TALL wooden hoardings now block off both ends of the once-bustling thoroughfare of Change Alley.
The moneychangers after whom it was named are long gone. All is eerily quiet at the glass-framed bridge linking Collyer Quay and Raffles Place.
However, the 32-year-old landmark will be reborn in 2010 as a shopping arcade with 12 retail shops, as part of a multimillion-dollar makeover now taking place at historic Collyer Quay.
It's just one of many changes in the waterfront area of Marina Bay that are set to create a buzz.
The eight-year-old One Fullerton, a three-storey entertainment complex occupying a prime spot along the quay, will be relaunched in August with four new eateries.
Business owners there are racing to open new restaurants and bars in time to cash in on the three-day Formula One SingTel Singapore Grand Prix that is expected to draw 240,000 spectators in September.
The new eateries include Forlino, a 5,000 sq ft traditional Italian restaurant to be helmed by Michelin-star chef Osvaldo Forlino from Italy. It is run by Mr Beppe de Vito, who owns the Il Lido Italian restaurant at Sentosa Golf Club.
Hotelier Loh Lik Peng, who owns the hip New Majestic and 1929 hotels, will open an upscale 80-seat Cantonese restaurant on the ground floor.
Even the space under the Esplanade Bridge next to One Fullerton has been transformed. A $500,000 Spanish-themed bar, The Tapas Tree, which can seat 120 people, will open there.
These will add to One Fullerton's current crop of 10 food and office tenants, some of which are undergoing renovations.
The changes come as the entire Fullerton strip waterfront area gears up to cater to F1 crowds, office workers in the vicinity, and the tourist throngs expected to be drawn to the rejuvenated Marina Bay, once it is completed.
Next to One Fullerton, the newly refurbished Clifford Pier will reopen with a restaurant and bar by September.
Both One Fullerton and Clifford Pier are part of an area being transformed by developer Sino Group into a waterfront development called The Fullerton Heritage. It will feature a new 98-room Fullerton Bay Hotel and a dining zone in the old double-storey Customs House, both of which will open next year.
And in 2010, diners can look forward to a rooftop restaurant overlooking Marina Bay at the new 50, Collyer Quay office building on the site of the former Overseas Union House.
The 18-storey block is being developed at a cost of $257 million by Clifford Development, a wholly owned subsidiary of Overseas Union Enterprise.
Next to it, the Change Alley Aerial Plaza Tower, a 39m-tall tower that once housed the popular Red Lantern Restaurant, will be upgraded from September. In 2010, it will reopen with two Chinese eateries on the fourth and fifth levels.
Urban Redevelopment Authority director for urban planning and design Fun Siew Leng says the developments, together with international events such as the F1 and Singapore Biennale 2008, will contribute to its vision of Marina Bay as an exciting and vibrant waterfront destination.
Diners such as administration manager Celeste Lim, 27, cannot wait for the revamped Collyer Quay. 'With the new eateries and bars, it will be the next hot spot. Also, the view at the waterfront will be spectacular, as it overlooks the Singapore Flyer and upcoming Marina Sands integrated resort.'
This article was first published in The Straits Times on April 26, 2008.