Chinatown Food Street reopening delayed

Construction work going on yesterday in Chinatown Food Street. It was scheduled to reopen by the middle of this month after a $4 million overhaul. But construction work has been delayed due to the growing crowd shopping for Chinese New Year goods. --
Construction work going on yesterday in Chinatown Food Street. It was scheduled to reopen by the middle of this month after a $4 million overhaul. But construction work has been delayed due to the growing crowd shopping for Chinese New Year goods. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Overhaul works held up by crowds shopping for festive goods: Operator

Chinatown Food Street, known for serving up local roadside fare in the tourist spot, may not open in time for Chinese New Year.

This is because of a delay in the completion of its building works, said its operator Select Group which has, as a result, been unable to apply for a temporary occupation permit (TOP).

The permit, which is issued by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) after an inspection, is needed before any premises can be occupied for business.

The $4 million overhaul of the 100m stretch of Smith Street began last May. It was scheduled to reopen by the middle of this month. The overhaul was to include the installation of a high-ceiling glass canopy shelter and a built-in cooling system.

A spokesman for Select Group, which specialises in food services, saidconstruction work was delayed because of the growing crowd shopping for Chinese New Year goods.

Some streets were closed to vehicles and this caused the loading and unloading of equipment and building materials to be "restricted".

The revamped street is expected to boast 24 street hawker stalls and six shophouse restaurants.

It is expected to seat 600 people - 400 under a shelter and another 200 in an open-air seating area. This is an increase from the original 400-seat capacity.

The revamp of the popular street, which was first launched in November 2001, was introduced after gathering public feedback in 2011.

BCA confirmed yesterday that it has yet to receive the TOP application from Select Group.

A BCA spokesman said that after the authority receives the application, it will inform the operator of when the inspection will be carried out.

"After inspection, the TOP will be granted if there are no non-compliance issues and all certificates have been submitted."

Applicants may apply for the TOP only when building works have been completed.

When asked, the Select Group spokesman would only say the construction of the food street is expected to be completed by the end of this month and that an update will be announced tomorrow.

Stall owner Yap Soon Kee, 40, who operates a dessert stall there, said he is resigned to the delay.

"The delay can't be helped so we just have to accept it... The renovation can't be rushed," added Mr Yap.

Food stallholders like him will have to pay rent only once the street is open to the public.

Separately, it is not known how much longer the iconic Lau Pa Sat in Raffles Quay will remain closed for renovation works.

Kopitiam, which runs the food centre, said it obtained written permission from the Urban Redevelopment Authority last month to proceed with its proposal to revamp and restore Lau Pa Sat.

Kopitiam's spokesman Evonne Tay said yesterday that there is no firm date for the food centre's reopening.

Lau Pa Sat closed last September for a $4 million facelift.

The popular lunch spot for office workers was initially scheduled to reopen two months later in November.

kcarolyn@sph.com.sg

mellinjm@sph.com.sg

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