The future of recently sold Serangoon Plaza - home to part of the well-known retail giant Mustafa - is undecided.
But the authorities have already ruled out three high-rise plans proposed by the firm that now owns the building.
The site of the five-storey mall cannot be used for a hotel, for instance, or any development that would worsen the area's traffic woes.
The commercial complex was sold en bloc earlier this month to its majority owner Feature Development in a deal that values the property at $400 million.
The building's Management Corporation Strata Title had floated three options in a proposed outline application submitted to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in July last year.
All were rejected a month later.
Two ideas nixed were 20-storey developments made up of an office tower or residential block, with a three-storey podium of shops and a carpark.
These were refused as they would worsen the heavy traffic on Serangoon Road, said the URA in an official document. The third option was a 24-storey tower with medical suites and hotel rooms.
This, too, was rejected, owing to concerns it would aggravate the area's "social and vice-related problems", about which nearby residents had complained to URA.
"It would not be in the public's interest to allow new hotels, boarding houses, serviced apartments or backpackers' hostels in this area in order not to worsen the current problem," said URA in its written refusal.
The site could also not support developments that tall, it added. Buildings surrounding Serangoon Plaza are six to eight storeys high.
DTZ Singapore research head Lee Lay Keng noted that the area has quite a number of developments, including the nearby Parkroyal Hotel on Kitchener Road and City Square Mall