Tag Archives: dakota crescent

Saving Dakota Crescent

On local press recently, there is a group of architects, led by Mr Jonathan Poh, seeking to save parts of Dakota Crescent. Dakota Crescent is one of the oldest public housing estate in the island. The group is submitting a paper to MND to provide various options to save the entire area, as well as conserving parts of the iconic structures in the estate.

Based on the government’s rejuvenation plans for old housing estates, the 17 rental blocks in Dakota Crescent is primed for demolition. The residents have to vacate the area by end of 2016, to either nearby Cassia Crescent or elsewhere if they decide to buy a new flat. The site is reserved for future residential development.

The conservation plan include 8 “butterfly blocks” — curved buildings with 2 perpendicular wings at the back; blocks 10 and 20, which are similar to the already demolished blocks in St Michael’s estate in Whampoa and the Princess and Duchess estates in Queenstown. The flats were built SIT in 1958.

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Expiry date for Dakota Crescent flats in 2016

Dakota Crescent, one of Singapore’s oldest public housing estates, is making way for developments under Mountbatten’s estate renewal plans.

Residents of the 17 low-rise rental blocks off Old Airport Road must leave by end-2016. Those who choose to buy a new flat anywhere else will get a relocation grant of up to S$15,000.

Only about 400 of the 648 units, built by the Singapore Improvement Trust in 1958, are occupied and about two-thirds of the households have at least one member aged 60 and above.

Retiree Lee Choong Hian, 68, who lives alone in a two-room rental flat, will miss the estate where he has lived for 20 years. “The environment is good. At night it’s peaceful, and transport is convenient,” he said.

Those who want to keep renting will get priority and their rents will not go up. Their options of one- or two-room flats include those in a new block in nearby Cassia Crescent, to be completed in 2016.

They can also choose to buy a new flat from the HDB. Eligible first-timers will get a Central Provident Fund relocation grant of S$15,000 for families or singles jointly buying a place; lone singles get S$7,500.

This grant is being offered for the first time in this relocation exercise. All tenants will also get a moving allowance of S$1,000.

The estate was named by experts as a piece of public housing history that should be saved. It was also one of the sites deemed “sacred” by readers in a Straits Times poll.

The HDB said Blocks 13 and 21 “will be retained for interim use, as there is no immediate redevelopment plan”.

“Purely from a heritage point of view, I think it certainly has value,” said Dr Yeo Kang Shua, conservation architect and Singapore Heritage Society secretary, while agreeing that the state has to balance competing needs.

Mountbatten Member of Parliament Lim Biow Chuan said: “Those who like the heritage mostly don’t live here.”

Even residents who do not welcome the move acknowledge that it has been a long time coming. Mr Yap Boon Hoo, 59, said: “We’ve lived here so many decades, we knew it was just a matter of time.”

The HDB said it would “take cognisance of the social memories of the area when redevelopment takes place in the future”.

The estate’s landmarks include an old-school playground with a blue mosaic-tiled dove design and a provision shop dating back to 1959, revived as a cafe last month.

– See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/2016-expiry-date-dakota-crescent-flats#sthash.hR7jAmT9.dpuf

Flashback to an old housing estate

Bidding farewell to a precious piece of Singapore’s history is always difficult.

Dakota Crescent, one of Singapore’s oldest public housing estates, will be vacated by the end of 2016 to make way for new developments under Mountbatten’s estate renewal plans.

The cosy block of flats just off Old Airport Road has been a sleepy refuge for the Singaporeans who call it home.

We look back at some of the features of Dakota Crescent.

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/housing/story/5-things-remember-about-dakota-crescent-20140725#sthash.HZS1tSLt.dpuf

Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) HDB flats at Dakota Crescent.-- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER FILE

The former Kallang Airport has been home to the People’s Association (PA) since 1960. -- PHOTO: PEOPLE'S ASSOCIATION

Tian Kee provision shop in Dakota Crescent has been turned into a cafe that retains the feel of the old place. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

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Block 62 Dakota Crescent, which won the Cleanest Block Competition in Marine Parade Town for two years consecutively. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Dakota Crescent – Where time stands still

A SWANKY new National Stadium rises in Kallang. Two years ago, the nearby Goodman Arts Centre opened its doors to a hip young crowd. One street away, a new condominium has been built on the site of Housing Board flats.

But amid these changes, time has passed by Dakota Crescent, one of Singapore’s oldest HDB estates, located off Old Airport Road. The 17 blocks of low-rise flats have hardly changed since being built in 1958.

No wonder, then, that their retro architecture and old-school playground make them a hot spot for photographers and artists.

“It’s rare to see such old flats,” said Mr Renalto Wong, 25, who was there on a Sunday, sketching a 54-year-old provision shop that recently closed down. “There’s something comfortable and nostalgic about this place – it’s almost like a hideout.”

The estate was named after the Douglas DC-3 Dakota, a model of plane that landed at Kallang Airport in the past.

Built by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) – the forerunner of the HDB – most of the 600 flats are leased to low-income families under the board’s public rental scheme. The flats are occupied mostly by elderly residents, who pay as low as $26 a month for a one-room flat and $44 a month for a two-room flat.

Scrap-goods buyer Ng Guan Swee, 68, has lived in Dakota Crescent since it was built.

“There was a fire in Cecil Street in the 50s and our house got burned down, so we were allocated a house in Dakota Crescent,” he recalled in Mandarin.

At that time, Mr Ng’s grandmother had bound feet – as was the custom in her day – and the family requested a ground-level unit. Theirs, at Block 20, has been home to Mr Ng and his sister for more than 50 years.

“When we came in 1958, there were no streetlights,” said Mr Ng, sitting amid old laser disc players, hi-fi sets and other vintage items in his home. He remembers traversing the dark streets to go to the nearby Guillemard shophouses for snacks.

But in the 1960s, as more families moved in, a market sprang up opposite the estate.

“Almost every unit in this estate was occupied. Neighbours knew one another and our doors were always open,” said Mr Ng. “Those were good times.”

Madam Yong Fong Keow, 64, who moved there in the 60s, also misses such communal life.

Gesturing at a new condominium, she said in Mandarin: “There was a bakery there. At 3pm or 4pm, we would smell the aroma of freshly baked bread. That’s when you grabbed some money and a neighbour and went to buy bread.”

But now, communal life in Dakota is a shadow of what it used to be. Only about 60 per cent of the units are occupied. Of a row of four shops, only two – both Chinese medicine clinics – remain.

Neighbours started moving out in the 90s, some to live with their children.

Then, a new wave of tenants moved there in 2005 when the HDB leased empty units to private operators, who, in turn, rented them to foreign workers.

“You could hear Thai accents, Filipino accents and Chinese accents around the neighbourhood, it was like a mini United Nations,” Mr Ng joked.

While some residents got used to these new faces, others did not.

Madam Amy De Silva, a long-time resident in her 60s, said: “Some of them were rowdy and you could hear them coming home late at night. Their living habits just didn’t suit ours.”

The HDB’s agreement with the managing agent ended last year and the foreign workers have since moved out of the Dakota estate.

However, at Block 32, an empty unit is littered with cardboard boxes and clothes. Mr Y.Y Goh, 57, a resident, said foreign workers live there but they do not disturb anyone.

One empty unit in Block 12, though, has become a party spot for teens. “They drink, eat, smoke, and mess the place up,” said a resident who wanted to be known only as Mr Zhang.

When The Straits Times visited, there were drink cans, chip packets and cardboard boxes in the unit.

In another vacant unit in Block 16, graffiti was scrawled on the walls. Some residents suspect teenagers sniffed glue there – some were spotted going into the unit with bags over their noses.

The HDB said that it has received complaints about crime and mischief in the area and informed the police.

But Dakota, now somewhat of a ghost town, may soon be more crowded again. The HDB said it is offering empty units as interim housing to needy families awaiting new flats. They were expected to start moving in progressively from last month. It has not indicated any long-term plans to develop the estate, however.

Although Dakota has been dubbed an “old people’s estate”, the few young faces who live there have no complaints.

“It’s a five-minute walk from Dakota and Mountbatten MRT stations, we have the Old Airport Road hawker centre and I hang out with friends at the Kallang Leisure Park nearby,” said Mr Kartigesan Saravanan, 20, who has lived in Dakota for the past 13 years. “It’s really a good location.”

Indeed, resident Bill Koh, who is in his 50s, said: “So many new buildings are coming up around us, it’s hard not to worry what might happen.

“People always come here and say how nice this estate is. There’s lots of green space between these old flats. It’s a pity if one of Singapore’s oldest estates is gone – maybe they should consider conserving it.”
– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/the-big-story/case-you-missed-it/story/suburb-where-time-stands-still-20131104#sthash.FKBJBMLk.dpuf