New $6.2m market, coffee shop and active ageing hub to replace burnt Jurong West centre by end of 2018

The government-funded building is expected to be ready by the end of next year at an estimated cost of $6.2 million. PHOTO: HDB
Temporary market at Jurong West St 41. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - 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 fire in October last year.

The design of the government-funded building was unveiled on Sunday (Dec 17), with it expected to be ready by the end of next year at an estimated cost of $6.2 million.

The two-storey building in Jurong West Street 41 will have a 420 sq m market with 35 stalls, a 433 sq m coffee shop on the ground floor and a hub for active ageing 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 Block 494 next door, which was badly damaged.

Many of the wet market stallholders have resumed business at a temporary wet market.

Mr Ang told The Straits Times most of the affected stallholders have expressed interest in moving to the new complex.

Asked about rental rates at the new complex, Mr Ang told ST as the construction cost of the Jurong Central Plaza is fully paid by HDB, 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, he added.

Affected stallholders at the temporary wet market told ST that they have seen a marked dip in trade.

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 only around 60 customers a day, less than half of what he used to see at 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 last October caused stallholders to lose hundreds to thousands of dollars of income a day. It broke out in the wee hours of Oct 11, and damaged a privately-run coffee shop at adjoining Block 494 as well.

Singaporean Lim Ying Siang, then 41, was charged in October last year for 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 from 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 companies.

Mr Ang, the MP, said Jurong Central is the first division in Singapore to work with the three major bike-sharing firms to provide yellow boxes in void decks and neighbourhood centres for their bicycles.

He said the scheme, launched in April this year, has been successful, adding that it has since been extended to the entire Jurong GRC as well as Bukit Batok and Yuhua SMCs. There are also plans to extend the scheme eventually to the rest of the Singapore, he said.

Sunday's event also marked the launch of a fourth bike-sharing company, SG Bike, in Jurong.

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 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.

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