News: Golden Mile Complex will not be the same again once sold

Jan 14, 2019

The iconic building is currently on sale for $800 million after over 80 percent of its owners agreed to sell it. (Photo: ET&Co.)

Homeowners at Golden Mile Complex believe the development would not be the same even if the iconic building is kept, reported Today Online.

One of Singapore’s first mixed-use developments, Golden Mile Complex was completed in 1973 and features 418 retail, 227 office and 68 residential units.

The 46-year-old building is currently on sale for $800 million after over 80 percent of its owners agreed to sell it.

More: Designer Calls For National Referendum On Fate Of Iconic Buildings

The Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) planning advice indicated that developers can build an integrated development on the site with a gross floor area of about 86,000 sq m, which includes retaining the iconic building and constructing a new one beside it.

However, owners and staff at the development believe the building will only be a shell of its former self once the deal is signed.

“They keep the building but they won’t keep these people here. Maybe the exterior is the same but the interior will not be the same. No way to replicate this place any more. Once it’s gone, it’s just memories,” said residential unit owner Mr Lai.

Aside from its iconic architecture, the mixed-use development is also a haven for the Thai community in Singapore.

In fact, its unique Thai identity is also celebrated by one of the building’s three main architects, Tay Kheng Soon.

“It is one of the most popular and most successful Thai food centres, which satisfies the original idea that you can have upper class (of residents) above and you can have the working class below,” said the 77-year-old.

The Thai community began settling in the development in the early 1980s and 1990s during the construction boom.

“Every day we see groups of 20, 30 Thai construction workers. They carry pots and pans, rice, pillows… everything,” recalled Mr Lai.

But as the construction workforce started to rely less on Thais and more on workers from India and Bangladesh, the crowds at Golden Mile gradually thinned.

Despite that, shop owners and residents noted that the Thai culture at the development remained strong.

The building continues to be very crowded during Thai festivals like Song Kran in April, said Ponno Kalastree, who owns a residential unit and two office spaces at Golden Mile Complex.

Robert Yao, who owns a muay thai boxing gym, said being situated within the development is a way of spreading Thai culture to his students who are mostly non-Thai nationals.

“If it’s here, it shows you are spreading Thai culture in food, in clothes,” he said. “You can’t create another “Little Thailand”. It must come from the people’s culture. And you can’t recreate that. It’s built over time.”

Even for residents such as Mr Kalastree and Ms Chang who agreed to the collective sale, they said their decision was out of necessity considering that the old building is now riddled with various maintenance issues.

“If no water problems, I won’t think about moving out for sure,” said Ms Chang.

More: Understanding The En Bloc Process (August 2018)

 

Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email romesh@propertyguru.com.sg

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