May 25, 2008

Kallang River surroundings poised for boom time

Waterside district with lush greenery has potential to be leading residential enclave, say analysts, pointing out its proximity to town and good public transport

By Fiona Chan, Property Reporter

Walking, jogging and cycling are just some of the outdoor activities that residents of the 4,000 new homes in the area can enjoy. -- PHOTOS: THE NEW PAPER, NATIONAL PARKS BOARD

Finally, a bit of news to cheer the ailing housing market: The drab, neglected area north of Kallang River is to be Singapore's next lifestyle hot spot.

Four thousand new waterfront homes, all to be built by private developers, are slated to come up in the area in the next 15 years.

They will offer cool green living in a lush park setting, as well as resort-style beachfront housing near the water's edge.

Kallang Riverside will also be transformed into a lively commercial hub and leisure destination, with enough space for 400,000 sq m of offices and shops and 3,000 hotel rooms.

All this was announced by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Friday as part of its latest Master Plan, which guides Singapore's land use policy in the medium term.

Property consultants say the new Kallang district, bounded by Lavender and Kallang MRT stations on the northern corners and the Kallang River to the south, has the potential to become a premier residential enclave.

'The area is near town, yet next to the beach, it reminds me of places like the Gold Coast,' said Mr Danny Yeo, the deputy managing director of property firm Knight Frank.

He lauded the exclusivity of the area, which is bounded by waterways on all sides except for Kallang Road to the north.

'It's resort living on the fringe of the city. Many people will want to live there.'

Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL)'s head of South-east Asia research, Mr Chua Yang Liang, called the area 'a hybrid of the current two waterfront areas, Marina Bay and Sentosa'.

Over the last couple of years, demand for waterfront homes has strengthened and the limited supply of such properties has led to their prices surging to a level beyond the grasp of many Singaporeans, he said.

'This new district may help make similar projects available to the man in the street.'

Mr Karamjit Singh, the managing director of property consultancy Credo Real Estate, drew a comparison with Novena, another prime city-fringe area, instead.

He highlighted the fact that Kallang is served by two MRT stations, making it a very desirable residential and office location.

'Kallang has the potential of becoming the new Novena, purely because it's that close to town.'

Lots to choose from

A range of housing options will be available in Kallang Riverside, if all goes according to the Master Plan.

Most of the homes will be set on the western bank of the river in an area called The Green, which will have a park running down the middle.

Low-rise apartment blocks will face the park, with high-rise condominiums soaring behind them.

The Government has set aside several plots for high-density housing here, with varying plot ratios for different building heights, noted Mr Li Hiaw Ho, the executive director of CB Richard Ellis Research.

This will allow for a 'step-down' range of storey heights that descend towards the waterfront, enabling residents in the top floors of each building to enjoy views of the water.

Homes that are directly fronting the park or the river will also be encouraged to go 'fenceless' to create a seamless blend of parkland, beachfronts and buildings, said the URA.

Landed homes may also make an appearance nearer the beaches, said JLL's Mr Chua.

City-fringe prices

Kallang may sound like a first-class place to live, but expect to pay top dollar for homes there.

Property values are expected to soar in the area, especially for the planned new homes. The surrounding residences will not feel any impact for the next few years, but prices may rise once the area starts taking shape, predicted property experts.

Most of the housing estates nearby are made up of HDB flats.

Currently, the only condominium in the area is the upcoming Riverine by the Park, along Kallang Road near the river. Nearby is Citylights, at Jellicoe Road near Lavender MRT station.

Units were recently sold at Riverine for $1,600 per sq ft (psf) and at Citylights for $1,000 to $1,300 psf.

Across the river, condos in Tanjong Rhu have been sold for as low as $750 psf at Tanjong Ria Condo and for more than $1,600 psf at Casuarina Cove.

Knight Frank's Mr Yeo believes home prices in the new Kallang will be 'a shade below those in Orchard, and probably comparable to those in Newton and Novena', with waterfront homes costing even more.

Mr Chua expects prices to be about 10 per cent to 15 per cent lower than those currently commanded by Marina Bay and Sentosa, which range from $1,700 psf to $2,700 psf.

'The plans will bring the population back into Kallang and increase demand for the surrounding properties,' he said.

Already, buyers are being drawn to HDB flats in the area because of the high prices of private homes and the conservation charm of Kallang, Mr Chua said.

'It's still a little sleepy town now, and there won't be much short-term impact, but in the medium to long term, we should see price movements there.'

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# Under the URA's latest Master Plan, Kallang Riverside will be transformed into a lively commercial hub and leisure destination, with enough space for 400,000 sq m of offices and shops and 3,000 hotel rooms.

# Knight Frank's Mr Danny Yeo likens the area to city-fringe resort living, as it reminds him of Australia's Gold Coast, with the district being near town and yet next to the beach.

# Jones Lang LaSalle's Mr Chua Yang Liang calls the area 'a hybrid of the current two waterfront areas, Marina Bay and Sentosa'.