'Hidden gem' plan for Pearl's Hill
By Joseph Yadao, TODAY | Posted: 28 June 2007 1020 hrs

A charming hilltop park that serves as a tranquil retreat for the bustle of the city. A series of mid-level parks that will form a "green necklace" in the area.

Such an idyllic setting is set to be a reality under a plan to transform the Pearl's Hill area into a "hidden gem within the city", where residential homes will be built within a lush garden setting.

To start the ball rolling, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has released the sales conditions for a land site at Outram Park/Eu Tong Sen Street. The site, to be known as Outram Point, is located above the Outram Park MRT interchange station and also serves as a major gateway to the Chinatown area and the Central Business District.

"They are not out to create another Orchard Road, but rather a modern area that retains the flavour of Chinatown," said Mr Nicholas Mak, Knight Frank's director of research and consultancy. Mr Li Hiaw Ho, executive director, CB Richard Ellis Research, said: "The land parcel at Outram Point stands out for its excellent location and large maximum gross floor area of 143,343sqm. Its location on top of Outram MRT station and near Chinatown makes it a prime site with lots of commercial potential."

The land parcel is about 2.56 ha in size and has a gross plot ratio of 5.6. The URA expects the future developer to assign around 50 per cent of the total gross floor area for office use, and a minimum of 20 per cent for hotel use.

The developer may use the remaining floor area for additional office or hotel, or for residential or commercial purposes. "This could be a part of the 'Work, Live, and Play' concept, with modern residential and commercial spaces. If interesting residential developments were to come up in the area, it would attract working professionals," said Mr Mak.

Property analysts agree that the office space being set aside for Outram Point will help alleviate the crunch for office space.

"The area could attract companies with China-related businesses. But with critical mass, financial companies, law and business services firms could move in," said Mr Mak.

When that happens, it could mean good news for Chinatown's retail scene because of the potential spending power of workers in the area.

"We think the remaining 30 per cent is likely to be developed into a retail mall because of the high traffic volume from the MRT station and the dense residential population in the area," said Mr Li.

He expects the site to fetch about $650 psf/plot ratio to $700 psf/plot ratio. The 99-year-lease Outram Point site is the only "white" site in which a range of uses are allowed to be released for application on the reserve list in the Government Land Sales programme for the first half of this year. - TODAY/ra