Goodbye to the old Golden Shoe Hawker Centre

Many refer it to the Golden Shoe Hawker Centre, although its formal name was known as the Market Street Food Centre. Located at second and third levels of the Golden Shoe Carpark, the 33-year old food centre was formerly one of the most popular eating places at Raffles Place and Shenton Way.

The hawker centre had 56 stalls, serving a wide variety of affordable and delicious local food such as nasi lemak, chicken rice, roti prata, bak chor mee and fish soup. It was a common sight to see congested crowds, “choped” tables with tissues and long queues at the stalls during the lunch hours from Mondays and Fridays.

On 31 July 2017, the stalls were shuttered for the final time, bringing an end to its 33 years’ history. An interim hawker centre has been set up next to the Telok Ayer MRT Station at Cross Street.

The old Golden Shoe Carpark will be demolished and replaced by a new 51-storey integrated tower made up of offices, serviced residence, carparks and retail shops. One level will be reserved for a food court, which will be occupied by most of the former Market Street Food Centre stallholders. When completed in 2021, the building will be one of the tallest at Raffles Place.

The name “Golden Shoe” refers to the piece of prime land at the city area in the sixties and seventies. The 80-acre district, shaped like a shoe, was bounded by Collyer Quay, Raffles Quay, Shenton Way, Telok Ayer Street, Church Street, Boat Quay and Fullerton Square. It was where the most crowded and expensive office space could be found in Singapore, especially at the likes of Robinson Road, Change Alley, Raffles Place, Cecil Street and Market Street.

In 1970, the government announced the urban renewal project for the Golden Shoe district, hoping to attract influxes of investment capital and redeveloping the vicinity to match the prestigious “Golden Mile” that was fronting the Nicoll Highway. Under the Controlled Premises (Special Provisions) Act, landlords could evict tenants under certain conditions, in order to free up property for redevelopment.

Thousands of small businessmen and shopkeepers were affected. Many of them were sub-tenants, and had been doing businesses at the district since the 1940s. The move, however, was applauded by the various chambers of commerce in Singapore, pointing out that the rent-controlled premises and a shortage of good class office accommodation had been a hindrance to the development of Singapore’s prime district as a financial centre.

The compensation process soon kicked off, and many old shophoues and buildings were demolished. Within a few years, rents and land values at Raffles Place and Shenton Way rose rapidly. By the early seventies, many new skyscrapers were erected, such as the $10-million Cecil House, and the $80-million Ocean Building.

The Golden Shoe Carpark building was opened in May 1984 at a construction cost of $50 million. Its massive 1,074 parking lots was able to ease the increasing demand of carpark space in the city. 500 lots were initially reserved for season parking, which was offered at a rate of $130 per month, similar to that of the nearby Market Street Carpark.

The 10-storey building also came with three floors of hawker stalls, 17 shops, a restaurant and even a petrol kiosk at its ground level. Some of the early tenants at Golden Shoe Carpark were the minimart owned by Siang Heng Brothers and the famous Noodle Garden Restaurant.

In November 1984, the Market Street Food Centre at Golden Shoe Carpark building was officially opened by Ong Pang Boon, the Minister for the Environment. Within a short time, the new hawker centre established itself as a popular eating place among the workers at Raffles Place.

The first generation of the stallholders at the hawker centre were the street hawkers formerly plying their trades at D-Almeida Street and the back lanes of Market Street and South Bridge Road. The relocation of the street hawkers to a proper food centre was part of the government’s effort to clear all food hawking off the streets by the late eighties.

The Central Business District (CBD) has been constantly evolving. One of its changes was the demolition of old carparks and the subsequent redevelopment of their sites. This included the Raffles Place Carpark (closed in 1984), Empress Place Carpark (closed in 1989), Fullerton Square Carpark (1954-1989) and the Market Street Carpark, Singapore’s first multi-storey carpark (1964-2014).

Published: 14 August 2017

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