Businesses cheer new Downtown Line stations

PHOTO: Businesses cheer new Downtown Line stations

When Mr Michael Roh left South Korea for Singapore two years ago, he brought with him a "Singapore dream" to succeed as a restaurateur.

Now, with the opening of the new Telok Ayer MRT station on Dec 22, he is confident it will come true. His eatery, I Love BBQ Korean Restaurant, is just a street away on Amoy Street and he has renovated the second storey of the shophouse in anticipation of better business.

"Many people don't come when it's raining or there are weather issues, so with the MRT station right next door, more people can travel to the restaurant," said Mr Roh, 53.

Shop owners in Telok Ayer and Marina Bay cheered the news yesterday of upcoming subway stations in their neighbourhoods.

The stations are part of the new Downtown Line, and businesses hope it will deliver more customers from other parts of town.

The Telok Ayer station is at the intersection of Telok Ayer Street and Cross Street, near Far East Square. The Downtown station will be linked to Marina Bay Link Mall (MBLM), which is at the basement of the Marina Bay Financial Centre.

Ms Eliza Yap, 48, an image consultant at Raffles Tailor, said: "We've been waiting years! It will definitely bring more crowds and the retail scene will become more vibrant."

The shop, which specialises in bespoke suits, is opening a second store in MBLM next January in anticipation of swelling demand. Their first store moved to MBLM in 2011.

To cater to more diverse crowds that may come from outside the financial district when the entire Downtown Line starts running, the new store will offer only cheaper ready-to-wear suits.

Raffles Quay Asset Management, which manages MBLM, is also hopeful that the opening of the Downtown MRT station will bring in new shopper traffic and generate buzz in the CBD all week long, said a spokesman.

However, many businesses are also concerned about rising rents.

In fact, some, like Mrs Sally Lim, 41, the owner of spa Beaute Hub International on Telok Ayer Street, have already been notified. "The owner has told us that in the next contract rent will go up," she said.

Still, she looks forward to the station's opening. "It is not easy to find our outlet, especially from Raffles Place and Tanjong Pagar MRT stations. Some customers get angry and decide not to come," she said.

For commuters, the impact will likely be limited until the next two stages of the line are open, projected for 2016 and 2017.

Office workers in the area said that while the new stations would not change their daily commutes, the openings might ease congestion on existing lines.

Customer service executive Daniel Tay, 40, said: "Since people can choose a different line, or choose to get off at different stations, maybe trains will be a bit less packed."

Several people said that existing MRT stations are already located fairly close together, so most of the destinations in the area are within walking distance.

For now, some business owners are cautiously optimistic about the new stations.

One of them is Mr David Ting, 44, owner of the three-month- old cafe and wine bar Let's B.friends on Boon Tat Street. "Most customers are regulars," he said. "But if we tell people there's an MRT station just next door it will encourage them to come."

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