Monday, February 27, 2012

Pay up or get out

Straits Times: Sun, Feb 26
It has become the hang-out place for yuppies, expatriates from nearby international schools and the well-heeled in smart-casual attire who throng its restaurants, spas, salons and pub-lined streets.


But a quiet junction in the bustling, suburban enclave of Serangoon Gardens tells another story behind the retro charm of its quaint shops.


The intersection of Maju and Portchester Avenue has seen livelier days. Until two months ago, the lounge-bar Liquid Kitchen drew the supper crowd looking for a nightcap, and soccer fans over the weekends.


But now, the shutters are down at the six-year-old outlet after the landlord doubled the rent when the lease came up for renewal last December. The new rent at the 2,700 sq ft two-storey unit would have been $24,000, up from $12,000, LifeStyle understands.


And other outlets tell of similar woes over rent hikes too, particularly the mom-and-pop shops which are part of the area's charm. They are struggling to compete with the big boys who can afford to pay high rents.


With a new mall, myVillage, touting brand names such as Bakerzin, Shin Kushiya and Relish, as well as standalone stores for chains such as Cold Storage Gourmet, Harry's Bar and Sushi Tei, property agents say that Serangoon Gardens could be going the way of Holland Village...

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Team Marshe
Martin Koh/ Sherry Tang
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