A mall set to be built in the heart of the leafy Holland Village could make the charming enclave even more vibrant and popular.
But businesses are concerned about disruptions in the interim and the possibility of higher rents - and some residents want to preserve the complexion of the place.
The popular expatriate haunt was earmarked as an identity node - a well-loved area with distinctive character - in the Government's Master Plan 2014.
Plans to build a mixed-use project as part of the Holland Village Extension Plan are gaining pace, with a 2.31ha land parcel released on the confirmed list of the Government Land Sales Programme on Tuesday.
The new development, which could rise 11-storeys, will be built on the site of the carpark behind Holland Village Market and Food Centre and former Housing Board flats. The carpark will be closed by the second half of next year for construction to begin.
Many who visit the area for its cafes and watering holes have already complained of parking woes, business owners told The Straits Times.
Despite the opening of a Circle Line MRT station, most customers live in nearby estates and prefer to drive, said fashion retailer Ms Ling, who is in her 30s.
"Some prefer not to fight for a parking space before dinner and go to Dempsey instead, where parking is free," she said.
Although a temporary carpark will be built before the new project's underground carpark is ready, business owners are unsure whether that will be enough.
The new complex, which is expected to feature some 580 homes and a 120,000 sq ft mall about the size of the Mandarin Gallery in Orchard Road, is likely to attract developers with experience in building mixed developments, experts said. They expect bids for the site to come in between $1,200 and $1,300 per sq ft (psf) per plot ratio.
"There is an opportunity for the retail development to be established as a destination mall," said Mr Desmond Sim, CBRE research head. "As such, landlords in the vicinity may also benefit from the spillover effect."
Mr Donald Han, managing director of Chesterton Singapore, expects a 10 per cent to 15 per cent uplift in rents, noting that prime ground-floor units facing Holland Avenue are leased for about $13 to $18 per sq ft, while shops that are tucked away are rented for about $8 to $12 psf a month.
Mr Sam Thambi, 38, owner of Thambi Magazine Store, hopes rents will not rise, as operating costs are already high. "If what we are paying goes up, there will be a point when it will really affect our business," he said.
However, owner of jewellery shop KaiLife, Ms Shareen Wong, 39, said she welcomed the new development. "If it brings more people, then why not?" she said.
The prime location of the new residential units would lift prices of surrounding condominiums and resale prices of flats nearby, which already do not come cheap, said Knight Frank research head Alice Tan. A three-room flat in Holland Drive can fetch about $560,000, analysts said.
"I think a lot of people from Generation X will feel that it is a waste, because the whole place is rich culturally," said Mr Andrew Chow, 47, who lives in a Holland Drive flat. "There are already so many malls - why redevelop a place with rich history?"
This article was first published on June 12, 2014.
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