. I think you might have gotten it confused as we never had a Daimaru here. I did spend a large amount of time away from SG, but came back twice a year, so unless Daimaru opened and closed whilst I was away, i kinda doubt it was ever in Thomson Plaza.
Thomson Plaza had Yaohan, which was wonderful – they had a toy section that most kids like myself LOVED. They also sold groceries i think – which didn’t interest me at that age LoL! And they also had electronics and gadgets and just about anything and everything – think Fairprice meets Best Denki – it was the best of both worlds. Can you tell I miss Yaohan? We don’t quite have a similar place that sells groceries AND electronics – and have both in equal variety. Sigh.
Okay, when Yaohan closed in 97, 98 or so, it was what i call the “lean years” (98 to 2003) – we never had any supermarket at all!! Can you imagine that? I remember some time between 98 and 03, Best Denki came in – which was quite nice, cos you could pick up electronics there. I remember buying mini digital tapes there – LoL, this was before the days of SD cards! That’s what I loved about this time in Thomson plaza – you could readily pick up small, medium and even big electronics so easily.
I also remember picking up things like batteries and ear pieces too — very nice place if you need everyday items too. I miss this now. Sigh. Thomson Plaza now doesn’t have much electronics to offer these days. There’s Mini Challenger, but it doesn’t offer as many products as Best Denki does. I sure do miss Best Denki Thomson ………….. so sad. ;(
Anyhoo – When Fairprice moved in in early 2000’s, I think we all wept tears of joy – I’m exaggerating but you get the picture! I love Fairprice Thomson with all my heart! Finally we have a place to buy groceries and toiletries and other things. So maybe we can’t find electronics in Thomson anymore, but we can buy a chicken anytime we want now!
Hope this helps!!!
PS – My memory is very fuzzy about this – but didn’t Singapore have an electronics store called SAFE? It stood for Singapore Armed Forces Enterprise. They went out of biz i think – it used to be in Bishan junction 8. I am not sure but i think it was bought over and renamed Best Denki or Harvey Norman or something, – i often get the two mixed up. But i’m pretty sure the one in Thomson Plaza was Best Denki, but am not sure if it used to be called SAFE. Maybe someone can shed light on this?! Thanks!!!
I remember I used to patronised the 2 side-by-side CD shops in Thomson Plaza around 1989-1995. One of them is called Globe or something and the friendly Aunty there always help me reserve copies of CDs. Sadly the shops r no longer around.
Think Daimaru was in Bishan Junction8 before it closed… A few months after their 20th anniversary or something in around 2002-2004.
Another small neighbourhood shopping mall replaced by condo development…
Hougang Plaza (1996-2012)
I remember I used to play midnight bowling at the Visions Lanes Bowling Alley of Hougang Plaza with my friends during my university days (late 1990s), then proceeded for supper around that area until 3-4am… Nice memories
Hello there remember singapore!
By any chance you know where the vision lanes bowling shifted to?
I used to play at e game arcades in 1995. Sweet memories.
I wish i could move time to those days i used to hang out with friends in the early 1990s without any lawful problems. $10 dollars was enough to spend nearly half a day. I am sure my age group citizens would have missed those days too…… ): Nice blog Keep it up……. (:
Popular Holland V news-stand owner dies
The Straits Times
Published on Sep 21, 2013
By Melody Zaccheus
CUSTOMERS in Holland Village have paid tribute to popular news-stand owner Periathambi G., who died on Thursday. The 70-year-old – who was known as Mr Thambi and started distributing papers when he was eight – had been suffering from diabetes and kidney failure for more than a decade.
“It’s a loss to the community,” said Ms Irene K., a teacher in her 40s. “But he left behind a wonderful legacy and a professional, personalised and passionate approach to the newspaper business.”
The veteran owner opened Thambi Magazine Store in 1996, but the news-stand can trace its roots back to the 1960s, when Mr Thambi’s father would deliver newspapers on his bicycle when the area was a kampung. Today, the news-stand carries about 4,000 publications from around the world. Passionate about the business, Mr Thambi worked until his late 50s, when he fell ill. He fell into a coma on Thursday evening and died later that night.
“He has been in and out of the hospital but his death still came as a shock to us,” said his eldest son, Mr P. Senthilmurugan, 39, who runs the news-stand with his siblings, in-laws and mother. Second son P. Govindasamy, 33, added: “Even after my father fell ill, he would ask that we bring him to the shop. He would sit down with a cup of coffee, chat with the residents and ask our workers to tell him what had made the news that morning.”
Mr Thambi’s wake is being held at Block 20, Holland Drive. A procession will also take place today (21 Sep), stopping outside his shop and tracing one of his old newspaper delivery routes before leaving for the Mandai Crematorium at 5.30pm. The news-stand, which closed yesterday, will reopen on Monday.
A 1985 printed advertisement by Cold Storage at Goldhill Sqaure…
a can of A&W Root Beer cost $0.39 then
Thanks for doing up this list…beings back a lot of memories for me. This is one website that will live to tell a long story, 🙂
Wisma Atria’s iconic marine aquarium (1986-2008) certainly held a significant place in many Singaporeans’ memories 🙂
(Photo Credit: http://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/users/354879/)
I remember!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Coz my little cousin was fixated with this!!!!!!!! Sigh, why couldn’t thet leave this in? So not fair! So sad!
Bit long but the best post I have ever seen on internet about mall and shopping in Singapore.
Serangoon Plaza, formerly President Shopping Centre, was sold en bloc for $400m
The Straits Times
Monday, Nov 04, 2013
SERANGOON Plaza is better known as the home of the other Mustafa store, beside the well-known retailer’s 24-hour flagship in Mustafa Center.
But the five-storey freehold building at 320 Serangoon Road will now go down in the books for another reason: as the most expensive commercial property to be sold en bloc in Singapore. The development has been sold to its majority owner in a deal that values the office and retail complex at $400 million.
Feature Development, an associate of the Tong Eng group, already owns 90 per cent of the strata units. It will buy over the others, which are currently held by more than 10 other owners. The sale was brokered by Savills Singapore, which had set an indicative price of $360 million to $368 million. Feature Development withdrew from the sales committee to take part in the tender process at arm’s length, said Savills Singapore’s director of investment sales, Ms Suzie Mok.
“Commercial property is currently the most vibrant (real-estate) segment here, so Feature had to put in a strong bid,” she said. “It was a clear-cut winner in terms of price, terms, and fulfilling all the tender conditions.”
The tender closed on Thursday with Feature’s offer, which works out to $1,946 per sq ft of maximum floor area, tops. The company bought into the building in 1985. It is related to Tong Eng, the developer of several residential projects here, including Poshgrove East in East Coast Road and Three Balmoral in Balmoral Road.
Built in the mid-1960s as President Shopping Centre, Serangoon Plaza comprises 128 strata retail and office units. All the unit owners agreed to the building’s sale, which means the deal will not need the Strata Titles Board’s approval. The buyer will not have to pay a development charge to redevelop the property, as the current building is under-utilising its space allowance.
Serangoon Plaza sits on a 68,521 sq ft plot that can host a building with 205,563 sq ft of floor space. The complex’s floor area now is only 104,765 sq ft.
The property’s sale also marks one of the largest en bloc deals in recent years. It is likely the biggest collective sale since Westwood Apartments was sold for $435 million in November 2007. The transaction caps a good year for collective sales of non-residential property. At least four other commercial and industrial buildings have been sold en bloc since January.
They are: San Centre in Chin Swee Road, Bright Chambers in Bugis, and Henley Industrial Building and Pak Chong Building off Upper Paya Lebar Road.
Dear Remember Singapore, Katong Shopping Centre is still survived and has been not re-developed!
Bukit Timah Plaza and Holland Road Shopping Centre in the 1980s!
(Photo credit: Facebook Group “On a little street in Singapore”)
Hmm, you left out the Golden Landmark Shopping Centre in your post too! 😀
i remember as a child, my mum brought me to a department store called Cortina. Its logo was something like a globe and there was a small fountain with this globe thing in the middle. It’s a multi-storey shopping centre with a coffee house. But I was too young to know where it’s located. Anyone knows what i am talking about?
Yes, I remember visiting Cortina on many occassions as a boy in the 70s. It was on North Bridge Road, I think.
Am moving this month to Singapore. Thanks a lot for the massive informative post about Singapore malls. I would love to see in real them.
There are some really nice to see pics of about singapore malls with detail . which is really nice to useful for investment. and any other work. thanks to share it.
I am a Thomson kid, Thomson Plaza holds literally a lifetime of memories for me! I might have to get rope and tie myself to the building in protest if they ever think of tearing it down – that’s how much my life is intertwined with that mall. Just as most of have memories tied into buildings, schools and malls of our childhood and growing up years. Thank you for this fabulous post.
Thank you for putting KSC first on the list. I used to skip classes when I was in CCHB (another school that does not exist anymore) to play games there. It got so bad that they have to ban anyone wearing school uniform. These days I only go back to Singapore once every 3 years or more and the last time I was back (2010), I still paid KSC a visit.
Katong Complex (named Katong Mall) on Joo Chiat and East Coast Road was redeveloped for the present I12 Katong. This site was originally by an old Katong wet market where my mother and I went for buying fish and meat.
I feel Jurong Entertainment Centre should make the list. It is gone now.
thanks for the great article!
Can anyone remember the awesome stores during late 80s to early 90s ? I loved Flyers at Centrepoint and Studio Tangs. Those were the coolest n hip stores I enjoyed going during my teens. I also enjoyed Chomel boutique: they used to sell lovely clothes and beautyful hair accessories like ribbons and so on. Would give a life to go back in time again 😥
There used to be a shop call Zone at the basement of Marina Square selling they hippiest and trendiest labels like ixi:z!!!
mustafa center, belanja 24 jam nonstop
info menarik nih thanks
I worked in Singapore in the mid 90s Can anyone remember the name of a very large project possible a Mall . Name something like Sun City.
Is it the Suntec City?
There used to be a small neighbourhood market and a row of shophouses called Venus Shopping Centre along Upper Thomson Road, near the junction turning into Sin Ming Avenue, in between Thomson Plaza and Singapore Island Country Club.
Just when you think strata-titled malls are safe from the big players….
Katong Shopping Centre may soon go on sale en bloc for $630m
8 June 2016
The Straits Times
The landmark Katong Shopping Centre could soon be making a third attempt at a collective sale, this time with an asking price of about $630 million. More than 80 per cent of the owners by share value and total area of the 425-unit mall agreed to the proposed sale.
City Developments (CDL) owns 60 units and 323 carpark spaces at the mall, which is one of the oldest in Singapore.
The complex with a striking blue exterior, which cost a CDL subsidiary $20 million to build, was the most modern and largest mall in the east when it opened in 1973. Today, it mainly caters to maid agencies, printing shops and textile and clothes outlets, with offices on the upper floors. The 90,000 sq ft site with a plot ratio of 3.0 is zoned for commercial and residential use.
However, Cushman & Wakefield, which is handling the sale, has applied for outline planning permission for full commercial use, which would be in keeping with its current use. It is also proposing additional gross floor area for medical suites.
Many units at the freehold mall are leased out. Some tenants told The Straits Times yesterday that a potential sale would not affect them as they would just move, but others lamented the hassle.
“It’s not so easy to find an affordable place,” said aquarium shop owner Chan Kheng Siang. Mr Chan, who has been a tenant for 31/2 years, pays $1,000 a month for a basement space of just over 200 sq ft.
Mr Daniel Lee, who pays about $4,000 a month for 360 sq ft on the first floor where he runs a watch shop, shared similar sentiments.
“Rents at new shopping centres are pretty high. But this is an old building and it needs upgrading. (A sale en bloc) will eventually have to happen,” he said.
The owner of a tailoring business on the basement level said he had mixed feelings about a sale. “I had been hoping to leave it to my child, but am also happy to completely retire from the business,” said Mr Sam Ho, 83. Mr Ho bought his 230 sq ft unit for about $43,500 when the building was first built. He now stands to get about $900,000.
Experts noted that a sale could be challenging, assuming a land price of over $2,000 per sq ft per plot ratio. “The market is very price-sensitive… The best scheme for the site would be retail with perhaps offices as well,” said Chestertons managing director Donald Han.
The challenge would be the big-ticket nature of over $500 million, although there could be foreign interest based on recent transactions, including the Shunfu Ville and Cuscaden Road sites, he added.
Potential interest could also depend on what sites are made available via the Government Land Sales programme for the second half of the year. These are expected to be revealed later this week.
Still, “the days of buying sites to develop, strata title and sell at lofty prices are over”, said Mr Han. Commercial strata sales have slumped with the imposition of the Total Debt Servicing Ratio. “The best approach would be to build, operate and keep on a longer-term basis.”
A retiree and Katong resident who wanted to be known as Madam Gan said a collective sale is a good idea. She used to take her children to the mall and now takes her grandchildren there at least once a week for enrichment classes.
“I’ve shopped here from the time it was built. There were very few malls in the area and the clothes were very fashionable. A redevelopment would give this place a new lease of life.”
Separately, Jalan Besar Plaza was yesterday launched for collective sale with a minimum asking price of $380 million.
The 45-year-old Park Mall will be closed and demolished after September 2016
From fashion haven to furniture hub
09 July 2016
The Straits Times
Park Mall has made the furniture retail business its calling card over the past 21 years, but the ageing mall went through several reinventions and a few owners before finding its niche.
The current 15-storey building opened in 1971. It was then known as Supreme House.
Back then, its anchor tenant, department store Metro, drew the crowds. Skillets Coffee House – a 24-hour cafe that was renamed Silver Spoon in 1980 – was also popular before its lease was not renewed in 2003.
The first change of owners for the mall came when Supreme Holdings sold the building to property and lifestyle company Wing Tai Holdings for $168 million in 1989.
Wing Tai renamed it Park Mall and positioned it as a fashion haven. After a 15-month, $40 million refurbishment, the mall reopened with Style Singapore, an umbrella retailer for leading local independent fashion designers, as one of its biggest tenants. It closed in 1994 after incurring losses of $2 million.
In 1995, the mall’s owners decided to focus on furniture and home furnishings.
Danish concept store Bolig became Park Mall’s anchor tenant, only to give way to others such as Xtra,Living & Giving, a company specialising in home accessories, and Studio Line, which sold beds from Germany.
The switch to a furniture hub proved a good move. Wing Tai hit its $100 million target that it had projected for itself. In 2005, Suntec Reit acquired Park Mall from Wing Tai for $230 million. Last December, a joint venture acquired Park Mall for $411.8million.
The 45-year-old mall will be demolished and redeveloped into two office blocks with a retail component, though plans have yet to be finalised.
John Little to close last Singapore store by December
05 November 2016
The Straits Times
After 174 years, John Little is closing its last department store in Singapore. The remaining outlet in Plaza Singapura will shutter by the end of December.
In a statement on Friday (Nov 4), Robinsons Group – which manages John Little, the oldest department store in Singapore – said that the decision was made “after evaluating the relevancy and sustainability of the John Little brick-and-mortar business”.
But it does not mark the end of the John Little brand. Robinsons Group said that John Little will instead “evolve as a brand into a pop up format, which is in line with the global trend for retail businesses”.
John Little’s new format will be revealed next year. The closure is part of the consolidation efforts to focus on businesses that are growing within the Group, the statement said.
The Al-Futtaim Group – the Dubai-based owner of Robinsons Group, Royal Sporting House and other retail brands – announced plans earlier this year to shut 10 loss-making outlets here under its distribution and retailing arm RSH.
John Little had seven branches in 2002, including its flagship store at Specialists’ Shopping Centre, which it vacated in 2007, after more than 20 years. Its outlet at Jurong Point shopping mall was the penultimate to close, shutting its doors earlier this year.
Staff affected by the closure of John Little have been briefed, and will be deployed to other businesses within the organisation, which includes Robinsons and Marks and Spencer, Robinsons Group’s statement said.
John Little Plaza Singapura will be holding a moving out sale offering discounts up to 90 per cent until it shutters.
Great article, thank you so much Remember Singapore. Does anyone remember “The Orchard”? It was definitely still around in the mid 70s and I believe it took over the space from Champion Motors (VW dealership). Probably it did not have enough floors to justify occupying the piece of prime real estate and hence was gone not long after it was built.
Fitzpatrick’s 81老同事 阔别32年再聚首
I was born here in 1987 and I now cannot even remember what Yeohan looked like.
Sim Lim Square was my favorite hangout for PC parts from 2000-2013. Now, other than a few select items like CPUs and motherboards, there’s zero reason for smart shoppers to visit there anymore with online shopping. At this rate its gonna be a ghost town by 2020.
Also with the rise of online shopping, I believe Singapore as a whole is very overretailed.
Malaysia’s first shopping mall will be redeveloped soon…
Time to say goodbye to the country’s first shopping mall
24 December 2017
The first thing you notice when you walk into the soon-to-be shuttered Ampang Park Shopping Centre here is the air of desolation that hangs over the whole place.
Most of the shops have closed and tenants moved out; there are signs shouting out “SALE” but nobody is buying. Some shops look like they have been hurriedly vacated; the empty lots strewn with broken furniture, shelves and papers.
Some Christmas decorations could be seen in the mall and the song “Love is the Answer” streaming from the public address system the day Malay Mail visited underlined how sad the whole place felt.
The country’s first shopping mall which opened in 1973 will call it a day at the end of the month and some of the remaining shops will operate till then.
“They are making a mistake by tearing down this mall. It is all talk about development now but they will never have a mall like this again,” said Hwan Man Lee, the owner of a watch shop on the ground floor.
“I will be shifting to Avenue K nearby but it is not because I want to, but because I have to. We have been told to move out and make way.”
Hwan, 60, who has been running the shop for nearly 20 years said he would miss the simple things like parents coming to buy their children their first watch.
“For many people in KL, this was the place to be. The parents now bringing their children to shop here had first come as children when the mall was new.
“It is a sentimental place for many people. Of course I’m moving and there are other malls, but it will not be the same because of the time I have spent here and the people I have met,” he said, adding that frequent customers came by just to talk and say hello.
Another shopkeeper, Jennifer Lee, 55, who runs Haby & Wools, a craft and knitting supplies shop on the second floor expressed unhappiness at the way they were told to leave.
“It is cruel. We were told that the utilities would be turned off at midnight on Dec 31. Imagine that, while others celebrate New Year’s, it will be lights out for good here,” she said with tears welling up in her eyes.
Lee, who runs the shop with her sister Jenny, 45, said the shop had been in the family for three generations but now its future was uncertain.
“We have not received any compensation nor have we been helped with securing another shop. It really feels like we are just being thrown out.
“My great grandfather, who moved here in 1973 from Robinson’s Department store (Jalan Mountbatten), would be heartbroken to see what has become of his shop,” she said.
While most of the shops hardly saw any customers, one shop is still doing roaring business. When lunchtime rolled around, a crowd suddenly appeared in the mall… to eat at Cozy Corner.
“People love our food and we will continue to serve our valued customers till December 24, when we start to pack and move to Ampang Point,” said restaurant manager Cham Hui Ming.
“The restaurant has been around about 39 years. Of course I feel that the mall should be left as a heritage site and tourist draw but that does not matter to those who have signed away the place to be demolished,” she said.
Cham said she expected a slight downturn with the move but was optimistic about customers returning once it had been re-established.
“We have announced that we will leave and set up at a new place. I am confident that at least some of our regulars will look for us and hopefully a new crowd come in.
“It is not that we want to leave, we have to leave. And where this mall stands will be a rail line. Let’s see what people think about all this in the future, if they even care that is.”
Ampang Park Shopping Centre was considered a radical departure from traditional shoplots when it was first built; shops in the mall face inwards to an internal street, or atrium.
It paved the way for other malls in the city such as Pertama Complex in Chow Kit which opened in 1976, Sungei Wang Plaza in 1977 in the Bukit Bintang area, and Kota Raya and Sogo which opened in 1991 and 1994.
It was designed by the architect firm that designed Singapore’s People’s Park Complex, the Design Partnership Ptd Ltd, together with Kuala Lumpur-based architect Thomas A.S. Tiang.
On June 1, a Federal Court three-man panel led by Chief Justice Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif dismissed the application of the strata owners and tenants to obtain leave to appeal against the dismissal of their judicial review by the High Court and Court of Appeal.
This put an end to the legal challenge posed by 39 strata owners and tenants who had opposed the demolition of the mall to make way for the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit project.
It’s a nice neighbourhood mall. Visited when I stayed at the Crown Princess Hotel opposite. I remember the watchshop and the photo developing shop which I patronised!
Wow, nice article. Remember almost all listed here. Sad that we just keep demolishing/ refurbish, No more old charms. Now modern shopping centres (downtown or heartland) all look similar cookie cut.
—know of Apollo Centre?
where’s parklane shopping mall? opened in 1974 at selegie road if im corect
Incomplete info of the Sembawang shopping center, like when was it build. I only know it already exist during the 1990s with an antique store on 3rd floor or 4th floor corner.
There was the shop Sembawang Music (which went into selling CDs later on and expanded to a few branches b4 closing due to challenges from the internet music era)….. and the Chinese-Thai czechar (Bei Sheng) at the basement food court next to another stall that specialises in excellent Pineapple Rice.
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Tanglin Shopping Centre sold to Royal Golden Eagle for $868m, 10% above reserve price
23 February 2022
The Straits Times
Tanglin Shopping Centre, one of Orchard Road’s oldest retail landmarks, has been sold en bloc at $868 million to a developer held by the Indonesian Chinese family behind Singapore-based resources giant RGE (Royal Golden Eagle).
It was fourth time lucky for the freehold 364-unit commercial complex, which was sold for $40 million above its guide price of $828 million, according to Savills Singapore, its marketing agent.
The $868 million price works out to $2,769 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) based on the gross floor area (GFA) of 313,435 sq ft and assuming full commercial usage.
The buyer is Pacific Eagle Real Estate (PER), a Singapore-based real estate investor and developer privately held by the Tanoto family. Mr Sukanto Tanoto, ranked as one of Forbes’ Indonesia’s 50 richest billionaires in 2021, owns RGE.
For over 50 years, the Tanoto family, through RGE, founded and managed businesses in natural fibres, edible oils, green packaging and natural gas.
Mr Galven Tan, deputy managing director, investment sales & capital markets, said the marketing campaign ran by Savills “resulted in a competitive bidding exercise which resulted in a price that is 10 per cent above the reserve price” of $785 million.
Its previous attempt in 2011 had a reserve price of $1.25 billion, which was not met, and its second and third attempts did not reach the public tender stage.
Pacific Eagle Real Estate director Sun You Ning, said: “Tanglin Shopping Centre is one of Singapore’s earliest retail landmarks and occupies a prominent location next to the St. Regis Hotel in the Orchard Road enclave.”
It previously purchased en bloc Chinatown Plaza at 34 Craig Road, which is now being redeveloped into Mondrian Singapore Duxton, a luxury lifestyle hotel.
Jeremy Lake, managing director, investment sales & capital markets, said the tender for Tanglin Shopping Centre was keenly contested.
“The key appeal of the site is it being a freehold commercial site, which allows buyers the flexibility of various development options,” he added.
The 68,512 sq ft freehold site is zoned commercial, with 60 per cent of the total GFA for commercial use and the remaining 40 per cent for residential and/or hotel uses. The commercial zoning means there is no additional buyers’ stamp duty payable.
Savills said developers will have multiple development options ranging from office, luxury retail, residential and hotel.
Tanglin Shopping Centre is a 12-storey complex with two basement levels and an annex eight-storey carpark. The development has 364 retail and office units. Its main complex was completed in the 1970s, while the office tower extension was completed in early 1980s.
Centrepoint kids and Yaohan: Book captures S’pore’s 1980s ‘mall generation’
1 June 2022
The Straits Times
One particular memory is etched fondly in independent scholar Liew Kai Khiun’s mind – a school day he spent in a mall.
In 1981, then aged eight, Dr Liew tried to skip school by telling his mum he was ill and she agreed.
A few hours later, the supposedly ill boy found himself in the toy section of department store Yaohan in Thomson Plaza with his mother, eyeing a Millennium Falcon toy priced at about $150.
“Even as a boy in the 1980s, I knew it was prohibitively expensive,” writes Dr Liew in his new book, The Singapore Mall Generation: History, Imagination, Community.
“Miraculously, she agreed to purchase it for me.”
Today, more than four decades after his mother yielded to his toy request, Dr Liew, 49, still counts himself fortunate for that day, which has since become a significant memory marker of his childhood.
He described the book – which he edited and comprises 10 chapters, some by contributors – as a heritage project that captures Singapore’s post-independence, contemporary history largely set in the 1980s, when Singaporeans evolved together as part of a modern nation.
National Development Minister Desmond Lee, who was guest of honour at the book’s launch at the National Library Building in Victoria Street on Monday evening (May 30), said malls have become an important part of many Singaporeans’ lives, noting that they are intertwined with cherished personal memories for many, such as the place of their first date.
“For me it was Jurong Point, we were playing Puzzle Bobble,” said Mr Lee, who added that he had spent a lot of time in the recently conserved Golden Mile Complex in his early childhood.
Comparing the malls that sprouted in 1970s and 1980s Singapore with real estate investment trust (Reit)-owned malls of today, Dr Liew said the malls of the past – many of them strata-titled – offered an eclectic mix of businesses that were a fertile ground for the growth of subcultures among the young people that hung out in them.
But today’s Reit malls are highly curated and have a predictable suite of offerings, many of them housing a similar mix of chain stalls, branches and franchises, added Dr Liew.
“A religious amulet shop could exist right beside one selling extreme metal music – it’s this mishmash that makes old malls a lot more colourful,” he said.
Book contributor Roy Kheng, 48, who co-wrote a chapter with Dr Liew for the book, added that new malls are highly conservative and risk averse.
“You will almost never see a tattoo parlour in these malls, even if the artist is world famous, because he’s considered a liability,” he said.
In the book, Dr Liew noted that in the 1980s, Singapore’s contemporary youth cultures became synonymous with malls and discotheques, with references to “Far East kids” and “Centrepoint kids” often seen in the media.
But those terms and communities, once “perceived by the public as a disturbing display of youth deviance”, have now become a nostalgic reference to ageing malls, wrote Dr Liew.
He said that with the proliferation of social media, today’s youth no longer go to malls to “exhibit and showcase themselves, and meet up with others”, contributing to a decreased interrelation between malls and youth culture.
While young people still hang out in malls today, said Dr Liew, he noted that the frequency and length of time spent has decreased compared with previous generations.
Despite this, architectural photographer Darren Soh, 46, argued in his chapter that some old, strata-titled malls will continue to thrive despite becoming rarer, as they have evolved into institutions whose shoes new Reit-owned malls cannot fill.
Citing Queensway Shopping Centre, which has over time developed its niche as the place to shop for sporting goods, Mr Soh said he believes such “specialised strata-titled malls” will continue to service those who want multiple shops to choose from when purchasing a specific item.
Owners of niche shops at Queensway are doing so well that they see no need to back any attempt for a collective sale of the shopping centre, he noted in his chapter, referencing a failed attempt to sell en bloc in 2019.
The book, published by Marshall Cavendish Business and supported by the National Heritage Board, is on sale at all major bookstores and online shops at $32 before GST.
Hi, not sure if anyone remember old Albert complex where they sell watches?
Appreciate if can provide old photos of it.
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