A new complex that includes shops and an active ageing hub will rise from the ashes of a wet market and coffee shop in Jurong West razed by a fire in October last year.
The design of the government-funded building was unveiled yesterday, and it will cost an estimated $6.2 million. The two-storey building in Jurong West Street 41, expected to be ready by next year end, will have a market with 35 stalls and a coffee shop on the ground floor, and an active ageing hub upstairs.
Mr Ang Wei Neng, an MP for Jurong GRC, unveiled the design yesterday and said he hopes the building, to be known as Jurong Central Plaza, will be an icon of Jurong West. It will occupy the site of the razed and demolished Block 493.
Last year's fire affected the livelihoods of 51 stallholders, including those in Block 493 and the coffee shop stallholders in neighbouring Block 494, which was badly damaged. Many of the wet market stallholders have resumed business at a temporary wet market.
Mr Ang said most have expressed interest in moving to the new complex. Asked about rental rates, he said that as the construction cost of Jurong Central Plaza is fully paid by the Housing Board, he hopes the new market operator can moderate the rent of the stalls. It would be "best" if rents are similar to that before the fire, Mr Ang added.
Affected stallholders at the temporary wet market said they have seen a marked dip in trade.
Wider aisles, better ventilation
The block housing a coffee shop and wet market in Jurong West Street 41 was demolished after a fire there in October last year.
Work is under way to construct a new two-storey complex at the site of the former Block 493.
The $6.2 million complex will be called Jurong Central Plaza and have on its ground floor a 433 sq m coffee shop, as well as a 420 sq m wet market with 35 stalls. It will have better ventilation, wider aisles between wet market stalls and a sheltered drop-off porch with seating.
Some elderly friendly features include brightly lit corridors, non-slip tiles and accessible toilets.
An active ageing hub and community garden will be located upstairs. The hub will provide services such as basic health checks, nutrition talks and physical activity classes.
Jurong Central Plaza will be completed by the end of next year.
Toh Wen Li
Hawker Ang Hock Dee, 58, who has been selling fish for more than 30 years, said business has plunged by about 20 per cent since he moved to the temporary market, which used to be a basketball court.
"In the coffee shop area, business was very good. Now, not that many people want to walk over here, especially the elderly," he added.
This view was echoed by 82-year-old yong tau foo seller Neo Chwee Eng, who said renting his wider stall costs him about $800, about twice as much as what he used to pay.
He now gets around 60 customers a day, fewer than half of what he used to see on the old premises.
Mr Neo said in Mandarin: "We try not to sell things at prices that are too high. I can just about get by."
Fellow hawker Mr Ang said he will consider moving over if the rent is reasonable at the new complex. "Otherwise I might have to find another job," he added.
The fire caused stallholders to lose hundreds to thousands of dollars in income a day.
Lim Ying Siang, then 41, was charged in October last year with setting fire to styrofoam boxes at the market knowing it would likely destroy the premises.
Yesterday's event also marked the completion of refurbishment works for Blocks 492 to 498 in Jurong West Street 41. This was carried out under the Remaking our Heartland Programme, and included the addition of a community pavilion as well as more bicycle racks and yellow boxes for bicycles from bike-sharing firms.
MP Ang Wei Neng said Jurong Central is the first division in Singapore to work with the three major bike-sharing firms to provide such yellow boxes in void decks and neighbourhood centres.
He said the scheme, launched in April, has been successful, adding that it has been extended to the entire Jurong GRC as well as Bukit Batok and Yuhua SMCs. There are plans to extend the scheme eventually to the rest of Singapore, he said.
Meanwhile, the Jurong West Street 41 neighbourhood will be the first to undergo the revamped Revitalisation of Shops scheme initiated by the HDB last year.
Shops will each have a new signboard, vertical blind and awning, with the bulk of renovation costs to be paid by the HDB and town council. Work is expected to start in the third quarter of next year.