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Thread: FROM MESSY TO TERRIFIC MANSION

  1. #1
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    Default FROM MESSY TO TERRIFIC MANSION

    FROM MESSY TO TERRIFIC MANSION

    Fights common. A man slashed wife in 1998 Paint peeling from walls, pee in lifts Record $4m en bloc hope for one-time dump Hangout for gamblers, call girls

    By Joyce Lim

    June 25, 2007



    Old-timers: (From far left) Mr Dick Tay who heads the sales committee, Mrs Maria Quek, Madam Lucy Lim, Mr Lim Siah Khin, Mr Cheng Geok Chor, Mr Jimmy Tay, Mr Tony Quek and Mr Tan Kok Siak are some of the oldest residents at Pacific Mansion. -- Picture: Kua Chee Siong

    RATS once roamed freely in this condominium.

    It was also home to gamblers and prostitutes, and even construction workers who had to squeeze like sardines into each unit.

    Other transient residents included budget travellers, karaoke lounge hostesses and China study mamas.

    To top it all, the estate also got bad press when a gruesome suicide happened in 1998, and when its management started imposing parking fees on its visitors.

    Some residents at Pacific Mansion at River Valley were even embarrassed to tell casual friends or colleagues where they lived.

    Yet they stayed on, even as many other families have come and gone in the last decade.

    Today these 'stayers' are having the last laugh because all of them now stand a chance to become instant millionaires as they put their homes up for collective sale.

    They are now gunning for a record en bloc price for their 45-year-old freehold development.

    If they get what they wish for when the tender exercise closes next month, Pacific Mansions could fetch around $1.18 billion, or $2,400 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr).

    That's above the record $2,338psf ppr set by The Ardmore exactly a week ago on Sunday.

    At $2,400 psf ppr, Pacific Mansions' 290 owners stand to get between $3.9m and $4.2m each. With such a huge carrot, getting the majority of residents to say 'yes' was a breeze.

    Before en bloc fever gripped the residents last year, each unit fetched only about $800,000 on the open market.

    Retiree Cheng Geok Chor, 74, said in Mandarin: 'It's such an attractive price. It's silly not to sell. I've stayed here long enough, in good times and in bad. Finally I will be rewarded for staying so long.'

    His wife Madam Goh Quee Yong, 70, piped in: 'The market is so good now and the price is attractive. It's only at collective sale that we can get such a good price. Of course we want to sell. I want to buy landed property!'

    Another resident, Mr Lim Siah Khin, 62, who moved into Pacific Mansion 18 years ago, was glad that he no longer has to live in an estate with a dubious history.

    He said: 'This place was so old and dirty before we upgraded it a few years ago. The location is very good. It's a stone's throw away from Orchard Road. But if we can get a good price for it, we will be more than happy to let it go.'

    Mr Dick Tay, who heads the sales committee, agrees.

    'Now is the right time and the price is right. With about $4m, residents here can find another property around the area and still have about $2m left in their bank.'

    Mr Tay, a 35-year-old businessman, proudly said that his sales committee managed to get 80per cent consensus from the homeowners in just two months.

    Mr Tay said that those who have not signed are generally those from bigger families who worry about relocation.

    He explained: 'Some of these families own more than one unit here and the parents live close to their children, who have their own families.'

    'These people are afraid that they may not find apartments next to each other after they move out of Pacific Mansion. The sales committee is doing whatever it can to help them.'

    Mr Tay added that things have been smooth sailing for his sales committee because he did not treat the collective sale effort as a business transaction. Instead, he discussed the idea with every resident.

    'When some of the residents said 'no' to us, we left them alone. We didn't pester them. That's why we don't have problems which sales committees in other developments faced, like residents hurling abuse at each other,' Mr Tay said.

    'Over at Pacific Mansion, anyone can be part of the sales committee. We don't have closed-door meetings.'

    Asked if he is giving residents false hope that they can each pocket about $4m for the sale, his reply was 'no'.

    He said: 'It is not out of greed that we have asked for $4m per household. We came up with the figure based on the current market trends.'

    'We have to safeguard the interests of our residents. I want to avoid the same situation as at Horizon Towers. I don't want residents to blame me later for asking for too little. I believe we have priced ourselves reasonably.'

    Pacific Mansion is one of the oldest developments in the area.

    Formerly occupied by British families, vacant units were sold to Singaporeans after independence and the British moved out.

    Madam Lucy Lim, 74, who moved into Pacific Mansion in 1969, recalled: 'In the begining I rented a three-bedroom apartment at Block 16, subletting the other two bedrooms and providing meals to the tenants to earn my living.

    'Later when my landlord wanted to sell her apartment, I rented units in other blocks and ended up at Block 16 when I finally saved enough to buy my own unit.'

    It cost her about $100,000 in total, including $30,000 on renovations and $35,000 on upgrading fees.

    She said: 'In the past it was easy to rent out our apartments here. But after we got our sleazy image and bad reputation, the price of our property dropped. It only shot up again in recent years.'

    Mr Cheng added: 'We had tenants with unsophisticated backgrounds living here. They peed in the lifts and the nightclub women created a lot of noise when they returned home after their work in the wee hours of the morning.'

    'My wife and I regretted moving in here back then. When friends asked me where do I live, I would tell them 'somewhere in River Valley'. I was embarassed to tell them that I live in Pacific Mansion.'

    Mr Tay said that the management had put in a lot of effort to try to change the reputation of the place.

    Over the years, the residents' profile has changed, with families moving in.

    'Today, young professionals, foreign students, Japanese and Indonesian expats make up about 40 per cent of the tenants at Pacific Mansion,' MrTay said.

    When the spanking new condominium comes up, it will probably dominate the River Valley skyline once more, sans the estate's colourful past, he said.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: FROM MESSY TO TERRIFIC MANSION

    'THIS WAS A DIRTY ESTATE'

    By Joyce Lim

    June 25, 2007


    MOVING to Pacific Mansion used to be his biggest regret because he lost over $800,000 by doing so.

    Mr Cheng Geok Chor used to live in a two-storey shophouse on Campbell Lane but he sold it for $160,000 to move into a three-bedroom unit in Pacific Mansion in 1987.

    Not long after Mr Cheng sold his shophouse near Tekka Market, the area was given conservation status by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

    The 74-year-old retiree recalled: 'My ex-shophouse's value rose to more than $1 million. At that time, I felt that moving into Pacific Mansion was my greatest regret.'

    Other than its easy accessibility to Orchard Road and Chinatown, there was nothing else that Mr Cheng liked about his home, especially before it was upgraded.

    'It was an old and dirty estate, flooded with undesirable characters,' he told The New Paper on Sunday in Mandarin.

    His wife Madam Goh Quee Yong, 70, recalled: 'We couldn't sleep well at night because the apartment above ours was rented to women who worked in the nightclubs.'

    'When they came home late at night, their high-heeled shoes made a lot of noise and often woke us up.

    'There were also many gamblers coming in and out of the estate. Some of them would get drunk and pee in the lifts. I usually avoided getting into the lifts with them.'

    The couple has four children aged between 36 and 46. Three are married and have their own homes. Only their eldest daughter is staying with them.

    Mr Cheng said that he only started to appreciate living at Pacific Mansion after the upgrading works were completed in the mid 1990s.

    'We have a new management council who ensured tighter security in the estate,' Mr Cheng said. 'Things have improved since then.

    'And with the security cameras installed inside the lifts, people stop peeing inside and dirtying them.

    'Also, after the upgrading, every two units on each floor had their own private lift. For the first time I felt that I had privacy living in a condominium.'

    Mr Cheng and his wife decided to stay on in Pacific Mansion. After all, he had used his retirement funds to pay for it.

    'If we had wanted to sell it, we wouldn't have been able to get a good price for it,' Mr Cheng said.

    'Not many people want to live here after all the bad publicity on its sleaze.'

    'Also the old estate still looks drab amongst the newer, classier-looking condominiums in the area.'

    Today, with a potential collective sale bonanza, the ex-bank clerk is hopeful that his patience will pay off and that he, too, will soon be an overnight millionaire.


    Pacific Mansion's sordid past

    Early 1990s

    Some apartments are used as workers' quarters and illegal accommodation for budget travellers.

    Outsiders also make use of the free parking facilities in the estate.

    17 Apr 1991

    Anti-vice officers and policemen uncover a brothel with 11 prostitutes operating in one unit.

    Operator Chua Huat Thong, then 45, is jailed for 18months.

    5 Jan 1993

    Two men are sentenced to death for drug trafficking. He left heroin in a a friend's apartment in 1988.

    1996

    Estate's management council proposes $28m upgrading project which is rejected.

    Five months later, estate accepts new $10m upgrading plan.

    New lifts and lift lobbies are installed.

    Water-piping, electrical systems and rubbish chutes are changed.

    Closed-circuit monitors and card-only access to blocks are installed. All blocks are repainted.

    30 Aug 1996

    Police officers raid one unit and seize 26 Myanmar passports with expired immigration entry stamps.

    Twenty three illegal Myanmar nationals are arrested.

    6 Jun 1998

    Businessman Albert Lee Kim Kang slashes his wife on the neck and jumps out of his bedroom window on the sixth storey.

    He dies 13hours later in hospital.

    2002

    Visitors have to pay to park their cars in the estate.

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