New buzz in Farrer Road after all the noise and dust settle

New buzz in Farrer Road after all the noise and dust settle
Mr Edmund Lee, who owns a bicycle shop in Queen’s Road, gives one-to-one cycling lessons in the neighbourhood. Over the past years, many mum-and-pop shops have made way for new businesses that cater to a younger clientele.

SINGAPORE - For nearly a decade, noise and dust have been a feature of life in the Farrer Road area, a prime-district neighbourhood where flat dwellers rub shoulders with bungalow owners.

The area's privatised HUDC estate Farrer Court was sold in a record deal in 2007 and torn down; the MRT Circle Line was extended to the area in the mid-2000s and the Empress Road market boarded up for a facelift in 2008.

But the dust is finally settling. The market reopened in 2008, Farrer Road MRT station opened in 2011 and the D'Leedon condominium, designed by famed architect Zaha Hadid and located at the old Farrer Court site, will be ready by next year.

The works have freshened up the Farrer Road precinct - not to be confused with Farrer Park, though both are named after the same British colonial official.

Over the past several years, many mum-and-pop shops like hair salons and provision shops have made way for "new kids" on the block that cater to a younger clientele.

These include at least eight education centres as well as businesses selling children's clothes or offering art lessons for kids.

The newcomers sit next to shops that go back 30 to 40 years, including a tailor, a Malay barber and a florist.

About 1.5 years ago, Ms Kit Leng Wah, 42, opened GrayMatter Education Centre at Block 3, Queen's Road.

She said: "Being in close proximity to a transport node is convenient for both my teachers and students.

"Although other centres have mushroomed here, we each have different target groups. This brings more people to the area and lowers marketing costs for us," she added.

Within walking distance from the MRT station are schools such as Nanyang Primary, St Margaret's Secondary and Little Oaks Montessori Kindergarten.

Guru Kids Pro opened at Block 4 last month to offer critical thinking programmes for four- to 12-year-olds.

Owner Katherine Law, 42, said: "I have been looking to open in this area for the past 10 years, but things were too quiet.

"Now, there is the new condominium coming up and rent is affordable. More education centres will increase the vibrancy of the area," she added.

In the same block is Kalas Kids, which opened last week. It sells organic clothes from Scandinavian brands for children up to six.

Its owner, Ms Vivian Chang, 39, said: "I like the neighbourhood, it is a safe environment for children. At about 5pm, you see residents start to come down for their evening walks and children playing on the pavements."

Some of the old shops have leased out part of their space.

Madam Annie Au, 69, who runs Kwanly Dressmaking & Tailoring Institution, has rented out half her shop to her niece Jace Ng, 41, who opened Artz Graine five years ago to train three- to 20-year-olds in art.

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