Late-night chat sessions, study cram sessions or just last-minute shopping runs – these are part of the fondest memories residents around the area have of McDonald’s Place at King Albert Park.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Oxley Holdings bought the iconic building for $150 million. Open since 1991, the 5,534.8 sqm space — which is home to McDonald's corporate headquarters, one of the largest McDonald's outlets in Singapore and Cold Storage, among other smaller cafes — will be torn down and re-developed for both residential and commercial purposes, according to The Straits Times.
When this will happen seems to have not been decided yet, however, as tenants inside the building have reportedly not been informed by the building's management when they have to move out.
Residents whom Yahoo! Singapore approached during the course of this week, some who were hearing the news for the first time, shared their fondest memories of their time “growing up” with it.
The Fu family stayed in the house right behind the building — number 2, King Albert Park — for the past 20 years. They now live slightly nearer to town, but the Fus still own their almost equally-iconic old home.
Homemaker Fu Yayin told Yahoo! Singapore she will miss Cold Storage in particular, as the best go-to place for almost anything she needed.
“We never had to do our supermarketing on a weekly basis because whatever we needed was always ‘down the road’,” she said. “We could go anytime and any day, and avoid peak (shopping) times as well!”
She said the McDonald’s building serves as “an iconic landmark that everyone knew”, and always proved useful when she needed to give guests directions to her home.
Her son, 21-year-old Edward Fu, now studies abroad, but still treasures the McDonald’s building as one of his favourite childhood memories, having spent 16 years of his life there.
“I remember spending late nights chatting with friends over a cheeseburger or an ice cream sundae, or driving through with my parents for some supper,” he said.
He shares also that he used to pay weekly visits to the building, eating at McDonald’s, buying groceries from Cold Storage or renting a video from the Video Ezy store, which has since been replaced by Island Creamery.
“I will definitely miss the building as I spent much of my childhood doing things revolving around it,” he said.
The condo beside the McDonald’s building is now home to many tenants, but several residents have lived there for many years — one of whom is
Homemaker Elizabeth Tan, who has lived in the condo besides King Albert Park for the past 13 years, remembers bakery Bengawan Solo, which used to be just opposite Cold Storage.
“It was great because you could buy cakes anytime, and redeem vouchers that we often got from there,” she told Yahoo! Singapore.
She also pointed out that the area beside the entrance to the second floor of the McDonald’s restaurant, which is now occupied by Spinelli Coffee Company, used to be a room for birthday celebrations — where two of her three now-teenaged sons celebrated their third and fourth birthdays respectively.
“My sons loved the Mac’s and they loved going there… we pretty much went there till they got sick of it,” she laughed. “We still do go there together once in awhile as a treat… it really is quite a nice place for us,” she added, saying that she still meets her friends at Spinelli for coffee.
24-year-old Melissa Lim grew up around the King Albert Park neighbourhood, and has lived in and around the Bukit Timah area all her life.
“Saying I’m very upset just doesn’t cut it… KAP days, in a way, epitomised my youth,” she said, adding that the building holds good memories of time spent with her family, and church and school friends.
“It is near my house, church and primary school… I always looked forward to Sundays when my parents brought my brother and I to McDonald’s after church service,” she shared.
“I was always fascinated by the train tracks they had along the perimeter of the ceilings, and I used to collect Barbie dolls while my brother had Hotwheels cars from our happy meals too!”
Business development manager Marilyn Li has lived at the nearby Toh Yi estate for the past 22 years, and says she feels like she grew up at King Albert Park.
“When I need to make cheesecake, Cold Storage saves the day by being the only supermarket nearby to sell sour cream,” she says, adding that her mother used to leave her siblings and her to play at the playground that used to be on the second floor of the McDonald’s restaurant while shopping at the supermarket.
Asked what they hope could replace the existing building, residents hoped there could be a larger mall with more shops and cafés, to supplement the existing tenants.
“I would really welcome a shopping mall in its place—I would love that!” said Tan. “I hope they’ll retain the McDonald’s and Cold Storage, though, those were really the crowd pullers,” she added.
“I would actually like to see some chill-out cafés and perhaps some bookstores to complement the Al Ameen stretch and the market nearby,” said Lim.
Edward said he hopes to see some form of entertainment and a few eateries taking its place, although his mother expressed reservations about a new taller building “towering over us”.
Others, like Li, simply wanted the old building to stay.
“It’s classic; no other building in Singapore looks like it,” she said.
Many Singaporeans have also taken to the internet with expressions of sadness, disappointment and nostalgia.
"That was where I had my first date with my boyfriend 18 years ago," said user As Tina on Yahoo! Singapore's Facebook page. "Now we are happily married with three kids!"
Another reader, Jay Sg, said he worked part-time at Cold Storage while waiting for his O-Level results years ago. "The wage was $3.20 per hour at that time," he added.
"So sad to see the place go," wrote Vaishnavi Jayakumar. "So many great memories of birthday parties, the giant pit of plastic balls, playing here as a kid and studying here as a teen."
A Facebook group was even set up on Friday in protest at the sale and impending closure of the building, and it already boasts more than 600 members.
Called KAP 2012, perhaps to sound like the viral Joseph Kony campaign, part of its description reads, "We do not need another condo. We need KAP -- home to our memories of growing up in Singapore."
What are your memories of McDonald’s Place at King Albert Park? We’d love to hear from you. Send us your best memories and photographs to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “My memories of KAP” in the headline and your pictures and story may be featured.