24 May 2017
Residents of one of Singapore’s earliest townships, Nee Soon, will soon see the completion of the largest integrated development in the North, Northpoint City, which will feature over 1.33 million square feet of residential, retail and transportation facilities.
Before the big reveal of Northpoint City slated for the end of the year, let us take the opportunity to delve into Nee Soon’s past, and explore the stories about Singapore’s first suburban retail mall, Northpoint Shopping Centre.
In this “Then and Now” article, we uncover what Yishun was, what Yishun presently is, and what it will soon become.
Home to the Pineapple King
A giant pineapple sculpture, created as part of a new art trail in Yishun, launched on 31 July 2016, which commemorates Yishun’s history with the Pineapple King, Nee Soon.
Pineapples and Yishun may seem entirely unrelated, but they share a relation that makes for an interesting anecdote as part of Singapore’s rich history.
“Pineapple King” Lim Nee Soon (centre, standing) stands in front of a motor truck from his rubber factory, fully loaded with pineapples. Lim Chong Hsien Collection, courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.
Yishun’s current name can in fact be credited to “Pineapple King” Lim Nee Soon (Source), a prominent entrepreneur who pioneered the local rubber plantation industry and a major player in the pineapples market in the mid-1800s in Singapore (Source).
Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.
Lim was a respected community leader and heavily involved in public affairs during his days. He served on the Singapore Rural Board from 1913 to 1921 and founded The Chinese High School with Tan Kah Kee in 1919. Lim also was President of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce for two terms.
Lim’s commitment to public affairs and philanthropy earned him the title of Justice of Peace in 1925. The Pineapple King was known to be generous in nature, always giving back to society in multiple ways. He once presented a few thousand pineapples to the British Army and Navy during World War I. (Source)
A statue of Lim Nee Soon can be found in Yishun Town Park.
Rubber and pineapple plantations owned by Lim covered a large part of Nee Soon. Labourers who worked in the plantations settled down in the area and eventually formed a village settlement, known as Nee Soon Village.
The land was subsequently named after Lim in the 1950s, but it was changed to “Yishun” during the nationwide campaign to replace dialect names with Mandarin versions.
As with most parts of old Singapore, the town was characteristically peppered with farmland and villages. In 1977, the government initiated urbanisation works on the town after resettling the villages and the area became known as Yishun New Town thereafter.
Singapore’s first suburban mall, Northpoint Shopping Centre, turns 25 this year.
Yishun’s landmark change came in 1992, when Northpoint Shopping Centre was built.
This was a milestone for Yishun, as Northpoint Shopping Centre heralded a new era in Yishun’s history. This was Singapore’s first modern sub-urban mall in a major housing estate, and was a refreshing destination for residents living in the island’s north.
Customers from near and far flocked to Northpoint to purchase household items or fashion indulgences, and spent their leisurely hours at the mall (Source).
While Northpoint Shopping Centre added an urban edge to Yishun, the vibrant suburb of Yishun continued to retain its rustic and neighbourly charm.
Rejuvenating the northern heartlands once more
Today, Northpoint Shopping Centre is undergoing refurbishment for its next chapter. When completed in the third quarter of 2017, the mall will become The Mall at Northpoint City, and will continue to serve families, friends and residents of Yishun with its enhanced lifestyle and retail amenities.
The Mall will also be home to Singapore’s first community centre nestled in a shopping mall, as well as a host of other community-centric facilities and activities.
Artist’s impression of the soon to be revamped Northpoint Shopping Centre linkway.
Residents can look forward to an exciting food alley, thematic shopping zones, and a new shopping underpass connecting The Mall seamlessly to an integrated air-conditioned transport hub. With a rooftop community garden and a town plaza, the size of 10 basketball courts, Northpoint City will be a key community gathering place.
Artists’ impression: The communal Central Courtyard will connect the North and South Wings of The Mall at Basement One.
Artist’s impression: The new Northpoint City will be a key community gathering place to shop, dine and spend time with family and friends.
Nee Soon’s facelift in the 1970s transformed the town, and in the 1990s, made history with the landmark construction of Northpoint Shopping Centre.
Once more, the Nee Soon area of the community-oriented Northpoint City will be enlivened, with the integrated hub’s over 400 retail and dining outlets, the 920-unit North Park Residences, and over 131,320 square feet of community-centric spaces, including Singapore’s first community club housed in a mall, the Nee Soon Central Community Club.
In the 1900s, the successful Lim Nee Soon possessed great wealth and influence but community empowerment and support were always priority to the philanthropic business magnate.
With the upcoming Northpoint City that will serve as a mega-hub for residents’ community-bonding and leisure activities, Nee Soon, or Yishun, has come full circle, honouring the legendary Pineapple King’s community-building interests.
*All designs portrayed in artist impressions are subject to change.
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