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Healthy boost for Novena businesses

Posted by on in Residential
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From being more of a residential area with private housing and condominiums, Novena has transformed into a medical hub in the past few years.

And with the private medical centres and malls that have sprouted up near the Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), which has been there since 1909, and Novena MRT station, business is booming.

But things are different on the other side of Thomson Road, where quiet nostalgia is being pushed out by the busy new.

Well-known eateries like chicken rice restaurant Wee Nam Kee are moving to make way for development, while other shops are considering closing because they cannot compete with the shiny malls across the road.

And the developments have been coming thick and fast.

Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital opened last year, Novena Specialist Centre the year before, and Novena Medical Centre opened in 2007. All three offer medical suites for rent and for sale.

In August, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine's Novena campus will open its doors to its first batch of students. A new 300-bed infectious disease hospital just across from TTSH will also open by 2018.

More condominiums have also sprung up, in addition to landed property.

And then there are the malls.

Novena Square underwent a revamp and was rebranded Velocity@Novena Square in 2006. Korean-themed mall Square 2 opened in 2007.

Tenants told The Straits Times that their sales have improved over the years with larger crowds made up of staff as well as patients and their families from the nearby medical cluster.

At the 428-room Oasia Hotel near the Novena MRT station, occupancy rates have doubled since it opened two years ago.

But while these developments have brought in the crowds, other businesses farther away from the MRT station have not seen the same numbers.

Across the road from Velocity@Novena Square, at the junction of Thomson Road and Newton Road, stand Goldhill Plaza and Goldhill Centre, which were developed around the early 1970s.

Owners of the older shops there said business is either stagnant or declining. Asked about the future, many seemed resigned to their fate or were intending to relocate.

Some shops had no choice but to move out.

Restaurants at Novena Ville had to relocate by the end of last month to make way for Novena Regency, a five-storey freehold mixed development of 100 residential and commercial units.

The new building, which is expected to be completed by 2017, will provide accommodation and shops for the surrounding medical hub and offices nearby.

Chicken rice restaurant Wee Nam Kee moved out about a week ago, after operating at Novena Ville for 26 years. It was the last of the eateries to vacate its premises.

Credit from The Straits Times - 12 April 2013
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