Residents of Geylang Serai can expect a new civic centre come 2018, as work will start on the new Wisma Geylang Serai after a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday.
The project, developed by the People's Association, will house the new Geylang Serai Community Club, the South East Community Development Council office, a Malay Heritage Gallery and arts facilities, along with senior care, childcare and family service centres.
Located where the Malay Village used to stand in Geylang Serai, before the heritage attraction closed in 2011, the five-storey, 10,000 sq m centre is intended to be a community hub for the area which reflects Geylang Serai's rich Malay heritage.
The multi-agency effort is estimated to cost $55 million.
These agencies include the Ministry of National Development, National Arts Council, Ministry of Social and Family Development, Ministry of Health, and National Heritage Board.
Speaking to reporters after the groundbreaking ceremony, Mayor for South East District, Dr Maliki Osman, said the centre was originally slated to open in 2017, but was delayed to 2018 as the design reviews had to get the approval of all stakeholders before construction could proceed.
"It took a bit of time to ensure that the needs of all the different stakeholders are met," said Dr Maliki, who is also Minister of State for National Development and Defence.
"It's taken a little bit longer than what we had hoped for, but nonetheless I'm very happy that today we're able to break ground and that the community can look forward to a brand-new hub."
Once complete, pedestrian pathways and bridges will link the centre to nearby amenities such as the Geylang Serai market across the road, Joo Chiat Complex and Paya Lebar MRT station.
The ceremony was officiated by guest of honour Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, and three other MPs for Marine Parade GRC, which Geylang Serai falls within - Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef and Mr Seah Kian Peng.
Mail officer Rashid Ridza, 55, who has lived in Geylang Serai for the past 20 years, said the central location of the centre will make it convenient to hold various activities there.
"Rain or shine, there will be walkways for us to get here for activities," he said.
"And it will be convenient for people to come from all over Singapore, even tourists who want to visit."