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Revitalising Singapore's Central City through Gentrification: The Role of Waterfront Housing

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Global cities in the post-Fordist and digital era require the support of specialised services and functions as global city competition accelerates and intensifies. Young and professional gentrifiers are key providers of such services highly concentrated in financial districts. Since the 1980s, gentrification has also aimed to enhance liveability and accessibility to a better quality of life with landscaping and greenery provisions. Since the 1960s, the Central Area of Singapore has eliminated its dualistic character and slums, and has transformed itself into a modern business district skyline. However, the early emphasis had neglected a ‘balanced' commercial cum residential setting, leading to a largely deserted downtown after office hours. The post-1990 policy to regenerate the downtown core of Singapore is embryonic but has strong governmental support. The success or failure in making Singapore a leading position in the global city competition will much rely on the outcome of gentrification, including the integrated resort programme in the new Central Business District—the waterfront Marina South. The article analyses gentrification efforts undertaken by key world cities and their limited success. From a theoretical perspective and international practical experience, the future of Singapore's revitalisation programme is intricately investigated. Determinant variables are multiple, inter alia, ‘centrality' values in attracting talent in different areas of expertise, international capital in high-value operations, recreational and cultural input, quality housing and state-of-the-art entrepreneurship in global linkages.

Keywords: Gentrification; central business district; global city; specialised services; waterfront housing

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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