$1.9m to liven up HDB shops

SINGAPORE - To help some 2,800 heartland shops make their neighbourhoods more vibrant, $1.9 million has been set aside for the sixth round of the Housing Board's Revitalisation of Shops scheme.

This will go towards co-funding promotional events at 27 heartland shopping areas, as well as upgrading works for two sites in Bukit Batok and Simei.

The funding is in response to requests from local merchant groups after the success of previous rounds, said HDB in a statement yesterday.

Indeed, the 27 associations receiving event co-funding this time had all previously applied for upgrading funds too.

Tampines N2 Merchants' Association, for instance, has tapped the scheme every year for its events.

These range from lantern displays during the Mid-Autumn Festival, to booths selling Mother's Day gifts - the association's next event, coming up next month.

Said association president Kwek Hong Lim: "The scheme helps to kick-start everything. "From then on, when they see the benefits, the merchants will happily come in to support such events."

One such retailer is handphone accessories shop I.T. Mobile, which often contributes mobile accessories as gifts.

Said staff member Lynn Tan, 35: "With the events, we tend to see more people coming around, more shoppers."

In the past five rounds of the scheme, shops saw sales improve by up to 30 per cent during such events, said HDB.

This round will help fund at least 60 events, held in conjunction with occasions such as the Great Singapore Sale, Christmas and Chinese New Year.

About $8.4 million has been given out since the scheme started in 2007.

It has helped 4,600 shops at 52 sites - more than half of all HDB town and neighbourhood centres.

Bukit Batok West Merchants' Association said growing competition made its members decide to apply for upgrading help.

"Nowadays, you have all these new malls coming up, like Westgate (in Jurong East)," said association president Ong Gee Hong, who has run his tailor's shop in the neighbourhood for three decades.

"We must upgrade, otherwise we cannot catch up," he added.

Besides co-funding upgrading works and events, the scheme also grants a rent-free period of up to a month for tenants that renovate their own shops.

HDB shop owners and tenants with queries can call the HDB Commercial Properties toll-free line, 1800-866-3073.


This article was published on April 4 in The Straits Times.

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