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Marine Cove reopens next week after S$18m upgrade

SINGAPORE — After shuttering for four years, Marine Cove at East Coast Park will reopen next week with improved amenities, including a large children’s playground — the first in the whole park — and better bathrooms and parking facilities, as part of ongoing efforts to spruce up Singapore’s most popular park.

Marine Cove reopens next week after S$18m upgrade

After shuttering for four years, Marine Cove at East Coast Park will reopen next week with improved amenities, including a large children’s playground. Photo: Robin Choo/TODAY

SINGAPORE — After shuttering for four years, Marine Cove at East Coast Park will reopen next week with improved amenities, including a large children’s playground — the first in the whole park — and better bathrooms and parking facilities, as part of ongoing efforts to spruce up Singapore’s most popular park.

The S$18-million development also features five dining outlets, among them McDonald’s, which had occupied a spot there for about 30 years (since 1982) before closing in 2012 for redevelopment works. The other tenants are Babalicious, Hill Street Coffee Shop, My Briyani House and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. The outlets will open progressively from Tuesday next week.

Speaking at a media preview of Marine Cove on Friday (June 24), National Parks Board (NParks) director of development management Ng Yuin-Mae said Marine Cove was designed to be more family-friendly, for multigenerational families comprising individuals of different ages and abilities to congregate and enjoy the beachfront.

For example, the 3,500sqm playground, which opens on Wednesday, was designed to suit children of all abilities. A three-storey play tower at the centre will have three slides of different levels and a rope bridge. Inclusive play features include a swing set that stimulates a child’s sense of balance, sensory play panels and a quiet corner.

The public toilet in the area will also have amenities for young children, such as lower toilet seats.

Connectivity has also been improved, with more parking spaces — 430 spots, from about 300 previously — and footpaths that can accommodate wheelchairs and baby prams. A covered linkway connects the dining outlets to the nearby underpass to Marine Terrace.

East Coast Park, which sees more than 7.5 million visitors a year, is set to see other enhancements over the next few years to meet the needs of visitors, such as more open spaces with vistas of the sea, upgraded amenities and improved accessibility and connectivity.

On why it took four years to bring plans for Marine Cove to fruition, NParks’ Ms Ng said an impact study took longer than expected, because it was “more complex than we would have wanted it to be”, she said.

The agency took a “very cautious” approach to ensure that the development was sensitive to both retaining the space for recreation and addressing the congestion that was to be expected from the development.

Marine Cove’s fresh start comes as other developments in East Coast Park are finding their footing. At nearby Parkland Green, which opened in September 2014, business was sluggish after parking charges were imposed, according to a TODAY report in February.

Meanwhile, Raintree Cove is bidding goodbye to establishments such as Long Beach Main Seafood Restaurant when the site closes in February next year for development.

Ms Ng said that NParks would be studying ways to improve “wayfinding” within the park, so visitors get around easily. This could be in the forms of signs, street imprints or park furniture to guide visitors to amenities such as underpasses and toilets.

Analysts TODAY spoke to were cautious on the viability of food and beverage (F&B) outlets at Marine Cove, which would have to compete with other developments in East Coast Park.

Mr Colin Tan, director of research and consultancy at Suntec Real Estate Consultants, said a challenge for F&B businesses was that the park mainly sees crowds on weekday mornings and evenings, and weekends. “(The area) is quite sleepy and comes alive only on weekends,” he added.

Orange Tee senior manager of research and consultancy Xian Yang Wong said accessibility “remains as one of the largest limitations to developments in these areas”, as visitors have to drive or take a bus. But this could change when the Thomson-East Coast MRT Line is completed, he added.

 

Mr Ku Swee Yong, chief executive of Century 21 Singapore, said Marine Cove might struggle to differentiate itself from other F&B clusters in the park, such as Playground@Big Splash and the East Coast Lagoon Food Village. “Parkland Green is a clear example that not every F&B (concept) will work,” he said. He suggested additional activities to help Marine Cove stand out, such as educational programmes at the children’s playground.

Babalicious accounts manager Angelina Tan said the restaurant, which will serve Peranakan cuisine and Hainanese chicken rice, was drawn to Marine Cove as it was a place of fond memories for many Singaporeans, including its owner Kevin Seah, who grew up in the east.

“Hopefully the playground will draw families,” she added.

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