More than 700 residents showed up in the evening yesterday to mark the temporary closure of the 35-year-old Thomson Community Club (CC).
The club will close its doors in about two weeks for a two-year upgrading exercise. When it is completed by the end of 2021, the CC's grounds will be doubled to about 6,000 sq m.
Its new facilities will include a culinary studio, larger dance studios and a covered basketball court.
To improve accessibility, a bridge will also be built linking the CC to the nearby Shunfu Market.
The new building will be designed by DP Architects, which also designed other notable buildings such as the Esplanade and integrated community and lifestyle centre Our Tampines Hub.
Opened in 1984 by former Thomson MP Chau Sik Ting, the Thomson CC replaced the old Kampong San Teng CC, which until 1982 stood where the Bishan Fire Station is now located.
Citing the long history of the area, Thomson CC vice-chairman Eugene Lee noted the earliest grassroots leaders were often the village chiefs of the Kampong San Teng area.
Thomson CC's operations will be relocated to Bishan North CC on Bishan Street 22 during the upgrading period, while classes and other activities will be held at nearby residents' committee centres.
The 25-year-old Thomson Jazz Club, which calls the CC home, was among those who turned up yesterday. The group played renditions of popular songs such as Billy Joel's Just The Way You Are and Quincy Jones' Soul Bossa Nova.
One of Singapore's longest running jazz music institutions, the Jazz Club - founded in 1993 by former Thomson CC chairman Eddie Chan, a retired architect who also designed the original building - has released two albums and performed in concert here and internationally.
Mr Lee noted that the CC houses not only the Jazz Club but also a Hainanese opera group, among other cultural activities. These groups will move elsewhere during the upgrading period, but will return once the new building is completed, he said.
"We want to maintain the CC's place as an arts and cultural centre," he said.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, the MP for the Bishan North ward of Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, where the CC is located, was also at the event yesterday.
Mrs Teo said: "The refreshed Thomson CC will aim to be a place where people can come to for relaxation, activities and learning and development.
"But more than being a place, the CC aims to be the heart of our Thomson community life."