Singapore

First new-generation neighbourhood centre opens in Punggol

First new-generation neighbourhood centre developed by HDB opens in Punggol

After two years of selling women's clothing online through their business Mini House, Mr Adrian Tan, 38, and his wife, Ms Tran Vu Yen Vy, 34, seized the chance to open a physical store when they landed a good deal on the rent.

They live next to new mall and neighbourhood centre Oasis Terraces in Punggol Drive, and their business is among 10 start-ups in the entrepreneur cluster on the third floor of the seven-storey building.

Mr Tan said they pay about $765 a month for rent, which includes utilities. This is about a quarter of what they would have to pay in Waterway Point in Punggol Central, about a 15-minute walk away.

Oasis Terraces, which officially opened yesterday, is located next to Oasis LRT station.

It is the first new-generation neighbourhood centre developed by the Housing Board (HDB) with the feedback of residents.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who opened the facility yesterday, said there will be five more coming up in the next three years.

Oasis Terraces includes 106 shops, family-friendly eateries, playgrounds, a 24-hour fitness centre and a supermarket that opens till 11pm.

It marks the comeback of HDB in building and developing these retail spaces in the heartlands.

In 2000, it allowed private developers to take the lead to tap their expertise in developing suburban commercial malls.

Of the five more new-generation neighbourhood malls being built, Buangkok Square in Hougang will start operating this year. Canberra Plaza in Sembawang will see works completed this year, Hougang Rivercourt in Hougang and Northshore Plaza in Punggol next year; and Anchorvale Village in Sengkang by 2022.

HDB is the landlord for Oasis Terraces but has a managing agent to oversee the leasing. It said entrepreneurs there enjoy lower costs and rents as the store spaces come with fittings such as flooring and lighting.

For Ms Vy, who runs Mini House with her friend, Ms Tran Thi Chan, 31, having a physical store provides customers with assurance that it is a legitimate business.

"People can also come and see the products for themselves..." she said. Previously, customers would place orders after watching their livestream on Facebook, where they introduce their products.

Some of the mall tenants are also selling their products on Lazada, as part of a tie-up between the e-commerce platform and HDB.

Among them is Green-on-Go owner Deepika Jindal, 35, who opened a store in the entrepreneur cluster in November last year, selling eco-friendly products such as stainless steel straws.

The mother of two, who was a housewife before, said sales have been better than expected both online and in the physical store. "We are trying to provide more affordable and stylish options," she said. "With the lower rent here, we can compete with online prices."

BUSINESS & FINANCE