When RemSG blog was first set up in October 2010, it was largely due to the inspiration by the excellent Old Places documentary (by local director Royston Tan). Lamenting the loss of the good old National Library and other iconic landmarks, as well as a growing sentiment of nostalgia, there was a strong need to document some of the disappearing things in Singapore.
A decade has since passed in a blink of eye. While this year 2020 is certainly not the best year to remember, the coming new decade is still very much worth looking forward to. But let us first do a recap of the past 10 years – what are the new changes, and what had vanished into history.
For major landmarks and attractions, Singapore added the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) to its city skyline in 2010, when it was officially opened on 23 June. It would have another grand opening on 17 February 2011. A year later, on 21 December 2012, it was the grand opening of Singapore’s other integrated resort Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), which brought along the popular Universal Studios (opened in 2010) and S.E.A. Aquarium (2012).
Two more places of interest – Gardens by the Bay and the River Safari – opened in 2012 and 2014 respectively. In 2019, Singapore welcomed its latest attraction in the $1.7 billion Jewel Changi Airport, which is designed with the world’s tallest indoor waterfall named the Rain Vortex.
While the new attractions are welcomed, we also bid goodbye to some of the older attractions. Sentosa, as the popular tourist destination, has seen the demise of its Underwater World (1991-2016), Tiger Sky Tower (2004-2018) and the gigantic 37m-tall Merlion (1995-2019) in the past decade.
They had joined the fate of the past iconic attractions and landmarks of Sentosa, such as the Monorail, Musical Fountain, Fountain Gardens, Asian Village, Fantasy Island and Volcanoland.
The Maritime Experiential Museum (2011-2020) of RWS, on the other hand, was opened in 2011 but dissolved in March 2020. It will make way for the extension of the S.E.A. Aquarium, which will be rebranded as the Singapore Oceanarium.
Malls & Commercial Buildings
“The only constant in life is change.” A perfect description for Singapore as well, where changes and redevelopments happen every year. Dozens of landmarks and buildings were demolished, redeveloped and replaced by the newer ones.
Starting the list are several decades-old malls. Eminent Plaza (1980s-2014) was pulled down in 2014, together with its neighbour Lavender Food Square along Jalan Besar, and was replaced by a new office tower called ARC 380.
Along Serangoon Road, Serangoon Plaza (1960s-2017), formerly known as President Shopping Centre, ceased to exist after more than 50 years. It was sold for $400 million in 2013, and was demolished in 2017. A new Centrium Square is expected to emerge at its site by late 2021.
Park Mall (1971-2016), a popular destination for furniture and home furnishings, was brought down in 2016. Located at Penang Road, it was first opened as Supreme House. Evolving from retail to fashion and finally a furniture mall, it eventually walked into history after 45 years. Standing in its place now is Citadines Connect City Centre.
Chinatown Plaza (1983-2019) at Craig Road was sold for $260 million in May 2018, and demolition works began a year later.
The Verge (2003-2017), or formerly Tekka Mall, situated along Selegie Road, lasted only 14 years, making it one of the shortest-lived shopping malls in Singapore. Standing in its place will be the new Tekka Place, an integrated commercial and residential complex.
Near the short-lived mall was the former Tiger Balm Building (1930s-2019), a longtime landmark at the junction of Selegie Road and Short Street. The four storey building was torn down in 2019, after more than 70 years of existence.
Pearls Centre (1977-2016), located along Eu Tong Sen Street, was closed in 2015 and torn down a year later. The complex was well-known for its retail shops, eateries and a softcore cinema named Yangtze Theatre.
The old Funan Centre (1985-2016), a popular place for IT gadgets. was rejuvenated in 2016. The old building was torn down and replaced with Funan Mall, a new mixed used development complex, with retail mall, office towers and service apartments.
One of the most recent commercial buildings to be affected by redevelopment projects was Liang Court (1985-early 2020s), a mixed complex of mall, hotel (Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay) and service apartments. Located at River Valley Road, its twin brown towers have been an iconic landmark along the Singapore River since 1985. With most of its tenants moved out in early 2020, the 35-year-old Liang Court will be pulled down soon.
Same goes for Shaw Tower (1976-early 2020s) at Beach Road, whose tenants received the redevelopment news in 2018 and have moved out of the premises in June 2020. The demolition may be carried out in the near future.
Coming up in the 2020s are the Tengah New Town and Bidadari Estate, developed by the Housing and Development Board (HDB). The Tengah New Town will comprise five housing districts with 42,000 Built-to-Order (BTO) flats, whereas the Bidadari Estate will have 10,000 units.
In the midst of the ongoing construction of the new towns and housing estates, the older ones are being phased out. Dakota Crescent (1958-early 2020s) and Redhill Close (1955-early 2020s) are now vacant and boarded up, with their Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats awaiting for demolition. Tanglin Halt will soon join them as we move into the new decade.
And at Tanglin Halt, a row of its Commonwealth Drive HDB flats (1962-2016), fondly known as chup lau chu (“ten storey houses” in Hokkien), had already been torn down. Many of the other residents as well as the small shopowners and businesses in the small neighbourhood have also started to move out.
Elsewhere, the Rochor Centre HDB Flats (1977-2019), a prominent colourful landmark located at junction of Rochor Road and Ophir Road, were emptied by end-2016 and demolished three years later.
Dozen of other HDB flats had been selected and demolished under the Selective En-Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) in the past decade.
These flats were located at Sims Drive, Clementi Avenue 1 and 5, Boon Lay Drive, Teban Gardens, Yung Ping Road, Henderson Road, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, Ghim Moh Road, Zion Road, Havelock Road, Upper Boon Keng Road, Toa Payoh Lorong 5 and Commonwealth Avenue.
The old Woodlands Town Centre (1980-2017), a small neighbourhood that was located just beside the Causeway and had functioned for many years as the stopover for commuters between Singapore and Johor, was gone by 2017, together with its flats, shops, hawker centre, bus interchange and Woodlands Cinema.
Beside the en-bloc HDB flats, several Housing and Urban Development Company (HUDC) estates had also been sold through collective sales, with their sites redeveloped into new condominiums.
Shunfu Ville (1986-2016), Eunosville (1987-2017), Raintree Gardens (1984-2016), Rio Casa (1986-2017) and Serangoon Ville (1986-2017) were all torn down in the past 10 years, with the latest being Normanton Park (1977-2018).
At Jalan Kayu, the redevelopment of Seletar West Farmway into a light industrial estate has seen the demolition of one of Singapore’s last rural centres. The low rise flats of the former Jalan Kayu Rural Centre (late 1970s-2016) were used as foreign worker dormitories in their final few years.
The good old National Stadium (1973-2010) was demolished as Singapore entered the decade of 2010s. It had given many Singaporeans the fond memories of the Malaysia Cup matches and the famous Kallang Roar. In its place now is the Singapore Sports Hub.
Jurong Stadium (1973-2020), also constructed in 1973, fared a decade better, as it lasted until 2020, although in its last few years, it was in a state of disrepair with only a few events and activities held.
A number of public swimming pools had met their demise in the past 10 years. Buona Vista Swimming Complex (1976-2014) and Bedok Swimming Complex (1981-2018) were demolished after more than 30 years of serving the residents. Elsewhere, the Old Police Academy Swimming Pool (1976-2015) made way in 2015 for the new Mount Pleasant MRT Station.
The Bulim Bus Depot, Loyang Bus Depot and Seletar Bus Deport are new bus depots that are built by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) between 2015 and 2018. Several old bus interchanges are also upgraded to new integrated public transport hubs.
The old Bedok Bus interchange (1979-2011), in 2011, was torn down and replaced by an integrated development of condominium, bus interchange and shopping mall that are linked to the Bedok MRT Station.
Similarly, the old Yishun Bus Interchange (1987-2015) was demolished in 2015. It took four years for its site to be redeveloped into North Park Residences, Northpoint City and a fully air-conditioned bus interchange.
Elsewhere, the old Jurong East Bus Interchange (1985-2011) had its former site occupied by Westgate, whereas the previous Bukit Panjang Bus Interchange (1999-2012) was replaced by Hillion Mall and Hillion Residences. Both new towns are still using temporary bus interchanges built near the old ones.
Meanwhile, the Serangoon Bus Interchange (1988-2011), after its bus operations were ceased in 2011, has its building converted into a multi-storey carpark and community hub.
Local food lovers may lament the loss of several popular hawker centres and eateries in Singapore in the past 10 years.
The Commonwealth Avenue Food Centre (1969-2011), Long House Food Centre (1980-2014), Lavender Food Square (1980s-2014) (previously called Bugis Square) and Market Street Food Centre (1984-2017), or fondly known as Golden Shoe Hawker Centre, had all but faded into the history.
The Golden Bridge (1973-2015) at Shenton Way was a unique one. It was one of the few overhead bridges in Singapore that housed eateries. It was eventually closed in 2014 and demolished a year later.
Numerous neighbourhood cinemas were, by the 2000s and 2010s, a pale shadow of their former selves; their heydays in the eighties and nineties were never going to return.
The Queenstown/Queensway Cinema (1977-1999, demolished in 2013) was torn down in 2013 as Queenstown underwent intensive redevelopment. At the east side, Bedok’s Princess Cinema (1983-2008, demolished in 2018) was closed in 2008 and had its building bulldozed a decade later. In its place now is DjitSun Bedok Mall.
Likewise, many buildings of former cinemas, such as Regal Theatre at Bukit Merah Town Centre, Republic Theatre at Marine Parade Road, Empress Cinema at Clementi Town Centre, Singapura Cinema at Changi Road, Hollywood Theatre at Tanjong Katong and New Crown/New Town Cinema at Ang Mo Kio Town Centre, were all demolished in the 2010s, many years after their closure.
By the 2010s, there were only a few sand-based playgrounds left in Singapore. The Toa Payoh dragon playground, the most iconic of all, was fortunately retained during the demolition of its nearby HDB flats (Block 28, 30, 32 and 33).
The little sparrow playground at Clementi Town Centre, however, was removed when several of its neighbouring old blocks were torn down.
At Bukit Batok, the dove playground was also demolished in the early 2010s, replaced by a new modern playground. The other dove playground at Dakota Crescent may also meet the same fate now that the former SIT estate is undergoing redevelopment.
But it was the pelican playground, the last in Singapore, at Dover Road that had many Singaporeans lamenting its loss. Abandoned and dilapidated, it was eventually flattened in mid-2012.
For many, the merry-go-rounds were their favourite part of a typical old playground. Two of them had disappeared in the past decade – one at Upper Seletar Reservoir, and the other, an authentic merry-go-round that were commonly seen in the eighties and nineties, at Begonia Road.
The merry-go-round at Tiong Bahru’s train playground is the last existing piece in Singapore.
Numerous schools, active as well as former campuses, were demolished in the past decade. Braddell-Westlake Secondary School (merged in 2000, closed in 2005) at Braddell Road had been left vacant for many years and was eventually bulldozed in 2017. A new campus for Raffles Girls’ School has since being built at its former site.
First Toa Payoh Secondary School (1968-2016), Toa Payoh’s first ever secondary school, had several mergers after 2000. After its last merger, with Bartley Secondary School, it officially walked into history and was demolished in 2017.
The former school premises of Broadrick Secondary School and Maju Secondary School at Dakota Crescent (1968-2016) were briefly used by Northlight School between 2007 and 2015, when Broadrick and Maju Secondary Schools merged and relocated to another nearby campus. The old school buildings were demolished in 2016.
At other places, the school premises of former Ang Mo Kio North Primary School (1983-2019), used by Chaoyang School in recent years, and the former Institute of Technical Education (ITE) Bishan (1994-2013) (acted as the holding campus for Saint Joseph’s Institution between 2013 and 2019), located at the junction of Bishan Street 13 and 14, were both torn down in 2019.
The former Outram Campus of Nanyang Polytechnic (1992-1998) along Jalan Bukit Merah was left abandoned for more than a decade, before it was leveled in 2016 with its site becoming part of the expanded Singapore General Hospital (SGH).
In 2017, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced that a number of schools would be subjected to mergers, including the junior colleges (JC). It was the first time in history that JCs were merged and several names had since walked into the history books.
In 2019, Jurong Junior College (1981-2019) was merged with Pioneer Junior College (2000-2019) to form Jurong Pioneer Junior College, located at Teck Whye Walk. Serangoon Junior College (1988-2019) was merged into Anderson Junior College, whereas Tampines Junior College (1986-2019) and Innova Junior College (2005-2019) combined with Meridian Junior College and Yishun Junior College respectively.
Changes also occurred in Singapore’s extensive road network. A new expressway – Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE) – was opened in December 2013 as Singapore’s 10th expressway. The construction of a new North-South Corridor (NSC) is underway.
Tuas South Boulevard, built in the early 2010s, became Singapore’s westernmost road. Lornie Highway was completed in 2019, after the exhumation of thousands of graves at Bukit Brown Cemetery.
A 1.5km section of the old Punggol Road has been undergoing the pedestrianisation project to become part of Punggol’s heritage trail.
While there are new roads built, some old ones became defunct and were expunged. In end 2016 and mid-2017 respectively, the roads in Sentosa and Tanah Merah Coast Road became Singapore’s first public roads to have dedicated cycling lanes. The redevelopment of Tanah Merah Coast Road also meant that the long and straight Changi Coast Road, beside Changi Airport’s runway, would be closed after 2017.
In the early 2010s, due to the development of the Seletar Aerospace Park, a new road called Seletar Aerospace Drive appeared, replacing many old roads and becoming the main access road in the vicinity.
A section of Tanglin Halt Close was closed in 2018. The single lane-dual carriageway Old Upper Thomson Road, in 2019, became a part carriageway-part Park Connector Network (PCN) road. And the most recent was the closure of the decades-old Jurong Road to make way for the development of Tengah New Town.
In the past decade, the Downtown Line (DTL) became Singapore’s fifth Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line in operation. It was opened in 2013 and, till date, consists of 34 stations. The sixth line Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) has debuted in January 2020, and is expected to primarily completed by 2024.
Meanwhile, the East-West Line is upgraded with a Tuas West Extension (from Joo Koon to Tuas Link), completed in 2017.
For the Light Rail Transit (LRT), the Ten Mile Junction station (1999-2019) of the Bukit Panjang LRT (BPLRT) was closed in January 2019, becoming the first MRT/LRT operational station to close permanently. The underutilised LRT station has been converted into a testing ground for the replacement of LRT trains.
The Ayer Rajah Camp (1940s-2010) at Portsdown Road was closed in 2010. The vicinity underwent huge changes, where new road networks were built and Fusionopolis, Biopolis and Mediapolis developed. Mediapolis, a MediaCorp campus, was officially opened in 2015 near the site of the former Ayer Rajah Camp.
Elsewhere in Singapore, old vacant army camps such as Haig Camp and Old Keat Hong Camp were also demolished in the 2010s. The site of Haig Camp is now vacant, but the Old Keat Hong Camp had been replaced by a new Choa Chu Kang HDB neighbourhood.
In 2012, the old barracks at the Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute (SAFTI) were demolished. Seletar West Camp (1930s-2013) also gave way in 2013 to the development of Seletar Aerospace Park.
The Ordnance Supply Base along Kranji Road (1930s-2013), formerly part of the Kranji Heritage Trail, was torn down towards the mid of 2010s. The area is earmarked for further light industrial development.
Many new parks have been developed and opened in Singapore, such as the new Thomson Nature Park and the rejuvenated Sembawang Hot Spring Park.
The Kampong Java Park (1973-2018), on the other hand, walked into the history in 2018. Located near Kandang Kerbau (KK) Women’s and Children’s Hospital, it had to make way for the construction of the North-South Corridor tunnel.
Many small traditional businesses have struggled in Singapore. Today, there are not many shops selling music CDs, DVDs, comics, magazines and second hand books, largely due to the shift in technology or consumers’ behaviours. The Covid-19 pandemic and the economic recession have unfortunately led to more closure of businesses in Singapore.
For books, Borders exited Singapore in 2011 when its flagship bookstore at Wheelock Place and Parkway Parade were shut down in August and September that year. The good old second hand bookstore Sunny Bookshop, with outlets at Far East Plaza and Plaza Singapura, was closed in 2014.
The MPH Bookstores, hugely popular from the seventies to nineties, closed its Raffles City and Parkway Parade stores in July and September 2019, but did make a comeback at SingPost Centre a couple of months later. But earlier, in 2017, its longtime store (1976-2017) at Robinson Road had to shut down due to the redevelopment of its landlord Afro-Asia Building (1955-2017).
The year 2019 also saw a wave of closure in some iconic longtime bookstores, such as the Books Kinokuniya’s outlet at Liang Court (1983-2019) and Popular’s bookstore at Thomson Plaza (1988-2019).
77th Street (1988-2016), a local business in fashion and streetwear, used to have 16 stores in Singapore during its heydays. Its first outlet was a legendary one at Far East Plaza, where many teenagers would patronise it to buy the latest trendy apparel and accessories in the nineties.
Singapore’s longtime department store John Little (1845-2016) had been in business for 174 years, but their last store, at Plaza Singapura, was closed at the end of 2016.
Local hardware chain Home-Fix, established in 1993, was a familiar sight at many shopping malls. But in 2019, all its brick and mortar stores were closed as the company shifted its operations to the online platform.
There were more bad news in 2020, as familiar homegrown brands such as SportsLink (1983-2020) and Bakerzin (1998-2020) could not survive and had to close all their outlets.
Foreign brands like Forever 21 (fashion), Sasa (cosmetic), Fancl (cosmetic), Francfranc (lifestyle) were either closed down or exited the Singapore market in the 2010s. Topshop/Topman (fashion), in Singapore for 20 years since 2000, closed all its physical stores in 2020, and shifted to the online mode.
Carrefour (1997-2012), which had a hypermart at Suntec City, pulled out in 2012 after 15 years of business in Singapore. HMV (1997-2015), once Singapore’s largest music retailer, shut down its last store at Marina Square in 2015.
For food and beverage (F&B) business, the fast food has always been a favourite for many Singaporeans. A&W was the first to enter the local market, in 1966. They exited in 2003, but made a much anticipated comeback in 2019, with their new outlets opened at Jewel Changi and Ang Mo Kio Hub.
McDonald’s and KFC were the latecomers, making their debuts in Singapore in the late seventies. But some of their longtime outlets went on to become a place of fond memories for many Singaporeans.
The McDonald’s at East Coast Park’s Marine Cove (1982-2012) and King Albert Park (1991-2014) had become a landmark of their own over the years. But both walked into the history in the early 2010s. They were later replaced by a brand new McDonald’s (opened in 2016) and KAP Residences respectively.
Meanwhile, the KFC outlet at Bedok Central (1980s-2020) was a familiar sight for many. After more than 30 years, it was closed for good in July 2020. A new food court has since occupied its space.
Wendy’s (1980s, 2009-2015) twice attempted the Singapore market but could not last. It made a comeback in Singapore in 2009, opening as many as 11 outlets, but had closed all by 2015.
And not forgetting other popular restaurants that had ceased their operations in the past decade, such as Sizzler (1992-2012), The Cafe Cartel (closed in 2014) and Billy Bombers (closed in 2017).
For local ones, Singapore’s largest halal foodcourt operator Banquet (1999-2014) wound up its business in 2014 after falling into deep debts. During its peak, it had 46 food courts across Singapore.
The iconic Prima Tower Revolving Restaurant (1977-2020) at Keppel Road, impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, had decided to shutter its door in August 2020 after 43 years in business.
Nostalgic confectionery shop Chin Mee Chin, with its popular kopi, toast, puffs and egg tarts, ceased its business in early 2019 and has since been put up for sale.
Other old eateries with nostalgic settings were South Buona Vista Road’s Lim Seng Lee Duck Rice Eating House (1968-2013) and Clementi Road’s Union Farm Eating House (1953-2017).
Lim Seng Lee Duck Rice Eating House, with its signature boneless braised duck, closed in 2013 following the retirement of its owner. But the owner’s brother-in-law managed to revive the brand with a new store at Sam Leong Road.
Meanwhile, Union Farm Eating House started as a chicken farm in the fifties, and came to prominence with its paper-wrapped chicken. The kampong-styled eating house was no more by 2017, but the owner has reopened his business at a kopitiam at Jurong East.
Tong Ah Eating House (1939-2013), housed in the iconic pre-war shophouse at the junction of Keong Saik Road and Teck Lim Road, was a familiar traditional eatery for many Singaporeans for over half a century. It was closed in 2013, but has reopened in one of the nearby shophouses along Keong Saik Road.
The building continues to live on as an iconic landmark in the vicinity after the departure of its longtime tenant, and is now home to Potato Head, a burger and cocktail joint with an open-air rooftop bar.
Another old school coffeeshop Hup Lee (1950s-2017), located at Jalan Besar, was closed for good due to dwindling business and the retirement of its owner.
Near the Hup Lee kopitiam was Sungei Road, where the flea market (1930s-2017), after almost 80 years, was ordered to close for good in 2017. In the past few decades, the makeshift market was cleared several times, but had always made a comeback. But this time round, it was gone forever.
Before the impact of Covid-19 in 2020, several hotels had already ceased their operations in the previous 10 years. Copthorne Orchid Hotel (1969-2011), at Dunearn Road, was closed and demolished in 2011, replaced by new condominium The Glyndebourne.
Tanjong Katong’s Lion City Hotel (1968-2011) was taken over for $313 million by UOL Group in the early 2010s; OneKM Mall is now standing at its former site.
The Sloane Court Hotel (1962-2018), famous for its cottage-style appearance and Western food restaurant, was closed in 2018. Sloane Residences is currently being built in its place.
Geylang Serai Malay Village (1989-2011), along Geylang Road, was shut down and demolished in 2011 after years of losses. In its place is Wisma Geylang Serai, housing the Geylang Serai Community Centre and Malay Heritage Gallery.
When the railway lands were returned to Singapore in 2011, the plans were to convert them into a Green Corridor. Hence, by the mid-2010s, most of the former railway tracks and facilities were dismantled, including the iconic railway traffic light system at Bukit Panjang and the overhead railway bridge at Hillview.
The former Bukit Merah SAFRA (Singapore Armed Forces Reservist Association) Clubhouse (1982-2011), situated at the junction of Jalan Bukit Merah and Alexandra Road, was knocked down in 2011 for the construction of Alexandra Central Mall and Park Hotel.
The peace of Jalan Kayu and Seletar West Farmway areas were disrupted when a new Seletar West Road, leading to the new Seletar Aerospace Park, was constructed in 2012.
During the construction of the new road and the realignment of Jalan Kayu, the former Jalan Kayu Post Office building (1950s-2012), used as a rehabilitation centre and kindergarten in its last few years, was demolished.
The neighbouring florist and fish farms were also affected; they were either relocated to other places, or closed for good.
For example, Summer Koi Farm and Sea View Aquarium were closed in 2012 and 2018 respectively and have relocated to Chencharu Link. Others chose to cease their operations followed by the retirement of their old owners.
The hauntingly beautiful yet mysterious bungalow Matilda House (1902-2012) had been standing in the wilderness of Punggol for decades, before it was turned into a clubhouse for new condominium A Treasure Trove after 2012.
The exotic Tan Moh Hong Reptile Skin and Crocodile Farm (1945-2012) along Upper Serangoon Road ended their trade in 2012, with its land sold to be redeveloped into freehold terrace houses called Surin Villas.
The MacAlister Terrace and MacAlister Flats at the compounds of the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) were demolished in 2013. A large carpark has been built in the vicinity after that.
Singapore’s second driving test centre, Queenstown Driving Test Centre (1968-2011), was torn down in 2016 for the development of a new condominium called Queens Peak Condo. After the closure of the driving centre in 1995, the building was used as the Queenstown Neighbourhood Police Centre.
The buildings of the former Paya Lebar Police Station (1930s-2016) and the nearby Lorong Lew Lian shophouses were leveled in 2016. A new condominium called Forest Wood Residences will be occupying the site by 2021.
The Transit Road shophouses, with popular tattoo parlours and shops selling army stuff, was a familiar sight for many National Service (NS) personnel booking in and out of the Nee Soon Camp. Most of the shops had closed in 2015, and the shophouses demolished two years later. The area is now occupied by Forest Hills Condominium and Roots @Transit Condo.
Several other old shophouses also made way for redevelopment, such as the ones along Upper Serangoon Road (opposite Potong Pasir), where the stretch is now occupied by Sennett Residence and Sant Ritz.
The row of shophouses near the junction of Alexandra Road and Commonwealth Avenue – it had a popular eatery selling wanton mee – made way for Alexis, a condominium completed in 2014.
As part of the redevelopment plans for East Coast Park, the Island Park Resort chalets, or fondly known as the East Coast Park chalets (1980s-2017), were demolished in 2017. A new bicycle park with trails and circuits will be built.
Half of Sin Ming Industrial Estate was flattened in 2017. Many motor workshops at Sin Ming Industrial Estate Sector A and B were relocated to the nearby Sin Ming AutoCity complex. The vacant land is now reserved for future residential redevelopment by HDB.
Part of Bestway Building (1956-2018), also the former Singapore Polytechnic campus, made way in 2018 for the construction of Shenton Way Bus Terminal.
The Toa Payoh Rise apartments (1960s-2018), originally used as the housing quarters for the medical staff of Toa Payoh Hospital, were demolished in 2018 as they stood in the way of the new North-South Corridor (NSC).
At Silat Avenue, the low-rise SIT flats (1950s-2018) were integrated into the new Avenue South Residence project. Eight flats were demolished in 2018, while five were conserved and refurbished into heritage units for the new condominium. The new private residence will also consist of two 56-storey towers expected to be completed in 2023.
Mount Vernon Sanctuary and Columbarium (1970s-2018) was closed in 2018 and make way for the development of the new Bidadari housing estate.
The iconic former National Aerated Water Company building (1954-1990s) along Serangoon Road was sold in 2016. Like the Matilda House, its façade would be conserved and integrated into a new condominium named Jui Residences, whose name refers to water in Hokkien – a commemoration to the former company and building. The redevelopment works had kicked off in 2018.
Further down Serangoon Road was Singapore’s oldest pedestrian overhead bridge, built in 1967. However, it was dismantled in 2019.
The list ends with Pearl Bank Apartments (1976-2019), an iconic landmark with a unique architectural design standing at the Outram vicinity for four decades. It was demolished in 2019, and in a few years’ time, a new One Pearl Bank will be standing in its place as the new landmark.
What else in Singapore that you are most familiar of had changed or vanished in the past 10 years?
Published: 23 October 2020
Updated: 8 November 2020
Brilliant article, I think you have covered most of the significant changes. I can tell that a lot of work has been put into this one, thanks – I have learnt a lot.
Congratulations on your 10th Anniversary! I’ve been following your blog since day one and I appreciate the hard work you put in for every article. I look forward to many more great postings from you.
You know the irony is that remember Singapore hasn’t done a full article on the old National Library although I admit there used to be some good websites featuring the National Library and the conservation and activism movement (which probably surprised the government on this old brick building less than 50 years old).
We quickly learnt nothing is sacred in Singapore even if the first president of Singapore opened the building built with funds from Lee KC.and much of the pioneer generation’s lives and memories were based at that venue. If not for books, then a place to study (esp when a/c was installed) then it was a meeting place for friends and even dates in the city area with at least 10 buses stopping right outside the library and that small hawker centre next serving refreshments.
Now that it’s a bypass tunnel; reminds me for the peanuts strip with snoopy’s daisy hill puppy farm.
We may forgive but we will not forget the futility of so called public engagement (but the government decided it knows best at the end, 12 years of prior URA planning trumps 50 years of memories and 6 years of public activism). It was definitely an awakening for some not to put too much emotional investment in public buildings. I seriously doubt there is as much activism over such an issue as personal as it was to nation builders, particularly when this happened at a time pre social media, pre iPhone and internet at infancy.
A few red bricks from the old building on show in the modern building of NLB does not do justice.
Congratulations. What an awesome writeup. I agree that a lot of research and effort had been placed for this one. You have covered most places I must add. I have been reading and enjoying all your articles since 2012, the one with old cinemas in Singapore.
Fantastic article. In the 10+ years I have lived here, I have witnessed some of the sites undergoing redevelopment.
Excellent article ….I always enjoy your posts, Thanks for keeping them coming
Oh no, another one…
Robinsons to close stores at The Heeren and Raffles City
30 October 2020
The Straits Times
Robinsons is liquidating its two department stores at The Heeren and Raffles City Shopping Centre, the retailer said on Friday (Oct 30).
This means that Robinsons’ last two stores will be closing and the retailer will be exiting from Singapore after 162 years.
Robinsons said in a statement that the liquidation decision was made after the store’s “inability to continue operations due to weak demand at department stores”.
Mr Danny Lim, Robinsons’ senior general manager, said: “We regret this outcome today. Despite recent challenges in the industry, the Robinsons team continued to pursue the success of the brand. However, the changing consumer landscape makes it difficult for us to succeed over the long term and the Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated our challenges.
“We have enjoyed success over the years, and it has been an honour for Robinsons to serve the Singapore market. I am grateful for the dedication of our team, and for the support shown by our customers over the years.”
The company suffered losses for at least the last six years from shrinking sales, The Business Times reported.
In 2018, it sank $54.4 million into the red after revenue fell to $153.8 million. In comparison, turnover was $257.3 million in 2014.
Corporate advisory and restructuring firm KordaMentha’s Mr Cameron Duncan and Mr David Kim have been appointed provisional liquidators, said Robinsons on Friday.
The provisional liquidators will now take control of the company’s assets and assess options to realise value in order to maximise returns to creditors.
“Subject to confirmation, the liquidators are hoping the stores will remain open for the coming weeks to facilitate final sales for customers before they are shuttered,” Robinsons added in the statement.
The retailer said that its employees were informed on Friday by management and the provisional liquidators of the liquidation, adding that they have been assured that the liquidators will now work to maximise returns to creditors, including employees.
Robinsons said its management has ensured that employees are supported with payments that will be made to them in line with the next payment cycle.
“(This) is well in advance of the usual liquidation process timing, which would usually take months,” the company added.
KordaMentha will now aim to work with the Singapore Manual and Mercantile Workers’ Union, the National Trades Union Congress’ Employment and Employability Institute and the NTUC Job Security Council to ensure that employees are supported.
The liquidators will also leverage existing government schemes such as SkillsFuture Singapore’s SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package.
Robinsons stores in Malaysia, located at Shoppes at Four Seasons Place and The Gardens Mall, will also undergo a similar liquidation process with the appointment of Datuk Robert Teo Keng Tuan of RSM Malaysia on Friday as interim liquidator.
To add on to the list, these are some names that were once familiar to us:
Dbl-O (2000-2012). A famous club and drinking place at Mohamed Sultan Road, popular with youngsters in the 2000s.
This Fashion (closed all its outlets in Singapore by 2011). Used to see them at many malls and even the stores at MRT stations.
DFS (1985-2020 at Changi Airport) closed its duty-free shops after 35 years at the airport.
Big retail names during 1980-90
Takashimaya (late 1980s)
Mandai Orchid Gardens
For those living/lived in Jurong West, the greek/roman amphitheatre at PCF Nanyang Blk 825 neighbourhood park, pre-2020. https://imgur.com/gallery/CIkCuDZ
Flattened at the start of 2020. Replaced by an uninteresting flat plaza/piazza.
Marks & Spencer to shut Raffles City outlet but its 10 other stores will stay open
10 December 2020
The Straits Times
British retailer Marks & Spencer will be closing its outlet at Raffles City Shopping Centre on Dec 31, but its 10 other stores islandwide will remain open.
The update comes after the company placed an advertisement in The Straits Times on Thursday (Dec 10), about a “moving out sale” at its Raffles City shop.
In the advertisement, it said that there are discounts of up to 70 per cent for its items. The closure on Dec 31 will bring to an end 34 years of operation in the location.
“Marks & Spencer remains fully committed to the local market, and is continuing to explore growth opportunities of our business in Singapore. We are continually enriching our services and product catalogues, and are eagerly looking for ways to advance our business with store upgrades,” the retailer’s spokesman told The Business Times on Thursday.
Both Marks & Spencer and Robinsons are part of the Dubai-based Al-Futtaim group, owned by Emirati tycoon Abdulla Al Futtaim and run by his son Omar, according to Forbes.
In October, Robinsons announced its exit after 162 years of operations in Singapore. It has continued to keep its last two stores at The Heeren and Raffles City open for closing-down sales. Its liquidators told BT that Robinsons’ flagship store at The Heeren will close on Dec 16, but said that they are still in talks with the landlord at Raffles City.
The Marks & Spencer branch at Raffles City is the only one closing as the lease is signed under Robinsons, BT reported.
When The Straits Times visited the outlet at about 6.30pm on Thursday, there was no queue to enter the store, which had sales posters displayed at the entrance and in many spots in the shop.
Ms Marilyn Ng, who works in the finance sector, was there with her husband to buy clothes. Ms Ng said she happened to be doing some Christmas shopping in the area, and chanced upon the sale at Marks & Spencer.
Mr Ng, who is in her 40s, said that she has been shopping at Marks & Spencer for about 20 years, and regularly buys clothes and food from the retailer. As for the moving out sale, Ms Ng said it did not appear unusual to her, since it is the festive season and many shops are having sales.
The shop’s staff said that the department store is just moving out of the Raffles City outlet, but is not closing down, and that its other outlets will stay open. The retail chain had opened a pop-up outlet on the first floor of Waterway Point in Punggol in late October, that will operate for six months.
Marks & Spencer also said that it had no intention of closing its thriving business in Singapore.
Hi, I’ve been reading your blog for a long while liao. Would just like to clarify that while Woodlands Town Centre has already been demolished (its now just a grass patch) the old Woodlands cinema building is still standing.
What’s interesting is that the underpass to the old town centre is no longer present at the grass patch but over at Marsiling Park (former Woodlands Town Garden) can tell where they filled in the underpass cos the stone is cleaner.
Famous Chin Mee Chin Confectionery in Katong to return next month
6 February 2021
The Straits Times
Famous old school confectionery Chin Mee Chin, which has been shuttered for two years, is making a comeback.
The iconic coffee shop is slated to re-open by the end of next month in its original location at 204 East Coast Road. It is best known for its traditional toasted kaya buns, kopi and baked goods such as Swiss rolls, cream horns, sugee cakes, and luncheon meat buns.
well done bro, I have been following you since the first post, since royston’s short film. was there an old playgrounds clip too back then? Yours is one of the most consistent and well researched blogs, together with jerome lim and goodmorningyesterday
Another old iconic Mac will be gone soon….
McDonald’s outlet in Ridout Tea Garden to shut in December after 32 years in operation
23 April 2021
The Straits Times
A 32-year-old McDonald’s outlet in Ridout Tea Garden will be closing its doors in December.
A spokesman for the American fast food chain told The Straits Times on Friday (April 23) that the outlet will cease operations upon the expiry of its lease.
The Ridout Tea Garden outlet is among the oldest operational McDonald’s outlets here, having opened its doors to customers in 1989.
The oldest operational outlet is at People’s Park Complex. It has been operational since 1979 – the same year that McDonald’s made its Singapore debut at Liat Towers.
Also among those outlets that are at least three-decades old is the one at Hougang Street 21, which opened in 1984 as the first fast food restaurant in a housing estate here.
Ridout Tea Garden was built at a cost of $500,000 by the Housing Board in 1980 at the spot formerly occupied by Queenstown Japanese Garden, which was razed in a June 1978 fire.
The old garden, which was built in 1970, had 23 shops; the new garden has a single-storey eating house pavilion occupied by McDonald’s since 1989.
Built beside a pond, the pavilion housed a KFC outlet from 1981 that McDonald’s eventually replaced.
Its impending closure follows that of other iconic McDonald’s outlets over the past decade, such as the 23-year-old outlet at King Albert Park that shut in 2014 and the 30-year-old outlet at Marine Cove, which closed in 2012.
While the McDonald’s spokesman did not elaborate on why the outlet was closing, he added that customers in the area can visit its outlets at Queensway Shopping Centre and at Metropolis, located in Buona Vista.
A spokesman for the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), which currently manages the garden, told ST on Friday that the 57,453.9 sq ft site, which includes surrounding greenery, is currently tenanted to Hayman through an open tender since April 1, 2016.
It includes two lettable units, one of which is occupied by McDonald’s.
SLA said that Hayman’s tenancy for the site will be expiring on Dec 31, 2021, and that the authority has launched a tender for the site.
When ST visited the site on Friday, the other unit, which used to house a Thai restaurant, was empty.
McDonald’s staff that ST spoke to said they were unaware of the impending closure, and declined to comment further.
ST understands that the longest-serving staff member at the outlet has been working there for about 13 years.
Customers reminisced about their memories at the outlet when told about its planned closure. One, who gave her name only as Madam Kwek, said she recalled bringing her children to the outlet when they were in primary school.
“Fast food was a growing trend then and it was new and exciting for the children,” said the retiree who is in her 70s.
“It caught on quickly and they were happy to experience it.”
Others, like Mr Jack Ong, 38, said the Ridout outlet is different from other fast food joints, given its picturesque setting.
“It offers nice views with a pond and just earlier I saw about four otters frolicking in it,” said the e-commerce business owner.
Queenstown resident Ethan Ong said he will miss his family’s weekend breakfast spot, which they affectionately call “the turtle place” after the fish and turtle pond the garden is known for.
“I remember going there since I was about five because it was near my grandparents’ home in Farrer Road,” said the 24-year-old student, who added that he recalls running around the pond and watching turtles sunbathe as his parents ordered food.
It was also a go-to place to hang out on late nights out in his teenage years, as it was open for 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays.
At least two groups interested in bidding for the site were seen on Friday.
The SLA spokesman added that bids for the site will be evaluated using a price and quality evaluation format, with half the overall score assessing the quality of the concept and the other half the bid price.
The indicative use of the site is for food and beverage, or retail.
“The tender is an opportunity for interested parties to tender for a fresh 3+3+3 year tenancy for the sites,” said the spokesman.
“The incumbent tenant and sub-tenants are welcome to participate in the tender if they wish to continue their operations.”
Mr Ethan Ong said he hoped that any new tenants will retain the garden’s natural feel, and remain family-friendly.
“I feel a sense of loss not just because of its sentimental value, but also because nowadays it’s uncommon to have a fast food outlet so close to nature,” he said.
Chinese music cafes used to be popular here. The concept was imported from Taiwan in the nineties and grew in popularity in Singapore and Malaysia, providing a performing platform for many local singers in the early stages of their careers.
The 24-year-old Music Dreamer café aka Ai Qin Hai (爱琴海民歌餐厅) held its last ever live music performance on 15 May 2021.
Another favourite music café The Ark (木船民歌餐厅), Singapore’s first music cafe first opened at Apollo Centre in 1993, also closed last year (2020) due to the pandemic.
Popular Indonesian restaurant The Ricetable, established in 1997 at International Building, Orchard Road, will be ending their 24-year-old business at the end of May 2021.
Hope these old brands can survive the pandemic 😦
After Swee Kee Eating House, Covid-19 could claim more old-time restaurants
6 June 2021
Covid-19 has claimed the life of a restaurant with a 82-year history, now other long-standing eateries are also contemplating their fate.
Red Star Restaurant and Lai Wah Restaurant, household names in their heyday, told TODAY they were unsure for how long more they can sustain their businesses, even as Singapore appears on track to relax the latest round of restrictions that prohibit dining-in come next Sunday (June 13).
This comes on the heels of the permanent closure of heritage brand Swee Kee Eating House last Sunday.
Red Star and Lai Wah are old-school restaurants that are still employing their longtime workers well into their old age, and thus faced some difficulty reskilling their ageing workforce to meet the new demands of doing business amid the pandemic.
But despite their best efforts to catch up with the latest technologies — from introducing fibre broadband at the restaurant to taking orders mainly on food delivery platforms — business had still fallen by up to 90 per cent.
For instance, Lai Wah, a 58-year-old Cantonese restaurant in Bendemeer, had sent its staff — most of whom are Chinese speaking — for English language or Microsoft Excel classes last year. The new skills proved useful when they needed to take more food deliveries this period.
With this, it had even managed to get its head waitress, 58-year-old Susan Kwa, to become more comfortable with taking orders online — a significant achievement given that she had spent “weeks and months” to get used to a new point-of-sale (POS) ordering system when it was introduced to replace handwritten chits back in 2014.
Ms Kwa, who had been working at Lai Wah for 40 years and picked up the English language only last December, told TODAY that from her experience working through the circuit breaker last April to June, she had accepted that “there is no other way”.
“I don’t know, (then) I must also learn,” she added.
However, Lai Wah’s losses, which accumulated since last year’s circuit breaker, have continued to balloon, one of its third-generation owners, general practitioner Wong Choo Wai, 50, said.
Despite government support such as wage subsidies under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS), the losses are quickly approaching a six-figure sum, he said, as takings have fallen to less than S$1,000 a day amid the period of Phase 2 (Heightened Alert).
His brother, Mr Ben Wong, 51, added that on May 16, the Sunday that the restrictions kicked in, the restaurant had only S$300 in revenue, a drop of more than 90 per cent from usual weekends.
Mr Wong said Lai Wah had thus informed its landlord, the Housing and Development Board, that the restaurant does not have money to pay rent, as the enhanced JSS payout, which would apply to wages paid in April to June, will only be disbursed in September.
Dr Wong said: “Honestly, we are not sure how long we can sustain… We are currently considering getting a bridging enterprise loan, but I don’t know if the end is anywhere in sight.”
The family had not retrenched anyone despite the poor takings as they see their workers — many of whom are are in their 50s and 60s — as “family members” since they had been with Lai Wah for decades, Dr Wong added.
“If we close, they will not be able to find employment.”
THE RESTAURANT THAT CLOSED
The situation could have been worse, as seen in the case of Swee Kee.
It was known for being the Cantonese joint that many Hong Kong celebrities would patronise for supper when they were in town.
Located at Amoy Street for 26 years, it used to serve the Central Business District (CBD) lunch crowds that would flock to the restaurant as early as 11am as it was known to be packed by noon.
But its third-generation owner Cedric Tang, 36, said that his family had decided to close the outlet, the oldest of his family’s three restaurants, following new highs in monthly losses when its combined sales on May 18 and 19 amounted to as little as S$500.
The family had already suffered more than S$300,000 in losses in their attempt to keep Swee Kee afloat over the past year, hopeful that the Covid-19 situation would blow over, but there now seems no end in sight.
Unlike his family’s two other restaurants under the “Ka-Soh” brand, Mr Tang said that Swee Kee never got started with online delivery, as the level of digital literacy among its seven workers — six of them are above the age of 50 — was poor. The workers also could not read or speak much English.
Mr Tang did not want to impose the technologies on the workers as well, after seeing how badly they had struggled when learning to use the POS system there.
The machine was bought in 2017, but it had laid there unused for three years as the workers continued to take orders using paper, unconvinced that they could take to the new processes well.
When the credit card machine that Swee Kee used had to be upgraded in 2018 or 2019, he had to spend a few weeks teaching the workers how to operate it, as they had only learnt how to use the old machine by memorising button sequences, not by reading what shows up on the screen.
“They are fearful of technology. They do require a fair bit of handholding and coaxing that technology is there to help,” Mr Tang said.
The sudden nature of the latest Covid-19 measures did not help, he added.
“I had no time to implement things. I did think of bringing onboard Swee Kee to Oddle (a food delivery platform)… Then again, I wonder if they can get used to looking at the (printed) bills and facilitating the takeaways when they had not experienced it before,” he said.
EVEN PIVOTING TO DELIVERIES DIDN’T HELP
Red Star, a 47-year-old dim sum restaurant that used to be regularly booked out for events on 15 of 30 days of the month, could not escape the severe impact of the period of heightened alert, even though it had started doing deliveries well before Covid-19 hit.
Chef Hooi Kok Wai, 82, who co-owns the 80-table restaurant with chef Sin Leong, who is in his 90s, had partnered with food delivery apps although he could not read or write in English as he felt that it was important for Red Star to “go with the times and adapt to change”.
Mr Hooi — who could not even pronounce the names of the delivery platforms that Red Star is on when TODAY spoke to him — got his younger staff to implement and man the systems.
But the results were still dismal, as business had dropped by 90 per cent. They get only around S$2,000 worth of orders on the weekends, and “hundreds”, S$1,000 at most, on weekdays.
In contrast, the monthly operating cost stands at more than S$100,000 — an inflated sum since the Malaysia-Singapore borders closed last March as it started paying for the accommodation of the Malaysians among its 50-strong workforce. They used to cross the Causeway daily.
“If the restrictions extend for another month or two, I don’t think it is possible to continue without taking more drastic actions,” said Mr Hooi.
He had only cut the 20 to 30 part-time and ad hoc staff that they used to hire so far.
Over at Beng Hiang Restaurant in Jurong East, a well-known Hokkien restaurant originally located on Amoy Street from 1978, business is at 70 per cent of pre-Covid levels, said Mr Tony Leong, 42, its F&B manager.
“We still continue to persevere. Our workers have worked with us for 30, 40 years. We are a big family. It is not good for them if the restaurant closes because of Covid-19,” he said.
Beng Hiang, which is listed on GrabFood and Foodpanda, had, in fact, employed four to five more staff who are better educated to support its older staff who had trouble with delivery orders, especially those that come with special instructions since they could not read in English, Mr Leong said.
Meanwhile, one of the owners of Beng Thin Hoon Kee Restaurant, a family-run Fujian restaurant that started in 1949 and is located on Chulia Street, contends that rent is their biggest challenge as it stayed the same although footfall in the CBD is a fraction of what it used to be.
Asked if it might be forced to close, the woman, who declined to be named, said: “I hope not… At least not now.”
For Jing Hua Xiao Chi, a restaurant along Neil Road which opened in 1989, business has fallen by about 75 per cent.
Its supervisor Daryl Yap, 32, told TODAY that although the restaurant offers islandwide deliveries on platforms like Grab and Foodpanda, it was only receiving a little more than 15 orders on the weekends, and fewer than five orders on weekdays.
Walk-in business was worse, he said. On a typical weekday now, almost no customer would walk through the restaurant’s doors. On weekends, it was getting about three to four walk-ins.
Chinatown Food Street closes, business hit badly by lack of customers amid Covid-19 pandemic
26 October 2021
The Straits Times
Chinatown Food Street has closed for good after 20 years, the latest business victim of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Opened in 2001 as part of the Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) efforts to revitalise Chinatown, it boasted a cluster of popular hawker food carts along a 100m stretch of Smith Street that was closed to vehicular traffic.
Although it drew crowds in the beginning, it lost its sizzle after a few years and was closed in 2013 for a $4 million overhaul, including building a roof to protect diners from inclement weather.
It reopened in early 2014 with 24 stalls and new operator Select Group, which runs the Peach Garden Chinese restaurants and chain of Texas Chicken eateries.
Before it closed, the street featured stalls such as Famous Eunos Bak Chor Mee, King of Fried Rice, Tiong Bahru Meng Kee Roast Duck, Katong Keah Kee Fried Oysters, Siam Square Mookata and Boon Tat BBQ Seafood.
The iconic food street switched off its lights for the last time last Friday (Oct 22) with just two stalls left standing.
A spokesman for Select Group said the company could not continue with operations any longer because there were “no tourists or local crowd” and the tenants were not paying their rent.
In response to queries from The Straits Times, STB director of arts and cultural precincts Lim Shoo Ling said the authority had worked closely with Select Group to put in place various support measures.
These included rental waivers for the hawkers, as well as additional financial support for the food street’s marketing efforts, said Ms Lim.
“We will continue to work closely with the relevant agencies to explore options for the site, and more details will be shared in due course,” she added.
Some other notable casualties:
Van Kleef Aquarium
Hin Hollywood Canteen
Longhouse Food Centre (Upper Thomson Road)
7th Storey Hotel (near Tan Quee Lan Street in Bugis)
The exercise corner at the Pandan Reservoir has been barricaded then demolished earlier this month to make space for the new Jurong Regional Line MRT station, which will be completed in 2026-2027. That place had vintage stone benches which I surmise were there since the mid to late 1970s.
Along Upper Paya Lebar road next to Wisma AUPE, there was a 2-3 blocks of 3 storey walk up apartments. There since 1970 or even earlier. It had to be demolished to make way for an Underpass for Vehicular traffic in late 1990s for 2000s. Des anybody happen to have any photo of these blocks