Former Chinese sausage factory at Everton Road turned beautiful conservation home

/ EdgeProp Singapore |
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Sitting at the corner of Everton Road is a conservation shophouse that has had many lives. Built in the post-World War II era in the late 1940s, it was designed as a majestic house for a wealthy Cantonese family, the Liews. (See more about Everton Road Singapore)
The property, which has two storeys and an attic, was then sold to a business partnership in the mid-1950s. It was initially used as a warehouse for premium Chinese foodstuffs. However, for the next 30 years, it operated as the KwangChow Sausage Factory, a pioneer in Chinese sausage manufacturing in Singapore.
The factory, which was established in 1959, closed its doors in the late 1980s. URA gazetted the shophouses at Everton Road, Blair Road and Spottiswoode Park Road for conservation in October 1991. The largely quiet and residential enclave became collectively known as the Blair Plain conservation area.
For much of the 1990s, the conserved corner shophouse at 9 Everton Road was leased to a Chinese family who opened their home to students from China. Subsequently, it was leased to a photographer and his wife, who used the property as a home and photography studio.
Artist’s impression of the facade - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Artist’s impression of the facade, if the shophouse were estored to its former glory, according to the architectural details and guidelines given by URA (Photo: Kim Design Consultants)

Expatriate home

In 2014, when the shophouse was put on the market for lease, a British lawyer and his partner chanced upon it. The pair were living in a condo before, and were charmed by the prospect of living in a conservation terraced house. They immediately put in an offer. They were even willing to invest in extensive renovation works to convert the interiors into a contemporary residence where they could live, work and entertain friends. And it is still their home after seven years. (See: Discover insightful data of any Singapore condominium with our condo directory)
Except for the early years when the property had belonged to the Liew family, it has been in the hands of the Loh family for more than 60 years. It is now owned by family members of the second generation. “As much as we are reluctant to part with it, we feel it’s time to sell to effect a distribution of wealth among the family members,” says the son of the patriarch, who is also an entrepreneur and only wants to be known as Mr Loh.
He believes that the freehold property at Everton Road can be restored to its former glory. He commissioned a contractor to give an estimate on the cost of reinstating the original architectural features. It is estimated to be about $160,000. He also engaged an artist to create a rendering of the façade of the shophouse based on URA guidelines and architectural details provided, to allow potential buyers to visualise what the property could look like when fully restored.
According to URA, some of the shophouses along Everton Road were designed in the Art Deco and Modern styles. The Chinese influence is visible in the courtyard plan of the interiors, the rounded gables at the ends of a pitched roof, the batwing-shaped air vents above the first-storey windows and the friezes of coloured ceramics featuring dragon, phoenix and flower motifs. Many of these ornately decorated new homes were built in the early 20th century and catered for the wealthy Chinese merchant families who desired to move away from “the overcrowded, unsanitary and disreputable urban areas east of Cantonment Road”, according to URA in its narrative about the history of Blair Plain. The Everton Road-Spottiswoode Park Road and Blair Road area became an affluent neighbourhood for for these Straits Chinese (Peranakan) families.
first level of the shophouse - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The living and dining area on the first level of the shophouse at Everton Road (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

‘Top of the class’ fengshui

Given its location at a road corner, the shophouse at 9 Everton Road has many unique attributes. It comes with a long veranda on the second level, which can be turned into an outdoor seating area. The property sits on a freehold site of 2,023 sq ft and has a built-up area of 4,000 sq ft across three levels. It’s larger than the neighbouring intermediate units.
While it is located at a road corner, it does not have the usual negative attributes associated with properties situated at busy road junctions, says Loh. This is because it sits on elevated ground, raised about 3–4 ft (0.9–1.2m) above street level, and it is on a relatively quiet street, he adds.
The shophouse has high ceilings, many windows and doors, and therefore enjoys good cross-ventilation and natural light. Due to its corner location, it is also cooler and drier inside the shophouse compared to the surrounding shophouses, Loh relates. As such, Loh’s father and business partners felt that it was ideal as a warehouse, especially for the more expensive Chinese foodstuffs, such as dried abalone, sea cucumber, oysters and hasma, Loh adds.
At that time, Loh’s father and business partners were among the biggest importers of Chinese products and foodstuffs, as well as among the biggest wholesalers in Singapore, supplying goods to most of the sundry shops around the island. They were also exporting these Chinese goods to neighbouring countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia that had very little trade with China then.
The import-export-wholesale business was headquartered in a five-storey shophouse on Hong Kong Street. As the business flourished, however, they needed bigger premises, especially more storage space for their goods. Hence, it was felt that the shophouse at Everton Park could serve the purpose. To confirm their views on the merits of the property, Loh’s father consulted a highly regarded fengshui master then, Master Leong Tian Zhi (translated as “ruler for measuring the sky”). “The fengshui master told him without uncertainty that the fengshui of the house was excellent — top of the class, in fact,” relates Loh.
corner shophouse at 9 Everton Road - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The corner shophouse at 9 Everton Road sits on a land area of 2,023 sq ft with a built-up area of about 4,000 sq ft (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

The makings of a factory

His father and the business partners went ahead with their purchase, negotiating directly with the seller in the mid-1950s. A few years later, Loh’s father was approached by the Industrial Promotion Board (a statutory board and precursor of the Economic Development Board) to be part of Singapore’s industrialisation effort.
Back then, Chinese sausage and other waxed meats were highly sought after every Chinese New Year. While there were small-scale, homegrown manufacturers in Singapore then, most people preferred to buy imports from China and Hong Kong, which were more expensive but deemed to be superior. “These food items, especially pork, were very tightly controlled, even during the British colonial era, which had high standards of hygiene,” recounts Loh.
The Industrial Promotion Board suggested that Loh’s father could open a large-scale, mechanised factory for the production of Chinese sausages in Singapore. The challenge was space: In Chinatown, it was too congested and there wasn’t a shophouse big enough to be converted into a factory. “There weren’t any proper or purpose-built industrial or warehouse spaces at that time,” says Loh.
Fortunately, Loh’s father had already purchased the shophouse at Everton Road and was using it as a warehouse. It then occurred to him to convert the shophouse into a factory, as the space was large enough.
The shophouse when it was a Chinese sausage factory - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The shophouse when it was a Chinese sausage factory from 1959 to the late 1980s (Photo: Loh family archive)

Key ingredient in Chinese sausages

Another obstacle was the cost of production. One of the reasons why the locally manufactured Chinese sausage was inferior in taste compared to those from Hong Kong and China was the lack of a key ingredient: Chinese wine, relates Loh. “The wine enhances the flavour and the aroma as well as acts as a preservative; it gives the meat a nice texture,” he adds.
As Chinese wine had to be imported under the category of alcohol and liquors, it was subjected to a high duty by the Customs department in Singapore. If the duty on the imported Chinese wine was taken into consideration, manufacturing Chinese sausages was not a viable business according to Loh’s father’s calculations, he relates.
The officer at the Industrial Promotion Board then suggested that the alcohol duty be waived. However, the Customs department needed assurance that the Chinese wine would be used only for the manufacture of Chinese sausage and not resold for consumption.
Loh’s father proposed a solution: He would add salt to the Chinese wine that he imported. The salted wine would enhance the flavour of the Chinese sausages but would not be ideal for drinking, and hence unlikely to be resold. That solution pleased both the Industrial Promotion Board and Customs officers. “And Chinese sausage manufacturing turned out to be a very lucrative business for many years,” says Loh.
second level of the Everton Road shophouse - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Part of the study on the second level of the Everton Road shophouse (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
During the festive period, people used to turn up at the Everton Road shophouse to purchase Chinese sausages directly from the factory. “It was quite a scene, with people crowding around outside, waiting their turn to buy Chinese sausages,” recalls Loh.
After Loh’s father passed away, his business partners continued with the Chinese sausage manufacturing business until the late 1980s. That was when URA wanted them to relocate the manufacturing facility to Woodlands. However, the business partners decided to dissolve the company instead and KwangChow Sausage Factory was shuttered after operating for 30 years.
The property at Everton Road therefore passed from the hands of the partnership to the Loh family. For the past 30 years, it has been a conservation terraced house for residential use.
Spottiswoode Park Road and Blair Road area - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
In the early 2o0th century, the Everton Road, Spottiswoode Park Road and Blair Road area became an affluent neighbourhood for for these Straits Chinese (Peranakan) families (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

The neighbourhood

Last September, Loh had put the property up for sale by expressions of interest (EOI) conducted by Cushman & Wakefield. The guide price then was $7.5 million or $1,875 psf based on built-up area.
However, the timing was not ideal as it was in the middle of the pandemic, and subsequently the family decided to withdraw the property from the market, says Loh.
In the neighbourhood, the latest transaction was the intermediate shophouse next door at 8 Everton Road which changed hands for $3.8 million in August last year. That shophouse sits on a freehold land area of 1,668 sq ft and gross floor area estimated to be 3,100 sq ft.
Along Neil Road, two other adjoining shophouses were sold in November and December respectively: the shophouse at 151 Neil Road, sitting on a 3,457 sq ft, freehold site, fetched $7.4 million, while the one at 149 Neil Road, which has a smaller footprint of 3,353 sq ft, changed hands for $7 million. The latter was renovated by Ong & Ong architectural firm in 2013, and has a built-up area of 5,597 sq ft. The price therefore translates to $1,250 psf based on its built-up area. Both freehold shophouses are zoned for residential use, and therefore open to Singapore citizens only.
The den on the second floor of 9 Everton Park - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The den on the second floor of 9 Everton Park (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Another pair of adjoining shophouses at 73 and 75 Neil Road was put up for sale by EOI conducted by CBRE on May 6, just a week before Singapore went into Phase Two (Heightened Alert). The three-storey conservation shophouses sit on a combined land area of 4,439 sq ft and gross floor area of 11,128 sq ft. They have a front courtyard of 825 sq ft. As they are zoned for commercial use, foreigners are eligible to purchase. The shophouses are currently fully leased to office tenants and are on the market at a guide price of $30 million, or $2,510 psf based on total floor area. The EOI exercise closed on June 10.
Now that the country has emerged from the Phase Two (Heightened Alert), the Loh family is once again contemplating the sale of the property at Everton Road. Loh believes the property could enjoy a new lease of life with its next owner. “It’s ideal for use as a single family residence or or as a co-living space with multiple private bedrooms and shared communal areas and facilities,” he adds.
Check out the latest listings near Everton Road, Blair Plain conservation area, Neil Road

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