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Thread: Bohemian enclave

  1. #1
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    May 2006

    Default Bohemian enclave

    Sep 14, 2008


    Bohemian enclave

    This is the first of a four-part series on the property scene in or around colorful spots of Singapore. This week, we feature Little India

    By Bonnie Oeni

    Bored women, reclining languorously on moth-eaten couches, blowing slow swirls of smoke into the fierce sunshine. Quaint shophouses, with deceptively quiet charm, that open their back doors to toy shops with less than innocent purposes. Fatigued labourers, sprawled all over void decks, clutching empty beer bottles in their hands.

    Despite the seedy alleyways and dirty secrets Little India possesses, one of the nation's oldest red-light districts is becoming surprisingly popular to live in, especially with young urbanites and artists drawn to the bohemian feel of the area.

    CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) research shows that since March last year, nine residential projects have been launched in the Little India and Farrer Park area, with seven more in the pipeline, comprising 198 units.

    Many small projects in the area have received good response. The location is attractive because commuting time to the city is only about 10 to 15 minutes by MRT, said CBRE Research.

    Residents concurred. Mr Ron Tan, a travel agent who has been living in a Tyrwhitt Road shophouse for nine years, said: "Living here is very convenient. I can go nearly everywhere by bus, whether it's Orchard, City Hall, Chinatown or even further out in the west."

    Ms Jalea Poon, 20, an NUS undergraduate and an HDB dweller on Buffalo Road, added: "Being located in a centralised district means Orchard, Bugis, Mustafa and Novena Square are around the vicinity and within walking distance."

    A day stroll along Little India's "dodgiest" area, Desker Road, revealed a land of shut doors. Aside from the bustle of Syed Alwi Road a street away, where the 24-hour Mustafa Centre draws crowds of budget shoppers, Little India's sleaziest road is quiet, peopled only by chatty Indian restaurant owners, remittance bank managers and owners of bike repair shops. It comes alive only at night.

    "Walking around Desker Road in the wee hours of the morning, I feel uncomfortable because I can suddenly hear people scream. Transvestites also say ?hello', but I just ignore them," said Mr Tan, 23.

    Ms Poon said women may receive "lecherous but harmless stares" from foreign workers who throng the area on Sunday night for relaxation and entertainment after working the entire week.

    Major crime such as rape or robbery is low. Most misdeeds in the area involve vagrancy, drunken conflicts, men peeing openly on public property and noise pollution on weekends when crowds of foreign workers dance to loud music in open spaces.

    There's traffic congestion due to "many people milling about at night", according to Ms Joyce Chua, 17, a junior college student and resident at Syed Alwi Road.

    "It's too commercialised, too crowded with shoppers," said Mr Tan Ian Chueen, a property investor who bought a City Square apartment at Kitchener Link in 2005 for $550 psf. He sold it for around $600 psf last year, chancing upon better opportunities elsewhere. The father of two young children feels it's not a family-friendly area.

    But residents say policemen patrol the area on Sunday nights, which helps crowd control.

    The residential areas, even those near Desker Road such as HDB flats and terrace houses along Rowell Road, are brightly lit. Most residents have no qualms about coming back late at night.

    Little India, with its many cosy eateries and shops, conservation monuments, pubs and indie art galleries, is electrified by an eclectic mix of history, culture and creativity. This vibrancy is set to continue with the completion of the 700,000 sq ft City Square Mall at Farrer Park.

    Developers are capitalising on Little India'sthe area's popularity with single working professionals and expatriates on local packages unfazed by the bustle. Foreign staff and students in the nearby Singapore Management University also increase the area's rental potential.

    Recent projects focus on one- and two-bedroom units, affectionately termed "Mickey Mouse units" for their small size. They can start from as small as 312 sq ft, such as the ones at Kent Residences at Kent Road, and go up to around 950 sq ft or more.

    With a price tag of about $400,000 to $800,000 each, they work out to about $800 to $1,000 psf. The most expensive is Suites 123 at Rangoon Road, which units were sold for an average of $1,050 psf, while Oxford Suites at Oxford Road, at $800 psf, is the cheapest. At City Square Residences, the biggest residential project in the area with 910 units, the average selling price is $877 psf.

    Five units of Studios @ Marne in Marne Road were sold in July at a median price of $1,010 psf.

    CBRE said these units are affordable considering the area's proximity to the city centre and rising construction costs.

    Future launches in the area include the 25-unit City Studios at Race Course Lane, a 51-unit project in Rangoon Road, and small apartment blocks with eight to 29 units at Owen Road, Roberts Lane and Kinta Road.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008


    I don't really like that place very much. One of my friend went there for an assignment. While there, he was robbed of his gold chain and pushed down the stairs. As a result he broke his legs and twisted his spine. He had to install a metal frame in his spine and several screws in his legs. He was ganged up by a few foreign indians. I am not saying that such things always happen there but it did happen to my friend.

    PS: This friend of mine is a very big and muscular Singaporean Indian.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008


    human ERP needs to be installed in this district. the traffic here is worst than vehicular traffic..

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2008


    Oh yes, I certainly agree with that. Another friend of mine who went there about a month ago. She was walking in the crowd when she was suddenly groped really hard in the butt. She couldn't even identify the person who did it due to the massive traffic.

    However the place does provide some interesting sights due to the indian culture there. I like to bring my foreign friends there for a tour.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2008

    Default Bohemian enclave

    The term bohemian, of French origin, was first used in the English language in the nineteenth century to describe the untraditional lifestyles of marginalized and impoverished artists, writers, musicians, and actors in major European cities. Bohemians were associated with unorthodox or antiestablishment political or social viewpoints, which were often expressed through non-marital ***ual relations, frugality, and/or voluntary poverty.
    The term emerged in France in the 1800s when artists and creators began to concentrate in the lower-rent, lower class gypsy neighbourhoods. The term "Bohemian" reflects a belief, widely held in France at the time, that the Gypsies had come from Bohemia
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