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Carolyn Khew
Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014

Singapore

Bottle Tree Park reaches end of road

My Paper | Carolyn Khew | Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014

SINGAPORE - Last-ditch efforts to save Bottle Tree Park in Yishun have come to nought, as the attraction will close by the end of next month.

The park, which first opened 10 years ago, will finally close its doors after its operator moves out of the leafy surrounds, despite recently putting in a bid to re-develop the area, whose lease expires on Aug 18.

Although the tender is expected to be awarded on Aug 4, Bottle Tree managing director Alex Neo said he "more or less" already knows how it is going to turn out.

According to the Singapore Land Authority website, Mr Neo's firm submitted a bid worth $68,000, well below the top bid of $169,000, which was submitted by Fullshare Group.

Mr Neo said that he did not put in a higher bid because he did not want the rustic enclave to become commercialised.

"If we bid anything more than this price, we would have to think of how to recoup the money... When we first started, we wanted this place to be affordable," added the 54-year-old.

Located just opposite Yishun Stadium, the 7ha park is renowned for its kampung-like atmosphere.

Apart from its interestingly shaped bottle trees, the place has ponds for fishing, a seafood restaurant and paintball facilities, among others.

Mr Neo said it took $4 million to turn what used to be an empty plot of land with old, unused ponds into the much-loved park.

"A lot of hard work and time were put into transforming this place from a bare land into a place that people like," said Mr Neo, who built the place with four other partners.

"Of course, I feel sad that whatever we have developed will now have to be passed onto the next tenant."

The fate of the park has been hanging in the balance over the past year, as Mr Neo's lease was not renewed.

A bottle tree was moved to Satay by the Bay in early April.

In 2012, he also had to shut down his other business in Sembawang, dubbed Bottle Tree Village, when its lease expired.

There are no plans in the pipeline for the park but Mr Neo said that the management is looking for a suitable site.

HR management trainee Toh Ming Xuan, who paid a visit to Bottle Tree Park just last week, said it is a pity that the place will have to go.

"My passion for fishing was started from my maiden trip to the park," said the 25-year-old. "I think the overall atmosphere of the park makes Bottle Tree unique and different from the other pay ponds in Singapore."


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