Question(s): What is unique about these shophouses? Who owns them?
These Single-storey shophouses along 601 – 639 Balestier Road was a common sight in the 1950s, as they were the simplest form of architecture in kampongs ("villages" in Bahasa Melayu) during those times. However, as Singapore progresses further as a first-world country, such sites have become rarer by the day. Today, as we look at these stretch of shophouses, they certainly reflect uniqueness in different dimensions.
|621 Balestier Road|
Firstly, these shouphouses have been preserved by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). The URA has outlined specific guidelines stating that the layout and architecture of these shophouses are not allowed to be changed. Now, that is unique! Given how scarce land is in Singapore and consequently leading to the authorities squeezing out every square inch possible out of this little red dot... to the extent that most Singaporeans sleep tightly together on sky-level apartment blocks and for some, worse: they have to drive underwater (think Marina Coastal Expressway).
The other dimension of uniqueness that this stretch of shophouses possess is that this is the only stretch of shophouses in Singapore that houses four Tau Sar Piah confectioneries in a row.
|Kennedy as the poster boy|
The owner of 601 – 639 Balestier Road is the Ngee Ann Kongsi Foundation, a Teochew welfare foundation. Besides this stretch of shophouses, Ngee Ann Kongsi Foundation also has under its name, shops along Orchard Road. The most notable being Ngee Ann City.