Constructed in 1996, Hougang Plaza has been a strange but synonymous landmark in the heart of Hougang altogether. Built to help ease the burden on the popular Hougang Oriental Emporium situated in the Lorong Ah Soo neighbourhood (the current Heartland Mall in Kovan), it was the first shopping & entertainment complex built in the Hougang/Cheng San Constituency.
When it first started, the main attraction of the complex was the Visions Lanes Bowling Alley and Shaw Cineplex that provided a welcome source of entertainment for the residents. The architectural concept however, left many residents bewildered as to why someone would build a bowling alley right above the Cineplex. Even I vaguely recall hearing countless pins dropping while catching Star Wars Episode I back in 1999.
Not surprinsgly the Cineplex closed soon after to make way for Novena Furniture Mall that has stood till this day.
Hougang Plaza also introduced many F&B outlets like McDonald’s & Jack’s Place to the residents, and has seen various entertainment venues like Kbox, Arcades, LAN Shops and Pool Rooms constantly change hands due to the lack of patrons, as many more practical malls like Hougang Mall, Hougang Green and Hougang Point (now Festival Market) were constructed to meet the growing demands and population of residents staying in the various Avenues.
If you ask most residents around the area, few would be sad to see Hougang Plaza demolished as it has indeed been quite a sore thumb and is neither a heritage worthy building nor an effective use of space altogether. Yet I still have many memories hanging out at Hougang plaza, including having a once a month McDonald’s breakfast with my Dad, playing $1.80/game bowling sessions and spending my Sundays after church, voyaging with Zhuge Liang & Co. in the popular 三国arcade game.
Hougang Plaza was sold to Far East Organisation in 2012, and from what I see as I walk pass it, is going to become yet another condominium/shopping mall.
Interestingly, I do think that everyone has their own little heartland shopping centre that they have fond memories of, from ‘loitering’ after school hours, to the Sunday family breakfast or just being a landmark to meet your friends before the days of mobile phones and pagers.