Joo Chiat: From sleazy to trendy

Joo Chiat: From sleazy to trendy

 

The bars and Vietnamese women have not deserted Joo Chiat Road, but new businesses have nonetheless sprouted to give the area a more upmarket feel.

 

The newcomers, which moved in within the last year or so, include eateries, a chic furniture retailer and even an enrichment school for kids.

 

Joo Chiat’s rich cultural heritage was the reason for art gallery artoholic’s opening last December, said its general manager Gerlene Tan. ‘We’re trying to add to this by having our gallery here. It’s a marriage of both art and heritage.’

 

Hess Enrichment Centre relocated to Katong Junction, a mini mall in Joo Chiat Road, from Centrepoint last October. Its language enrichment classes target those between 18 months and 12 years.

 

Said administration manager Lorraine Foo: ‘Joo Chiat is the ‘in’ place right now. It’s bustling with life and culture.’

 

Another newcomer, fashion and home accessory retailer Egg3, opened its doors last August. Its owner Mike Tan believes the area is morphing into a trendy lifestyle hub.

 

Echoing his sentiment, Ms Susan Ye, managing director of Isabel Redrup Agency, said: ‘A lot more yuppies are moving into the area. Joo Chiat is value for money compared with places like Emerald Hill and Cairnhill. It’s near the city and in the East Coast which is full of local flavour,’ she said.

 

‘The pre-war shophouses are a hit with the well-educated and ‘arty’ professionals, ” added Ms Ye, whose agency specialises in commercial and residential conservation houses.

 

But it was not that long ago – early 2005 to be precise – that the 1.3km-long Joo Chiat Road housed 44 pubs, 38 massage parlours and eight hotels.

 

Residents then voiced concerns about the presence of gambling dens, noise from the pubs and prostitutes plying their trade there.

 

Since 2005, however, there has been a moratorium on new licences issued to pubs and stricter licensing rules. Today, gambling dens and massage parlours ‘are not issues any more’, said MP for Joo Chiat Chan Soo Sen.

 

The Sunday Times, in a recent visit, counted 29 pubs, three massage parlours and six budget hotels.

 

Joo Chiat is shedding its sleazy image and moving towards becoming an arts, food and heritage hub, said Mr Colin Chee of the Save Joo Chiat workgroup.

 

Set up in 2004, the group is made up of residents who wish to promote its Peranakan heritage.

 

Mr Chee, 58, a manager in a multinational company, noted that ‘sleaze is now concentrated in a few small pockets’, which is why new businesses have been launched.

 

Ms June Lee, co-owner of pastry boutique Obolo, which opened in June last year, believes the area promises good pickings for eateries. ‘We were looking for a specific area for our first shop and Joo Chiat fit the criteria and at a lower price.’

 

Renowned painter-art teacher Lin Lu Zai, 45, owner of Miao Zai Xuan art gallery which opened in July last year, hopes that Joo Chiat will evolve into a place for the arts.

 

‘In other countries, you’ve entire streets dedicated to art supplies, schools and galleries. It would be nice if Joo Chiat could also be where like-minded folk meet,’ he said.

 

Added Obolo’s Ms Lee: ‘I believe that Joo Chiat has the potential to be the next Holland Village, yet retaining the neighbourhood’ s family-oriented ‘kampung’ feel.’

 

Source: Straits Times

One Response

  1. […] Joo Chiat: From sleazy to trendyJoo Chiat’s rich cultural heritage was the reason for art gallery artoholic’s opening last December, said its general manager Gerlene Tan. ‘We’re trying to add to this by having our gallery here. It’sa marriage of both art and heritage. … […]

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