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Businesses not staying on at Bottle Tree Park

SINGAPORE — Bottle Tree Park in Yishun is set to close next month and most businesses there say they will also be closing as they were unable to come to an agreement on rent with the new operator.

Children wading in the pond at Yishun's Bottle Tree Park to catch guppies. File photo: Ooi Boon Keong

Children wading in the pond at Yishun's Bottle Tree Park to catch guppies. File photo: Ooi Boon Keong

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SINGAPORE — Bottle Tree Park in Yishun is set to close next month and most businesses there say they will also be closing as they were unable to come to an agreement on rent with the new operator.

The businesses will have to vacate by Aug 17. It is understood that only the fishing pond business will stay on.

The new operator — Chinese company Fullshare Group — had put in a bid of S$169,000 a month for the 7ha piece of land. It was more than double the S$68,000 the current operator had bid for the site.

It is understood there are plans to redevelop the rustic enclave — which has developed a loyal following since it opened 10 years ago — into a recreation centre, which is estimated to be ready from the end of this year.

Mr Kang Weng Sang, who manages the prawn pond at the park, said of the rents offered by the new operator: “S$30,000 — it’s not a fixed rate. You have to pay an extra 10 per cent. For example, if 50 people make a booking for prawning for an hour, (we would) have to pay the operator an extra 10 per cent. This model isn’t very reasonable.”

Currently, his boss is paying a percentage of their monthly gross turnover to Bottle Tree Park, averaging around S$10,000 to S$12,000 a month.

Lamented Mr Neo Kee Huat, owner of Bottle Tree Seafood Restaurant, in Mandarin: “After painstakingly building up the place with its kampung feel, it’s all over. Those who are older say this is their second village because you can’t find places like this in Singapore any more.”

Members of the public hope the place will retain its rustic feel.

Said Bottle Tree Park patron Timothy Ng: “I just like the atmosphere. It’s very different. Maybe the people are more friendly as well and they help you.”

Added another patron, Mr Albert Seah: “If the change is for the better, it’ll be good. But of course, cost is also a concern. If it maintains a reasonable fee, we’ll come more often.”

Located just opposite Yishun Stadium, Bottle Tree Park was an empty plot of land with old, unused ponds before its current operator transformed it into a much-loved park containing, among other things, bottle trees with interesting shapes, ponds for fishing, a seafood restaurant and paintball facilities.

It had been due to close in 2012, but the authorities extended its lease upon request. KHOO FANG XUAN

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