Beneath its present demeanour, Farrer Park holds traces of Singapore’s history and Muneerah Bee was surprised to find that there’s more to the neighbourhood than round-the-clock shopping facilities.
Named after the former President of the Municipal Commissioners, R.J. Farrer in 1935, Farrer Park was once home to Singapore’s first racecourse built in the early 1840s.
The racecourse, located around present-day Farrer Park Road, witnessed many memorable events including the centenary celebration of Singapore’s founding in 1919. It was also used as a runway for the first aircraft landing in Singapore in 1911.
Drawn by the racecourse, some European families back then moved into the area near Farrer Park, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) website: “Dunlop, Cuff, Dickson and Clive Streets bear the names of the families who once used these streets as private access lanes.”
The racecourse moved to Bukit Timah in 1933, but its presence is remembered in the street named Race Course Road. After the move, Farrer Park was home to a sports venue until the mid-eighties. Today, the site is occupied by Farrer Park Primary School.
Brand new sight
Currently, Farrer Park is home to a wide variety of residential and commercial entities. Served by the North East Line (NEL) and several bus routes, the area is easily connected to the heart of Singapore and beyond.
Its connectivity will soon be enhanced when the NEL is connected to the Downtown Line (DTL) in 2016. The Little India MRT station, which is one stop away from Farrer Park MRT station, will serve as an interchange station for the DTL when it opens.
One of the prominent retail centres is Mustafa Centre which stays open 24 hours, with a wide range of over 300,000 items and products available.
Residents in Farrer Park can also turn to City Square Mall at Kitchener Road, which offers plenty of retail and dining options, along with a Golden Village cinema, with easy access to the underground MRT station.
Known as Singapore’s first eco-mall, City Square is big on environmental sustainability. For instance, the lights and escalators have auto-lighting and slow-down features and it is the first mall in the country to be integrated with an urban park.
Interestingly, the New World Amusement Park used to be located where City Square Mall and the City Square Residences are currently, and a replica of the gate to the amusement park stands outside the mall.
Potential in healthcare
Healthcare facilities in Farrer Park are set to change in the years to come. Besides the existing KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, it will soon have one of the world’s first integrated healthcare and hospitality complexes.
Connexion at Farrer Park by The Farrer Park Company is built directly above the MRT station, and will comprise a specialist medical centre, the first in the area, with 189 consultation suites; a private tertiary hospital; and a luxury hotel with conference and wellness facilities.
The Farrer Park Medical Centre will have more than 200 medical specialists providing convenient access to specialised healthcare services. It will be located next to Farrer Park Hospital, one of the first private hospitals to be built after 30 years. The hospital will offer a fresh approach to medical treatment, and has a planned capacity of 145 beds. Within the same complex, the One Farrer Hotel & Spa offers accommodations ranging from serviced apartments to villas to standard hotel rooms.
Clinics at the medical centre received their Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) in April 2014, according to a recent research paper by DTZ Research. “Upon completion, most of the 189 units had been sold off with only smaller units of sizes between 700 and 800 sq ft still available for sale,” it said.
With the upcoming integrated medical hub, Joji Lin, Senior Marketing Director at Huttons Asia believes Farrer Park holds much potential. “This area will create a huge supply of professionals looking for jobs and accommodations around here,” she said.
Besides the future medical facilities, a number of residential projects are also currently being developed in Farer Park, such as Forte Suites, Cityscape at Farrer Park, The Citron Residences, Ritz @ Farrer, 28 RC Suites and 8 Farrer Suites.
Developed by JForte Holdings’ subsidiary Forte Development, Forte Suites has sold about 20 percent of its units since its soft launch with prices ranging from $1,600 psf, according to media reports. The 106-unit project along Mergui Road has been touted as a hotel-style condominium consisting of one-bedroom units to penthouses.
Right next to it, Cityscape at Farrer Park is expected to be completed in 2015. The freehold condominium is 31-storeys tall with a total of 250 units.
Over at Marne Road, a mixed development, The Citron is rising. Comprising 36 freehold shops and 54 residential units as part of The Citron Residences, the project is slated to be ready in 2019.
Meanwhile, Ritz @ Farrer and 28 RC Suites will offer freehold apartments around Race Course Lane, and more options are also available at 8 Farrer Suites along Sing Joo Walk.
The area’s investment outlook appears promising thanks to its positioning as a high-end residential area for tenant-expatriates and upper-middle income families, who prefer a peaceful yet conveniently-located address, R’ST Research Director Ong Kah Seng said in recent media reports.
In addition to the newer residential and commercial high-rise buildings, Farrer Park is also home to many conserved shophouses, some of which have been around since post-war Singapore. Residents can choose from a wide range of unique dining offerings such as Jewel Coffee and Bar along Rangoon Road.
Some of these shophouses have been converted into unique boutique hotels, backpacker hostels and inns such as The Mitraa. Such businesses bring about liveliness to the area and unleash a new breath of life for the shophouses.
Perhaps one of the hidden gems of Farrer Park is the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hall at Race Course Lane, dedicated to the leader of India’s independence movement.
Parts of Farrer Park borders Little India, one of the most vibrant cultural districts in Singapore, opening more dining and shopping avenues for residents around the area.
Besides being rich in heritage, Farrer Park is not without flora and fauna. It is home to some adaptable wildlife, and the URA has outlined a self-guided walking trail to explore some nature that can still be found around Farrer Park.
While Farrer Park used to host some of Singapore’s iconic places in the past, it is now ready to write its own history with existing and upcoming developments and landmarks.