As of this month, the Housing Board has spent $48 million upgrading six of its 21 shopping complexes as part of an effort to maintain their vibrancy and relevance to the community.
The shopping complexes, which HDB started building in the early 1990s, house 927 shops islandwide. The improvements are designed to enhance and add facilities, improve accessibility, offer residents more retail and dining options, and boost business vibrancy for shopkeepers, the HDB said yesterday.
Pasir Ris' Loyang Point shopping complex, which was completed in 1995, was the latest mall to be upgraded. The renovation, which was done in phases over two years, was completed in December last year.
There has been mixed reaction to the development from some retailers and customers.
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Mr Andy Ang, 52, vice-chairman of the Loyang Point Merchants' Association, said business there has improved by about 30 per cent to 40 per cent.
He said over 80 per cent of the complex's original tenants agreed to move to the renovated premises, even though it meant some had to close for several months.
"People don't like old (buildings). If we don't upgrade, we'll lose out in the neighbourhood," he said, with a nod to the nearby White Sands mall, which has been refurbished several times.
Loyang Point, which serves the needs of more than 26,000 residents, saw its floor space increase by 36 per cent to 17,045 sq m, and now has 77 shops, up from 60. The tenancy rate of the upgraded complex is about 90 per cent.
Tenants were given the chance to renovate their shop interiors. HDB helped defray the costs by waiving their rent for two months.
As part of the upgrading works, an air-conditioned linkway connecting both wings of the shopping mall was introduced. Two sheltered linkways now connect it to nearby bus stops.
Mr William Lee, 57, who owns Chong Ee Geomancy & Trading and a laundromat at Loyang Point, said he has seen a 20 per cent increase in crowds on weekdays, and a 70 per cent rise on weekends.
Residents have welcomed the wider range of food options, which the HDB said has quadrupled.
Retiree Abdul Rahman, 69, who visits the mall every day to buy groceries, said: "It's now like a food paradise. There are lots of halal food."
Some old tenants were unhappy with the renovations. At least six foodcourt tenants have complained about a dip in sales due to increased competition.
One stallholder, who wished to be known only as Mr Lim and who has worked at the complex for nearly a decade, said he now has 40 per cent fewer customers than before. " I find it odd that there are so many (food) shops in a neighbourhood mall. The crowd will scatter."
HDB has been progressively upgrading its shopping complexes since 2007.
Elias Mall in Pasir Ris is being upgraded, with works likely to be completed by the year end.