Singapore's first community centre reopened yesterday after two years of renovation work, with better facilities and new programmes.
Built in 1951 during the colonial days, the Tiong Bahru Community Centre has undergone five major facelifts.
This time, the multipurpose hall has been given a higher ceiling, making it suitable for gymnastics or cheerleading practices.
Zumba, pound and trampoline classes will be held at various spaces around the centre, including the new function rooms which were converted from offices.
The centre's two buildings, previously linked by an open, unsheltered space, are now connected by a covered bridge. The premises have also been made barrier-free, with ramps added to make moving around more convenient for wheelchair users and families with children in strollers.
Following calls from residents to preserve the two remaining former air raid shelters on the site, the Tiong Bahru Community Centre management committee converted one shelter into an air-conditioned culinary studio.
The committee is considering renting out the other shelter.
Committee chairman Tan Seow Peer, 63, said the centre had to evolve to meet the needs of young families who moved into the new flats and condominiums in the area.
Between the 1960s and 1990s, a lot of young people had left the estate to live elsewhere, she said. "At one stage it was an old town, there were a lot of old folk, so the community centre was underused."
In recent years, Tiong Bahru has become more popular with younger residents because of its hipster vibe.
At the centre's official opening yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law Indranee Rajah, who is an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, noted that the Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru division has one of the youngest demographics in the GRC.
Housewife Tang Sui Wah, who lives in the vicinity, said she found the centre to be more spacious than before. The 77-year-old said: "I may consider taking up the new dance classes if they are suitable for people my age."