Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Changing face of Duxton

  1. #1
    mr funny is offline Any complaints please PM me
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    8,129

    Default Changing face of Duxton

    http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/sub/...43140,00.html?

    Published April 9, 2010

    Changing face of Duxton

    Re-gentrification of the once trendy area that has suffered a blow to its reputation is starting to take root, report OLIVIA HO and JAIME EE


    WHEN it came to picking a location for her new gastrobar, Celina Tan had myriad options to choose from. She could join the here-today-gone-in-six-months concept restaurants that clutter Dempsey village, the quieter, leafy surrounds of Rochester Park, or even add to the bohemian buzz of, say, Wes*** Estate in Portsdown Road. Instead, she chose Duxton Road - better known as the 'other Geylang' with its proliferation of KTV bars and ladies of the night trying to interest pub-goers in their own daily specials.

    Call it a leap of faith, but Ms Tan - who runs the five-month-old Celina's with her husband - is but one of the new residents of the Duxton area who believe they can breathe respectable life into the once trendy neighbourhood that has suffered a blow to its reputation over the past decade.

    Before the phrase 'lifestyle enclave' became part of the vocabulary of Singaporean hipsters, the Duxton area - comprising Duxton Road, Duxton Hill and neighbouring Craig Road - was home to upscale F&B outlets such as the fine-dining French restaurant L'Aigle D'or at the former Duxton Hotel, and quaint eateries such as a Brittany-style creperie which specialised in authentic buckwheat pancakes from the French region.

    Thomas Choong, owner of bespoke Chinese restaurant Xi Yan on Craig Road, fondly recalls classic establishments such as J J Mahoney's and Elvis, popular in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. 'J J Mahoney's was a very nice pub,' he says. 'In fact, they were the pub in Singapore, and Duxton area was the place to be. Before Dempsey, before many other places.'

    Residential element

    However, as their fortunes turned, so too did the surrounding area as dubious nightspots began to make the area their playground. 'At first there were not so many sleazy pubs,' says Karen Scharenguivel, a manager at HBH Singapore who has worked in various places around the area for 20 years. 'Then they cropped up one by one. Like ants to honey.'

    That is all set to change, thanks to police enforcement and the onset of housing developments such as the iconic [email protected] which will inject a strong residential element to the neighbourhood. It may take a while, but the re-gentrification of Duxton is starting to take root.

    Besides Celina's - which specialises in matching food and wine - there is also the four-month-old Pavilion Chinese restaurant in Craig Road, and the just-opened Japanese restaurant Mizu. Then there is the 11/2-year-old Saraceno, at the now renamed Berjaya Hotel, and a popular two-year-old Irish pub Toucan.

    Non-F&B set-ups include Elite Bicycles, a concept store from the United States which fits and repairs bikes. Located on Duxton Hill, it is already seeing a steady clientele from the Pinnacle, says Daphne Wee, director of Elite Bicycles Asia. 'We are getting a lot of walk-in business from residents who want their bikes repaired.' When asked why they chose to open in Duxton, Ms Wee shrugs and says, 'This place has edge. And a big parking lot.'

    Like the other tenants in the area, Ms Wee takes comfort in the changes that are taking place. Despite having been open for only one month, she's already noticed that 'one of the neighbouring pubs is moving out on Saturday'. Soon, she adds, 'this whole place will be re-gentrified'.

    Old-timers such as Steve Hansen of BROTH and Rolando Luceri of Pasta Brava are confident that the era of the karaoke pubs will soon be over. 'I think the government is planning to clear the area, especially with that big condo Pinnacle so near,' theorises Mr Luceri. 'There are a few bars that already moved out, a lot of places that can be reused.'

    Mr Hansen adds: 'I hear the police are not issuing liquor licences any more. If you want to have a pub in Duxton Road, you have to buy up an existing one.'

    At the moment, there are about seven empty spaces in Duxton Road and Duxton Hill that have been vacated by karaoke bars. Marcus Lim, the property agent for one of the shophouses, says that several parties who enquired about renting the premises were from the F&B business. For the karaoke bars that remain, control is tight. One pub owner, who declined to be named, said that the police perform checks on his pub a couple of times a week, usually after midnight.

    In the daytime, Duxton possesses a picturesque, almost village-like quality. Up on Duxton Hill, the elegant facades of conservation shophouses line cobble-stoned streets. Were it not for the neon signs hanging lifelessly in the sunlight, it would be hard to imagine that it takes on an uglier facade after dusk.

    It's the secluded beauty of Duxton that Mr Hansen hopes will prevail with the cleaning up of the area. He feels that it's this intangible charm that has contributed to the staying power of his 10-year-old restaurant. 'For me, my instinct tells me it's just the setting of the street,' he says. 'I can see the impression it has on people's faces when they first come here.'

    Concurs Keith Winders, general manager at Australian steakhouse Uluru. 'It's a lovely place - in the early evening you can see sunbirds in the trees.' Adds Celina's Ms Tan: 'It's very quaint. Especially Duxton Hill - it's much prettier than so many other places.'

    Its old-world charm, lower rental and proximity to the central business district are the reasons that Ms Tan took the plunge to open in Duxton, but the challenge now is still to convince the public that the time is right to re-discover the place. While stalwarts like BROTH and Pasta Brava maintain a regular following, traffic is slow for some of the newer entrants.

    'People don't actually realise that it is changing,' says Ms Tan. While she and her husband personally do not mind the 'girly bars', she does feel that their reputation affects traffic. 'I don't want them to be completely gone, but I also don't want them to be coming out into the street. The men may feel comfortable but the women don't, and when you don't get women you don't get customers. Like that, it's very hard to get regular clientele.'

    Celina's currently opens only on weekdays as it caters to the crowd from the nearby financial district. However, if it is popular with the residential crowd, it will open on weekends. 'We are practically at their back door,' says Ms Tan's husband, Fook Onn Kok, gesturing animatedly at the glittering 50-storey-high Pinnacle towering over Duxton Road.

    One Duxton Road tenant which is seeing increased activity due to the Pinnacle is the five-year-old spa Glow International. Partner Lily Kew has already signed up five residents for Glow's spa packages. Two of them even signed up as early as 2008 because they knew they were going to move in. Ms Kew adds that she's also seeing more walk-in customers.

    Mr Hansen admits to a love-hate relationship with the seedy side of Duxton. 'It's been quite entertaining for our guests - they have to wade through all the action going on down there,' he says.

    But he is less inclined to feel the same way when BROTH gets entangled in the action. Four years ago, his staff were taking out the trash one Friday night when a bottle rolled out and smashed. The sound attracted the attention of a group of drunks on the pavement, who took it to be a challenge and assaulted Mr Hansen's staff. A police report was made and it subsequently became a court case.

    Presence of expats

    It doesn't mean that decent pubs don't have a place in Duxton. The Irish pub Toucan, for example, gets an average of 100 customers a night, says outlet supervisor Mohammed Farid. The location was chosen because of the expats living in the area - 80 per cent of its clientele are expats with 20 per cent being locals, adds Mr Mohammed.

    The Pinnacle, though, has been a definite draw for tenants such as Kelvin Lee, chef-owner of Pavilion. 'It adds life to the area,' he says. 'There are a lot of offices around here, and the rent is affordable so we use the savings to offer great quality at reasonable price.'

    Attracted by the old-world charm of the area, Mr Lee thinks the area 'will become another Keong Saik Street - it used to be a red-light district but now it's a hip area with plenty of good restaurants and boutique hotels.' Business at Pavilion has been good too, with lots of repeat customers. 'We do over 100 covers a day,' adds Mr Lee.

    While restaurants and nightspots seem to dominate the area, Duxton's tenants hope that other lifestyle businesses will move in to offer more variety, such as nearby Club Street. 'Not just food and drink, but other lifestyle options, like a bakery or even a Singaporean Dean & Deluca,' says Kathy Lim-Sheehy, CEO of the Singapore Straits Wine Company, which supplies wine to many restaurants in the area. 'An upmarket bookstore would be great,' adds Ms Tan.

    'It would be great to have more of a buzz,' agrees Mr Hansen, adding too many eateries would have a saturation effect. 'It would be a travesty to have a restaurant in every single shop, like at Boat Quay or Clarke Quay,' he says. 'If that happened here, I would be the first to throw up my hands and go.'

    That probably won't happen. Perhaps as new entrepreneurs warm to the appeal of Duxton, an organic growth will finally turn the area into what it was always meant to be - an eclectic neighbourhood with an old-world charm.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    5,841

    Default

    At the top of [email protected] now. Those units facing the port and expressway damn bloody noisy. Three types of noise, constantly expressway noise from cars, hooting sound of the ships, clanging of containers during loading and unloading. I have been standing here for an hour and the sound non stop

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    8,013

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Regulators
    At the top of [email protected] now. Those units facing the port and expressway damn bloody noisy. Three types of noise, constantly expressway noise from cars, hooting sound of the ships, clanging of containers during loading and unloading. I have been standing here for an hour and the sound non stop
    Those sounds you've described is not always present day in and day out. I was up there and heard nothing like what you've mentioned except the whistling sound of the strong wind!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    5,841

    Default

    I think you are standing on a different side, I was referring to the side facing the expressway and psa port. The container port is 24 hr likewise the expressway so I don't understand you hearing nothing except for the wind. Maybe you are referring to the quieter side facing the cbd.
    Quote Originally Posted by ysyap
    Those sounds you've described is not always present day in and day out. I was up there and heard nothing like what you've mentioned except the whistling sound of the strong wind!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    1,569

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Regulators
    I think you are standing on a different side, I was referring to the side facing the expressway and psa port. The container port is 24 hr likewise the expressway so I don't understand you hearing nothing except for the wind. Maybe you are referring to the quieter side facing the cbd.
    Confirmed there is the expressway and psa port noise.

    I hear it at level 25th of the HDB pointblock that is in front of spottiswoode park and facing the railway.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    42

    Default MRT Behind Seletaris Empty Plot Land

    Hi I just heard from reliable source that future MRT Station is just
    behind Seletaris empty plot land. Can anyone share ? If true then
    huat las !

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 0
    -: 25-10-21, 12:29
  2. Joo Chiat's changing face
    By TheOnlyGayInTheVillage in forum District 15
    Replies: 1
    -: 08-07-13, 12:58
  3. Would you buy [email protected] at 800k
    By phantom_opera in forum Coffeeshop Talk
    Replies: 44
    -: 05-10-12, 18:43
  4. The changing face of Katong
    By mr funny in forum Singapore Private Condominium Property Discussion and News
    Replies: 62
    -: 28-10-10, 00:02
  5. The changing face of Singapore
    By mr funny in forum HDB, EC, commercial and industrial property discussion
    Replies: 0
    -: 08-06-09, 18:16

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •