Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Straits Times : High-end childcare centre in low-rent area

The Straits Times
Pearl Lee
21st May 2013 
Location is very convenient for parents working in CBD: Firm
The 1930s bungalow where train drivers would spend the night before a morning shift is now being converted to a high-end childcare centre. The new Modern Montessori International pre-school will open in July and include facilities such as a swimming pool and an eco-garden. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG
IT SITS opposite a vacant housing estate, just metres from two blocks of rental flats for lower-income households.

Yet the site has been chosen to house a new high-end childcare centre, complete with a swimming pool.

The 1930s bungalow on Spooner Road and the area that surrounds it were part of the Malaysian railway land that was handed to Singapore in July 2011.

Train drivers used to stay the night in the 1,014 sq m building before beginning their morning shift.

Now, it will be put to a very different use after pre-school operator Modern Montessori International entered a successful bid to rent it from the Singapore Land Authority.

The firm's new boutique childcare centre - its fourth so far - will open in July and include facilities such as a swimming pool and an eco-garden.

Parents who want to enrol their child will pay $1,200 to $1,500 a month.

But the new high-end facility will contrast starkly with its surroundings, with the nearby blocks either catering for lower-income residents or vacated for future developments.

Opposite the pre-school is a Housing Board estate that has been left vacant for years as the area - including Spooner Road - is earmarked for future residential use.

While some may question the decision to open a boutique childcare centre in the neighbourhood, Modern Montessori International's chief executive T. Chandroo said he was attracted to Spooner Road as it is near the Central Business District, and the high-end residential enclave of Sentosa Cove.

Calling it a strategic location, he said: "It is extremely convenient for parents who drop off their children at our centre on their way to work in the Central Business District."

The Spooner Road area was once part of a railway yard owned by Malaysian operator Keretapi Tanah Melayu. The two blocks, which used to house staff, were converted to rental units after they were handed over to Singapore.

Interested parties were then invited to bid to rent the bungalow for either childcare or eldercare uses. Dr Chandroo said that the site had other advantages: "Tiong Bahru and Kay Siang Road are located to the north-east from our centre.

"Moving along to the south- west, we are able to extend our services to residents from the Harbourfront area."


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