The Chinatown Street Market will finally be getting a makeover, after several years of delay.
The Chinatown Business Association (CBA) announced yesterday that refurbishment works, involving all 159 stalls along Pagoda, Sago, Smith and Trengganu streets, will begin on May 15 and are expected to conclude by the end of next year.
Plans to give the street market a facelift and improve fire safety were mooted as early as 2013.
But the timeline was extended twice to obtain approval from the authorities and get feedback from stakeholders, said the CBA, which runs the street market.
First launched in 2004, the Chinatown Street Market was designed to recreate the street hawking scene of the past, and has become a major tourist attraction.
The upcoming refurbishment works will take place in seven phases, beginning with stalls along Pagoda Street, to minimise disruption, added the CBA.
Each work phase will last between six and 12 weeks, with only one portion of the street market involved at any point.
During the refurbishment, temporary hoardings will be put up with directional signs to attractions and businesses. As part of the makeover, stand-alone street stalls will be given improved roof insulation, extended shelters and rain curtains to cope with the weather.
Units in front of shophouses will have enhanced fire safety features such as water sprinklers and fire-rated shutters that will be activated when smoke is detected.
The CBA will be covering the cost of the refurbishment, with support from the Singapore Tourism Board, though it declined to reveal the cost.
The refurbished street market will have 140 stalls, and the association is working with tenants to increase offerings that reflect Chinatown's heritage, it said.
Tenants have been given two months' notice to make arrangements, and informed about the expected refurbishment timeline.
Some stallholders along Pagoda Street told The Straits Times they are worried that business will be affected.
"Once you close, people will forget that you are there, " said Mr Munirathinam Venkatesan, owner of shopfront perfume stall Philms Cosmetic.
However, the owner of a stand-alone clothing stall, who declined to be named, said: "It is good to renovate. It has been so long already. I am not worried about business - Chinatown is popular with tourists."
British tourist Grace Sinclair, 71, who was shopping along Pagoda Street yesterday, hopes the renovations will not take away the atmosphere from the street market.
"I like Singapore but you need to preserve what you have - otherwise, it becomes just another concrete jungle," she said.