Uncertain future for Beauty World Centre hawkers

A notice was issued to stallholders at Beauty World Centre's food centre around Chinese New Year stating that they must cease operations by Feb 11. Hawkers said they were told on Sunday (Feb 5) that they can now stay on until further notice.
A notice was issued to stallholders at Beauty World Centre's food centre around Chinese New Year stating that they must cease operations by Feb 11. Hawkers said they were told on Sunday (Feb 5) that they can now stay on until further notice.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO
A notice issued to stallholders at Beauty World Centre's food centre around Chinese New Year stating that they must cease operations by Feb 11. Hawkers said they were told on Sunday (Feb 5) that they can now stay on until further notice.
A notice issued to stallholders at Beauty World Centre's food centre around Chinese New Year stating that they must cease operations by Feb 11. Hawkers said they were told on Sunday (Feb 5) that they can now stay on until further notice.ST PHOTO: RAYNOLD TOH

Deadline to move out by Saturday extended to unspecified date amid unclear status of sale

Hawkers at Beauty World Centre's fourth-floor food centre are facing an uncertain future, while a deadline for them to move out by Saturday has been extended to an unspecified date.

An offer to buy the food centre has been made but its status is unclear, said stallholders, who have received little information from their management about this.

The National Environment Agency said in a statement yesterday it had not received any notice from the food centre's licenseeon whether it intends to cease business.

The centre's food shop licence is valid until November.

The Straits Times reported last April that a mystery buyer had offered $17.5 million for the open-air food centre at the strata-titled mall in Upper Bukit Timah Road to redevelop into an air-conditioned food court. Stalls at the food centre are privately owned, though many are leased by hawkers.

The hawkers said the sale is not a sure thing as not all the stallholders have agreed to it.

But they were issued notices around Chinese New Year from a trustee for the food centre, saying they have to move out by Feb 11 "or incur fines from the authorities" if they continue to operate beyond that date. However, they were told last Sunday that they could stay on until further notice, with rumours of the extension lasting until May.

The food centre's managing agent, Wisely 98, declined to comment. It referred questions to one of the trustees, Mr Lai Chong Lee.

Mr Lai, who operates a stall at the food centre, has not been seen for several days, hawkers said.

Several of the 41 stalls at the food centre have moved out in recent weeks, including burger stall Hambaobao and ramen stall Buta Kin.

Mr Sam Kin Sun, 34, owner of Buta Kin, said he moved out on Jan 26 and will be reopening his stall at a coffee shop in Bedok later this month.

Madam Annie Cheong, 64, who has been running the Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Noodle Rice stall for five years, said she would take a break before reopening elsewhere if the food centre is sold.

A stallholder of 10 years who declined to be named said: "Everyone is very uncertain about what's going on. We don't know if we should order more stock or start looking for a stall elsewhere.

"Some of the other owners had already started moving their equipment out, only to be told later that they could continue operations."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 07, 2017, with the headline 'Uncertain future for Beauty World Centre hawkers'. Print Edition | Subscribe