Dec 11, 2015

    Funan through the years

    CAPITALAND Mall Trust Management Limited said yesterday morning that it will be redeveloping Funan DigitaLife Mall into an "experiential creative hub".

    Here are some facts you might not know about Funan.

    It began life as Funan Centre in 1985

    As a general shopping centre for the masses, it was later converted into a "computer mart" by developer Pidemco Land as part of a corporate plan to develop and promote its commercial properties as specific theme centres.

    It sits on the site of a hawker area

    Before the geeks took over, the land on which the mall sits on - Hock Lam Street in the Civic District - was an area where hawkers used to sell food and fruit. This was the birthplace of the famous Hock Lam Beef Noodles.

    In fact, when Funan Centre was erected, Hock Lam Beef Noodles became one of its first tenants, before moving to the Singapore Swimming Club, Purvis Street and Far East Square.

    It witnessed several foodie milestones

    While it is not something you might associate with an electronics and IT mall, Funan is where halal eatery Qiji, known for its popiah and local dishes, first had its humble beginnings before becoming a big chain with its own website, central kitchen, catering arm and corporate office.

    It was also home to Singapore's very first air-conditioned foodcourt. This foodcourt also became the new home of Funan Weng, the purveyor of the famous Ipoh hor fun and wonton noodles since 1955, when it had to move out of its original home at Hock Lam Street.

    Challenger and Funan go way back

    Challenger Technologies, the IT superstore, has been so successful over the years that it is now listed on the Singapore Exchange mainboard.

    But it began life in Funan Centre with just one store. Today, it has a total of 47 outlets. And it has remained Funan's anchor tenant the whole way.

    It was also a haven for music geeks

    Back in the day, Funan was not just a mecca for tech geeks. Among its earliest tenants were Roxy Records and Dada Records, where music aficionados went to get the latest records, cassettes and CDs.

    These shops also made Funan the place to go to for made-in-Singapore music. They supported home-grown musicians by selling not just commercial local releases but also demo cassette tapes, no matter how poor the quality.

    During its heyday in the early 2000s, popular local music chain Sembawang Music Centre also had a store in Funan.