Aerospace park turns food hub

The redeveloped Seletar Aerospace Park will have at least three restaurants

Seletar Aerospace Park (SAP) is known as an industrial park catering to the aerospace sector, but it is shaping up to be quite a lifestyle hub as well.

The 320ha park surrounding Seletar Airport is a short drive from Yishun, Jalan Kayu and Sengkang and is being developed by government agency JTC.

In particular, The Oval @ SAP, which occupies 11.5ha, comprises a cluster of 32 black and white colonial bungalows that were gazetted for conservation under the Urban Redevelopment Authority Master Plan 2014.

For starters, six of the 32 bungalows will be used for lifestyle businesses, including three restaurants.

Subsequent phases in the development will include adding lifestyle facilities such as a playground, a boardwalk that fronts the runway, an open lawn, picnic tables and an open hard court for family outings and events.

Taking up the biggest space is Wheeler's Estate by brothers Tommy and Daniel Ong, who are behind the family-run business and popular bicycle cafe, Wheeler's Yard, in Balestier.

The outdoor area of the 6,800 sq m space, roughly the size of a football field, will feature a caravan park for picnics, as well as basketball and football facilities. These will spill into the ground floor of the two- storey bungalow that sits on the land. The first floor of the bungalow, which can seat 100, will serve brunch, tapas, coffee and beer. There will also be a kids' menu.

Mr Tommy Ong, 63, tells The Sunday Times that he and his younger brother had plans for expansion after the success of the Balestier cafe, but could not find a suitable location.

He says: "The Oval provides what we are looking for, in a unique location that is hard to come by. It is suitable for families in the area and these are probably the last few of such bungalows in Singapore."

Wheeler's Estate is likely to open in August.

Also in The Oval cluster is food and beverage company Pentagon Group, which is taking up two bungalows.

One will house Youngs Western Restaurant, serving modern European food, and the other, Di Wei Teochew Restaurant. The restaurants will open in May.

The 2,000 sq ft Youngs Western Restaurant can seat up to 150 and will offer set lunches on weekdays and brunch on weekends.

The restaurant's head chef and Pentagon's operations manager, Mr Ip Jun Yat, 25, also hopes to run a supper club on the last Sunday of every month.

At Di Wei, expect traditional Teochew fare such as sugar-coated yam strips, cold crab and treasure duck stuffed with glutinous rice and dried shrimp, says Pentagon's director Tom Seah, 30.

While the group is not a prominent name on the F&B scene, it is no stranger to the industry.

Pentagon runs sports bar Champion Sports Lounge at the National Service Resort & Country Club in Changi, the year-old Birdcage Bistro at Birdcage Walk in the Seletar area and a Di Wei outlet at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

As its office is near the aerospace park, Mr Seah says the company knew of The Oval opening and was keen on getting space there.

Asked about the footfall in the area, he says: "Human traffic is not very high yet. It is not a very prominent place and taxi drivers are also not familiar with the location.

"But we know that the people in the aviation industry have spending power and there are foreigners who like to drink from lunch onwards. The advantages outweigh the traffic issue."

According to JTC, the aerospace park has a working population of about 5,000 and is home to more than 60 companies, including Rolls Royce, Wah Son Engineering and aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.

JTC also plans to organise other programmes, including outdoor concerts, mini bazaars, carnivals and movie nights.

Its new building, JTC Aviation Two, will also house an airplane-themed food court, slated to open by the middle of this year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 21, 2016, with the headline 'Aerospace park turns food hub'. Print Edition | Subscribe