It was completed in 1977, and many shoppers and tenants feel that Orchard Road mall Lucky Plaza has remained in a time warp since then.
This became more noticeable after the shopping strip was given a $40 million makeover by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and new swanky malls Ion and Orchard Central sprouted.
Reader Yip Yoon Kiew, who wrote to The Straits Times' Forum page, said the mall 'sticks out like an embarrassing throwback to the 70s'.
Many shoppers, tenants and owners interviewed concurred.
'This is Orchard Road's most popular stretch and, in comparison with other malls, it definitely looks old,' said shopper Venicia Tay, 26.
Lucky Plaza lies opposite Ion and other high-end malls like Wisma Atria and Ngee Ann City.
Said Ms Diocel Rozel, 38, a veterinary nurse from the Philippines: 'The facilities inside work but the place looks old...With a facelift, we would be even more happy to hang out here and it would be a plus.'
Not that Lucky Plaza has completely avoided sprucing itself up.
It completed a $3.3 million interior upgrading in August 2005. But approval for a $4.5 million pop-out facade is still pending.
The tenants do not want to be in the shadow of rivals.
The owner of jewellery and handbag shop Elegance Reptile House, who wanted to be known only as Madam Lee, 60, said: 'It would be good for Lucky Plaza to have an upgrade to attract more good-class customers.'
Noted the owner of jewellery store Carlson Collection, Mr Yin Eng Haw, 50: 'We've needed an upgrade for a long time. It's a pity because so much can be done to make the building nicer.'
Mr Abdul Munaff Syed Mubarak, 35, manager of Dollars and Scent Duty Free Perfumes, has grouses. 'The numbers of the units are not in sequence, so it's hard to find shops and there are no signs to point out things like ATMs,' he said.
'Water even drips from the walkway at the front of the building on rainy days. An upgrade could fix this.'
Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) chairman Sng Ngoi May often gets inquiries about the lack of any revamp in Lucky Plaza.
'Orba has no say over what happens within a mall,' she said.
An Urban Redevelopment Authority spokesman said it has guidelines and incentives to encourage owners to upgrade and rejuvenate their properties.
'Ultimately, the upgrading of any development is a private commercial decision between the building owners,' she said.
The STB and Orba have discussed the issue with Lucky Plaza's management committee on various occasions.
Said an STB spokesman: 'We understand that for strata-titled properties like Lucky Plaza, it is usually challenging for the management committee to reach a consensus with their many tenants.'
A spokesman for Lucky Plaza's management corporation said that as the mall is strata-titled and has many owners, general approval has to be sought for major upgrading work.
He added: 'Due to high construction costs during the last property boom, the general body decided to hold back the upgrading and retiling works.'
But it has decided to proceed with the approved retiling work this year as costs have come down amid the financial crisis, he said.
He added that the management corporation is looking into other areas such as repainting and improved lighting.
Source: Sunday Times, 19 July 2009