SINGAPORE — To help businesses in the heartlands stay competitive, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) will pump in S$29 million to help spruce up these shops, the largest sum set aside so far for such a purpose.
The money is expected to help 1,335 shops across 25 neighbourhoods and town centres, as part of the Revitalisation of Shops (ROS) scheme. These shops are the seventh batch of shops to benefit from the scheme, which was enhanced in May to allow for a bigger upgrading budget for each shop.
“They bring convenience, affordability and choice to residents. Beyond that, heartland shops also create a sense of community and belonging,” he said.“We want to help heartland shops do well, inject vitality in the neighbourhood. This will benefit the nearby EC residents too. Recent executive condo launches include Treasure Crest and Northwave EC while existing ones include The Terrace EC, Brownstone EC, The Visionaire, Parc Life , Waterwoods EC, Signature at Yishun, Skypark Residences, Wandervale EC, The Vales EC, The Criterion EC, The Amore EC, Bellewaters EC, Bellewoods EC.
Announcing the funding on Monday (Aug 29) during a visit to Geylang East Neighbourhood Centre — one of the sites to benefit from the ROS — Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee said heartlands shops, which play an important role in creating a sense of “home” and familiarity, are facing increased competition from large shopping malls and online retailers.
The enhancements to the scheme announced in May include increasing the upgrading budget for each shop from S$20,000 to S$35,000 and reducing the shop owner’s share of the cost from 50 per cent to 20 per cent, and capping it at S$5,000.
A total of 4,684 shops across 54 HDB towns and neighbourhood centres have benefited from the scheme since it started in November 2007.
Geylang East Central Merchants’ Associations chairman Yong Teck Chai, 52, who runs a home appliance store, said the upgrading might help attract younger customers to the stores.
“Maybe young (entrepreneurs) could also come in and bring in their new concepts,” he said, adding that they would also be looking to create a Facebook page for the Merchants’ Associations to promote what shops in the area were selling, and to inform about upcoming promotions.
Mr Frankie Kok, 63, who runs a hardware store at Aljunied Avenue 2, added that business has been “quiet lately”, due to fewer walk-in customers. To create more buzz about the estate, he suggested that the authorities look at bringing in more niche stores.
Locksmith shop owner Neo Wee Kui, 74, said that he also hoped for more shop awnings to provide shade for elderly shoppers.