SINGAPORE - Circular Road is only 400m long. But it is the kind of street where well-dressed executives knock back beers at Irish bars while, a few doors down, women in hot pants and high heels loiter outside bars with their windows covered up by giant advertisement posters for Chivas whisky. Diners calmly eat their dinner at coffee shops, as enthusiastic warbling from the Mandarin karaoke joints nearby waft intermittently by.
The last time Circular Road was cool was probably in the 1990s, when alt-rocker wannabes chilled out over drinks and prata in the more laid-back stretch behind bustling Boat Quay.
Since then, hipster paradise such as Haji Lane and Club Street have overtaken it in terms of cachet. The time is ripe, however, for a revival - with new developments afoot. New anchor tenant Limited Edition Concepts took over the master lease of 28 shophouse units in the area last month, intending to tweak the tenant mix.
The plan is for new "bespoke" food and beverage concepts that will imbue Circular Road with a sophisticated vibe similar to London's Covent Garden.
Furthermore, a new three-month trial to turn the road into a pedestrian-only street on Friday and Saturday nights starts today. Existing tenants are hoping it will increase foot traffic.
Already, Limited Edition Concepts, which currently manages basement nightclub Club Kyo at Cecil Street, is moving its upscale bistro lounge The Vault from nearby South Bridge Road into the neighbourhood.
Mr Tyrone Tabing, executive director of the non-profit Singapore River One organisation, predicts that "the days of the seedy bars on Circular Road are ending".
Singapore River One represents the business interests of tenants across Clarke Quay, Boat Quay and Robertson Quay.