A charming building built and completed by the HDB in 1977, Rochor Centre will be demolished soon to make way for the construction of the North-South Expressway (NSE).
By Michelle Yee
When one thinks of Rochor Centre, images of brightly coloured flats immediately come to mind. These HDB flats, which are painted red, green, blue and yellow, have over the past few decades become an iconic landmark in the Rochor area.
Apart from the four colourful blocks of flats, another unique attribute of Rochor Centre is that it is a unique mixed-used development consisting of residential, commercial and retail spaces – the building comprises over 180 shops and eateries, offering a wide variety of goods and services such as ceremonial items, hardware, electrical appliances and more.
“Built by the HDB and completed in 1977, Rochor Centre is a unique mixed-use development located conveniently outside of the central business district. Like many other HDB estates built during that period, Rochor Centre was designed in the podium-and-tower style – the first three floors of the building consists of a supermarket, shops and other amenities, while the fourth floor is home to a spacious void deck. The residential units only start from the fifth floor onwards. The unique integration of commercial with residential provides greater convenience to Rochor Centre residents,” shared Peter Poh, Chief Operating Officer of Asia Wisdom Group.
Looking at the bigger picture
Although the demolition of Rochor Centre to make way for the NSE in 2016 would inconvenience almost 570 families and 190 retailers, the new 21.5km expressway, which is set for completion by 2020, is expected to cut travel time for motorists by up to 30 percent during peak hours.
The NSE, which will connect towns along the north-south corridor, including Woodlands, Sembawang, Yishun, Ang Mo Kio, Bishan and Toa Payoh, to the city centre, will especially benefit residents living in the north and north-eastern sectors of Singapore.
For example, a journey between Yishun and the city currently takes about 30 to 35 minutes. With the NSE, the same journey is expected to take only between 20 and 30 minutes.
Apart from the NSE, analysts added that the demolition of Rochor Centre, which sits on a plot of land bounded by Rochor Road, Rochor Canal Road, Ophir Road and Queen Street, will also make way for the development of the Ophir-Rochor Corridor.
Ophir-Rochor corridor set for total transformation
According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Ophir-Rochor is envisioned as a new growth area and a natural extension from the Marina Centre. The area will feature exciting 24/7 integrated mixed-use developments with offices, hotels, homes, and other complementary facilities within an attractive garden-like environment. The area is expected to be developed over the next 10 to 15 years.
“Earmarked as a strategic transport hub, the Ophir-Rochor area will be well-connected by the rail and road network to the rest of Singapore. In fact, the first phase of the new Downtown rail line will have an interchange at the existing Bugis MRT station, which itself is part of the East-West line, offering easy access to the rest of the CBD, Marina Bay and major shopping, dining and entertainment areas on Orchard Road, as well as the Singapore River. When complete, the North South Expressway will serve increasing traffic along the north-south corridor that is currently served by the Central Expressway (CTE). It will have a few in-and-out ramps (exit and entrances) to serve this area. One of the prominent landmarks that has to make way for the project is Rochor Centre.
The government is also spearheading efforts to rejuvenate this area, which comprises a series of large parcels of land set to provide exciting opportunities for new high density, high-rise mixed-use developments, like The Duo and South Beach.
A commercial parcel along Beach Road that was put on the reserve list for the second half of 2015 is also expected to contribute to the city skyline and offer an integrated, 24/7 lifestyle environment. “This initiative is expected to be developed over the next 10 to 15 years. In the longer term, the Singapore government will continue to interest international investors in property development and investment opportunities here, and to showcase Singapore as a great city to invest, live, work and play in,” Poh added.
Developments to look at
Strategically located at the junction of Jalan Sultan and Beach Road, City Gate, which is being developed by World Class Land and Fragrance Group, is a 30-storey mixed development comprising 311 residential units and 188 retail units.
Apart from breathtaking views, residents can look forward to spectacular sea views of Kallang Basin on the Eastern and Southern sides, as well as unblocked views across Kampong Glam, towards the city skyline on the Western and Northern sides.
Residents will also get to enjoy utmost convenience and connectivity, as the development is within proximity to an array of transportation links, including the Nicoll Highway MRT station, Bugis interchange, Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway, East Coast Parkway and Marina Coastal Expressway.
Liv on Wilkie
For those seeking an exclusive home within a well-located area, look no further than Liv on Wilkie, which is tucked away within the prestigious Mount Sophia enclave – a cosy and exclusive area featuring developments with a maximum seven-storey height limit.
Developed by Roxy-Pacific Holdings, Liv on Wilkie is a unique freehold residential development with a dual key concept. The functional dual-key units will benefit both home buyers and investors: for the former, buyers can look to establish a home office within their own home, and for the latter, investors can look to optimise their investment returns by renting out both abodes as individual units to double their profits.
Situated on Ophir-Rochor Road, DUO Residences, which is a stunning high-rise residential development, is the epitome of city living at its best. Developed by M+S, the 660-unit development, which is part of the DUO – a unique mixed development comprising premium residences, a hotel, grade A offices and a retail complex – consists of a good mix of apartments and penthouse units that feature stylish aesthetics, premium finishing and fittings, coupled with state-of-the-art amenities.
Aside from a host of convenient facilities, residents can also enjoy a bevy of commercial amenities, including a retail plaza offering food and drink, as well as a signature restaurant with an observation deck on the top floor, overlooking the city skyline. Another highlight of this development is the magnificent views residents can enjoy from the comfort of their homes; the 49-storey residential tower is expected to be one of the tallest residences in the Bugis area.
Lastly, whether by foot, public transportation or car, those living at DUO Residences will get to enjoy utmost convenience, as the area is well served by major expressways, including the CTE and ECP. For those who rely on public transportation, Bugis MRT station, which offers a direct connection to the East West Line, is just a stone’s throw away.
DID YOU KNOW…
1) There are 10 sub-zones in Rochor, mainly: Mackenzie, Selegie, Mt Emily, Bencoolen, Victoria, Kampong Glam, Rochor Canal, Sungei Road, Little India, and Farrer Park.
2) Constructed in 1836, Rochor Canal was not just a canal or a large storm drain, but a water source for several industries and a channel for goods transportation in early Singapore. Rochor Canal also played a big role in its neighbourhood, as a waterway that divided the two historic settlements of Kampong Glam and Little India.
3) The four iconic blocks of flats at Rochor Centre were originally painted white when they were first built in the 1970s, until the early 1990s, when they were repainted with four bright colours in a government upgrading programme.
4) Rochor Centre is listed by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) as a landmark to be protected. However, in 2011, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Singapore Land Authority (SLA) announced that Rochor Centre would be demolished by 2016 to make way for the construction of the North-South Expressway.
5) During the 1960s, the Rochor area was packed with opium dens and brothels, but they were demolished to make way for shopping complexes and commercial buildings.