Let's keep Katong's legacy alive

Let's keep Katong's legacy alive

Familiar Katong landmarks continue to be under threat even as a new draft master plan for future land use from the Government opens up exciting living options islandwide and the preservation of neighbourhoods such as Holland Village, Jalan Kayu and Serangoon Gardens.

There is no mention of further efforts to protect the Katong/Joo Chiat area, which has lost a fair bit of its old-world charm over the years.

For example, along the stretch of East Coast Road from its junction with Haig Road to its junction with Joo Chiat Road, two landmarks have undergone or will undergo a transformation, even though parts will be conserved.

The Red House Bakery, once famous for its puffs and cakes, has been given a fresh coat of paint, and an extension - housing apartments - has come up behind the red shophouse.

Property agents are now selling units in this development, with the pitch that residents will live right smack in an area rich with Peranakan history, architecture and food.

That might change since a big plot of land, which once housed the Joo Chiat police station, is now the subject of a tender after the Urban Redevelopment Authority received a bid that meets the minimum selling price.

Word is that a mixed-use project, combining hotel, retail and residential elements, is likely to spring up.

The iconic police station building cannot be torn down, but the cluster of two-storey buildings behind it will not escape the wrecking ball.

If that happens, yet another patch of Katong will lose its link to the past while traffic flow is likely to worsen - motorists are already fuming over the gridlock that set in after I12 Katong, which replaced the sedate Katong Mall, opened.

The area has witnessed a rash of new condos born from an en-bloc craze that prompted residents of old estates such as Rose Garden, Maryland Park and Maryland Point to sell out for big profits.

That is their prerogative, but the police station plot is state land - it would have been nice if the Government had not earmarked the site for yet another commercial project.

The area is already home to two big hotels - Grand Mercure Roxy and Village Hotel Katong - as well as the Parkway Parade and I12 Katong malls.

Of course, balancing competing interests - those who champion change and those who want to keep things as they are - is a delicate exercise.

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