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Rejuvenating Smith Street to Enhance the Inclusiveness and Vibrancy of Chinatown

• A joint SLA-STB-URA Price-Quality tender launched for 11 to 37 Smith Street shophouses and adjacent State land aims to rejuvenate the area and broaden offerings to attract more diverse visitorship to historic Chinatown.
• To showcase and enhance visitors’ experience of our Chinese heritage and Chinatown’s rich history, the joint tender expands uses along Smith Street beyond typical retail and dining through community programmes, creative lifestyle concepts, galleries, serviced apartments as well as co-living and co-working spaces.

  Published: 30 November 2023

Singapore's iconic Smith Street, located in the Chinatown conservation area, is set to be rejuvenated with differentiated offerings and renewed experiences for locals and tourists alike. The Singapore Land Authority (SLA), Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) jointly launched a collective tender today to appoint a master tenant to rejuvenate the contiguous row of shophouses from 11 to 37 Smith Street1  as well as the adjacent pedestrian mall on State land. Conceptualised in consultation with local stakeholders such as the Chinatown precinct stakeholders and the Chinese Community Liaison Group, the rejuvenation project aims to inject vibrancy and drive greater footfall to the area with community programmes and more diverse offerings such as creative lifestyle, retail and co-living/co-working concepts, while preserving the area’s cultural and architectural heritage.

The Chinatown conservation area tells the story of our Chinese heritage and is a signature destination where both international visitors and locals can experience local culture through traditional festivals and celebrations, performances, dining options, heritage offerings, and interactions with residents and businesses in Chinatown. Nestled in the heart of the historic district Smith Street is well known for its culinary offerings and will now embark on a journey of renewal and innovation by integrating more diverse experiences for all.

Key objectives of the rejuvenation project include:

a) Placemaking: In its early days, Smith Street was known as hei yuen kai (Cantonese for Theatre Street), due to its reputation as a vibrant area for Chinese Opera which attracted packed audiences and patrons to the street. The rejuvenation project presents an opportunity to rekindle that vibrancy by launching regular community programming at the adjacent pedestrian mall and introducing shops and restaurants and other active uses at the first storey of the shophouses. Community and grassroots organisations will also be able to continue celebrating festive occasions along the street.

b) Culinary Diversity: Smith Street will continue to be home to Singapore’s rich cultural heritage with an expanded array of F&B offerings to showcase a good spread of Singaporean cuisine. The introduction of new dining concepts and gastronomic experiences aims to introduce a melting pot of flavours that reflect Singapore's multicultural identity.

c) Creative Lifestyle and Retail Spaces: The rejuvenation of Smith Street will bolster the rich plethora of existing traditional trades in the historic district through a curated selection of boutiques, local artisans, crafts, and unique products that reflect Singapore’s cultural diversity, where locals and visitors can explore a blend of traditional and contemporary offerings. Other potential creative lifestyle offerings could include gamified tours, arts and cultural galleries, workshops, studios and more. The upper storeys of shophouses could be used as serviced apartments, co-living and co-working spaces that not only caters to the growing demand for such uses but also allow users to immerse themselves in the precinct's cultural heritage.

d) Sustainability: Sustainability initiatives will feature strongly in the rejuvenated Smith Street, such as through sensitive and sustainable design approaches, the innovative use of green technology and the designation of spaces that promote recycling/upcycling efforts. Proposals should demonstrate clear sustainability goals and outcomes in line with the Singapore Green Plan 2030 such as infrastructure improvements, environmentally friendly practices in their day-to-day business operations and curation of programmes to raise awareness on sustainability.

The rejuvenation project will also prioritise the preservation of Chinatown's cultural and architectural heritage through the adoption of conservation guidelines and best practices. This will ensure that the conserved shophouses continue to retain its intrinsic character and historical value and provide inclusive spaces for all to enjoy the rich heritage of Chinatown.

Ms Carrie Wong, Director, Business Planning and Development, SLA, highlighted the significance of this joint tender, saying, “This joint tender underscores Singapore's commitment to preserve its rich cultural heritage while adapting to the evolving needs and preferences of residents and international visitors. We are excited to introduce a multi-faceted experience that not only honours tradition but also embraces modernity. It is testament to our commitment to innovation and sustainability, making it a world class destination for everyone to enjoy.”

Ms Lim Shoo Ling, Director, Arts and Cultural Precincts, STB, said, “Our placemaking efforts in cultural precincts focus on working in close partnership with the local community and precinct businesses to bring to life the authentic stories and experiences of Singapore’s unique heritage and culture. We are pleased to be part of this joint tender to unlock tourism value by enhancing the attractiveness of Chinatown to deliver quality, revitalised and differentiated experiences for locals and international visitors.”

Mr Bernard Leong, Chairman of Chinatown Business Association, looks forward to the rejuvenation, saying, “We are excited to see the introduction of new uses and reignite buzz to Chinatown. The Chinatown Business Association has drawn up a pipeline of exciting events, promotions, and cultural showcases organised to welcome both residents and international visitors to discover the different nuances of Chinese culture as well as provide opportunities to explore Singapore’s rich multicultural heritage within Chinatown’s unique and historical setting.”

Price-Quality tender

The Price and Quality tender aims to appoint a single master tenant to undertake the integrated management of the shophouses at 11 to 37 Smith Street and the adjacent State land plot that totals to an estimated land area of 3,166 sqm and an estimated Gross Floor Area of 3,073 sqm. Please refer to Annex for details of the site.

The tender will be evaluated based on Price (30%), CAPEX (20%) and Quality (50%) criteria, with an emphasis on the proposed concepts and the tenderers' ability to achieve the vision of the site as key considerations. The Quality component of the proposed concept will be evaluated based on the potential of the proposals to enhance vibrancy of the area, showcase local heritage and cultural concepts as well as the curation of programmes, interactive activities and events to synergise with the wider precinct.

Tenderers are also required to conceptualise the long-term planning of the space with clear financial and visitorship projections in support of the proposed business plan. The successful tenderer will be offered an upfront tenure of five years, renewable for a second term of four years, to facilitate better resource planning.

The tender will be open for 12 weeks starting from 30 November 2023. Interested tenderers can access SLA’s State Property Online Information (SPIO) portal, at https://app.sla.gov.sg/spio for more information.


1Addresses for the shophouse units are 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21 Smith Street (excluding #02-01 and #03-01) and 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33 and 37 Smith Street.
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