Saturday, 12 October 2013

Grand Old Dame Of Pearls Centre

Bird View of Pearls Centre
At the foot of the Pearl's Hill along the Chinatown, where I frequent to the old dame building built in 1970s, was my source budget to purchasing cheap items mainly household items among the shops since early 1980s and even hang out with my old friends and classmates who lived in Chinatown since they were born and grew up in Chinatown.
The building located at 100 Eu Tong Sen street, was built and owned by Outram Reatly in 1977 - Pearls Centre.
Facade of Pearls Centre
Before the Pearl Centre was built, it was the site of a Chinese gambier plantation during early 19th century. In May 1822, Captain James Pearl, the Commander of The Indiana, was granted permission from the Temenggong to acquire the site for his residence and later, developed the site into a pepper plantation. The site was named Pearl’s Hill in 1828 and was sold back to Government later that year.
Back view facade of Pearl Centre
Closeup: side view of Pearls Centre
The Pearls Centre was once a popular location for small businesses during the 1980s. The retail mix of the centre comprises food and beverage outlets, man-to made tailors, travel agencies, salons, shops selling healthcare, household, religious products and fashion products, as well as night clubs, Yangtze cinema opened in 1977 and even horse racing clubs which opened in 1998. I remember the previous travel agency before Nam Ho Travel occupied the premise of what previous travel agency - Jun-Air travel where one of my cousins worked in the year 1980s.
Yangtzw Cinema facade
It was learned that Pearls Centre Commercial Association and Pearls Centre Zhong Yuan Club looked after the general welfare and its interest of the centre’s commercial owners and tenants and Zhong Yuan Club (中元会) has been organising annual donation drives during the Mid-Autumn Festival every year.
Owners at Pearls Centre along Eu Tong Sen Street in Chinatown have been issued S$444 million in compensation and promised further relocation assistance, according to media reports. Previously, the market value of the strata-titled property to range between S$450 million and S$600 million.
So the government’s acquisition of Pearls Centre around the middle of last year had surprised its 234 tenants who were given two years to vacate the premises till 2015

Lift to level 4 Yangtze Theatre

Yangtze Cinema & Cafes
Yangtze Signage
Yangtze Theatre (长江戏院), as the last cinema in Singapore to screen R-rated and soft porn movies. Originally named as the Pearls Theatre, it was later changed to Yangtze, named after the longest river in China and Asia. In its early days, the 1,159-capacity cinema occupied six storeys inside Pearl’s Centre, with a gross floor area of 8,010 square metres.
Photo2012: Entrance to Yangtze
In the year 2000s, Pearls Centre suffered from an bad reputation due to Yangtze Cinema’s screening of erotic films and Yangtze has been unfairly victimized by the press, the condition of massage parlours which was reported to provide sex related services and also the reports of police crackdown on vice activities. Yangtze’s rent in the Pearls Centre was around $30,000 a month.
Photo2013: Yangtze entertainment
Game arcade@Leisure City Funworld
Many patrons came to play billboards and fun games machines after watched the show.
Yangtze Wine Corner
Yangtze Karaoke KTV corner where patrons purchase wine and cocktails drinks during Karaoke KTV, opens nightly.
Photo2012: Guitars hung on wall
These instruments inclusive of Guitars hung on wall next to the Stage, especially for musician bands group performed nightly.
Photo2012: Yangtze KTV & the Stage
Lounge entertainment and its cushion sofas,  the Stage (on the right) where the beautiful stage girls sang nightly. Some customers or patrons gave some sashes to one of the stage girls. The sashes would range from S$100 to S$100,000 was told by an insider who worked at the counter.
Wines and Glasses on display shelves
Some patrons mostly men went for beer drinking sessions and listening to Karaoke sung by stage girls. The tinted glass shelves are housed full of wine and beer bottles, glasses on display.
Escalator to Yangtze 1 & 2
Walkway to Yangtze 2
Walkway to Yangtze 1
Digital screen seating at Yangtze 2
Yangtze Theatre was renovated and reopened in September 1991 as Yangtze 1 and Yangtze 2. Local artistes and Hong Kong stars such as Michelle Yim were invited for the grand opening. Later that year, Yangtze cinema faced declining revenues due to the slowdown in the local movie industry in the 1990s. In 1995, it was changed to a new one, this time as an erotic films.
F&B Corner
2012 Closeup: Cai Sheng Ye clock
The F&B corner is located next to the entrance where I sat in front of the counter and ordered some snacks and drink from the counter. Notice a Cai Sheng Ye clock hung on the wall of F&B Corner for their prosperity and good business. That's cute.
Photo2012: Box Office
Beside the F&B corner is the Ticketing counter - BOX OFFICE that patrons mostly old men and elderly couples purchase the ticket for the shows in dimly light ambience. "Yangtze" cinema, such a thoroughbred name.
Yangtze Cinema (top) & F&B corner (bottom right)
Photo taken in 2012
Yangtze Cinema is built in 1977 and the patronizing are the older men and even older couples to watch exotic films, just like RA movies/shows. In the past, there were lots of RA shows were filmed at Eng Wah cinema. Majestic, Empress and Orchard cinema too. I remember the incident way back at that time, the enforcement of the 'below 21 no R(A) show' ruling has slackened a lot. In the past, I remember only Yangtze cinema didn't check and the ticket staff was an old lady didn't seem to bother. Orchard Cineleisure (formerly Orchard Cinema)  is still the strictest.
Yangtze Ticket
A "Yangtze" ticket is somewhat different from GV cinemas and Shaw organisations. A ticket is very much like I used to print when I worked in Office in the early 1980s using Epson MX-80 dot matrix printer for technical worksheet with punch holes in the corner end.
 A lone man@Cinema Hall
What will happen to the Yangtze cinema hall that will demolish soon? A old style cinematic feeling where a lone man sits under a dim light. Such a feeling would make them sadness and empty space when the cinema is gone. Where were those old men, old man with umbrella and elderly couples gone to after the Yangtze cinema closed?
Damaged staircase leading to Apartment & Carpark
Photo taken in 2012
The Pearls centre’s reputation was further damaged by reports of escalators, staircases and air-condition failures, floods in the basement.
The sections of the car park in the building above the seventh storey had been closed previously and no cars were allowed in. It is understood that the closed sections are not
illuminated and are usually in pitch darkness at night.
The building houses several night clubs and bars, there are frequently people who loiter and drink in the abandoned sections of the car park.The 23-storey Pearls Centre houses the Yangtze Cinema, residential units, offices and shops. It will be making way for the new Thomson MRT line later that year. In 2012, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) was announced their plans to acquire Pearls Centre for the upcoming construction of underground tunnels for the Thomson Line (TSL), and tenants and residents given two years to vacate their respective premises by August 2014 and the deadline was subsequently extended to 2015 as told by shop owners when I revisited again.
Corner of Pearls Centre

Backdrop of Pearls Centre
At the corner of the building, there is a lunch area called "K1011 Eating House" for the office workers, shop owners and even local residents to patronise the eating house which is located at the corner end of the building backyard. Before I have a meeting with some friends at People Park Complex nearby.
Photo2012: K1011 Eating House
Staircase leading to the stalls
Row of Stalls 
 Mixed Vegetable rice stall (left)
Hot & Cold Beverage Stall
My cup of coffee costs 90cents
I dropped by to have my lunch there where I loved to take my lunch at mixed vegetable stall, Zhen Zhen Hainanese chicken rice stall and Mushroom noodle stall.
Zhen Zhen Hainanese Chicken & Mushroom Noodle Stall
Latest Update: Zhen Zhen Hainanese Chicken stall (Established since 1997) relocates at Pearl's Hill 34 Coffeeshop, Blk 34 Upper Cross Street #01-170 S(050034) will open for business starting in 2nd November 2015 (Monday). The coffee-shop is near to Sheng Siong Supermarket.
Snacks stall
One of the stall, an uncle who works at the stall told me that the stall belonged to his boss, These foods are delicious and yummy especially I love "Coffee Buns" and "Egg Tarts" while others - Red Bean buns, sweet potato buns, etc are tasted better and crispy.
Office workers' lunch area
Office workers were having their lunch outside at the corner end where the erotic film posters on the left were hung on the backdrop mainly from Yangtze cinema and KTV entertainment.
 Pearls Centre Office
Pearls Centre Directory
Pearls Centre Office lift
Beside the K1011 Eating House, there is an office building which visitors and office workers return to office after lunch or tea break time. The Pearls Centre and its office management are located at 7th floor.
Lift to the shops
Photo 2012: Rows of shops
Some of the shop owners have moved out in 2012 or later, some shops are still in operation while they are still looking for a space at other locations before their lease expired in 2015 and some paid for a few months to operate their business till in August 2015.
Escalators Podium & Sing Thai Amulet shop
Photo taken in 2012
An old style of two escalators rarely seen in separate, large gap each other at old shopping centre as well as old buildings, easily seen on below where the shops located. This will led to accident if not careful especially senior citizens and young children. I recall there was an accident involved four people, three of them were senior citizens on the escalator in August 2012 which left two people injured and one of them an old lady sustained injuries to her back while another injured his ankle. The escalator was going up when it suddenly moved in the opposite direction.The change in direction caused those on the escalator to fall backwards.
Photo2012 closeup: Sing Thai Amulet Gallery
One of the shops - Sing Thai Amulet Gallery still in operation till 2015 as many elderly customers came for an amulet or purchase an amulet or other religious products.
Photo2012: Open view from escalator
Signboard: Singapore Turf Club
Photo2012: Staircase leading to SGTurf Club
The signboard indicated the direction to where the Singapore Turf Club is, the staircase leading to the door of the Singapore Turf Club which opens in 1998 where patrons place a bet on horse race coupon by looking on the screen and bring it to the cashier counter and paid for a bet ticket.
AA Winners' Club
The official opening of the AA Winners' Club owned by Automoblie Association of Singapore at Pearls Centre, held on 9th December 2011. The AA's newest entertainment and lifestyle centre features a member's lounge, AA Shop and entertainment facility. But their business is short-lived till Wednesday 25 June 2014. The Automobile Association (AA) of Singapore’s highly-anticipated new outlet -> AA @ 51 AMK opens its doors, replacing the outlet at Pearls Centre which will cease in operation soon.
Another building - Pearls Bank Apartments (centre)
Last but not least, another setback, thwart building - iconic Pearl Bank Apartment was completed in 1976, the 38-storey Pearl Bank Apartments became the city's first high-rise apartment and tallest building. It also had the largest number of units "272" and it contained in a single block.
A 77-year-old Tan Cheng Siong, an architect also built Pandan Valley Condominium. He was named "Designer of the Year" at the President's Design Award 2012. he was the first architect to build condominiums in China.
Their three attempts have been made to put up Pearl Bank Apartments for en-bloc on sale by the owners of Pearls Bank Apartments and they failed, so I hope this time the building's management committee is taking another tact to apply for conservation status instead. Read the latest news here.

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