Chip Eng Seng tests Kopar at prices from $2,100 psf

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/ EdgeProp Singapore
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March 27, 2020 9:30 AM SGT
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - To contain the spread of Covid-19, Singapore is prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 persons and maintaining a physical distance of at least 1m with effect from March 27. In line with the restrictions by the Ministry of Health (MOH), the URA outlined tighter measures for visitors to property developers’ sales galleries too.
With safe distancing the new norm, a packed sales gallery and a crowded tent on launch weekends has suddenly become a thing of the past. “A typical project launch is usually like a wet market on weekends; it’s so busy that nobody really gets to see anything,” says Michael Ng, executive director of CEL Development, a wholly-owned subsidiary of listed property and construction group Chip Eng Seng.
spaced out viewings -  The Kopar sales gallery where the developer has limited the number of people per group to just five, and a maximum of 10 groups per session (Photo: CEL Development)
The Kopar sales gallery where the developer has limited the number of people per group to just five, and a maximum of 10 groups per session (Photo: CEL Development)

Tighter restrictions, greater exclusivity

For property developers with high-end condominium projects in the Core Central Region (CCR), the tighter restrictions put in place by the MOH and URA could be a blessing in disguise. “It will mean more exclusive private previews and staggered viewings by appointment,” says Nicholas Mak, head of research at ERA Realty. “And this year, a majority of the new projects slated for launch are in the high-end segment and located in the prime districts. This may just work in their favour.”
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An example is CEL Development’s Kopar at Newton in prime District 9, which was the first to hold a private preview under these stricter restrictions.
On March 25 and 26, the developer proceeded with the preview of Kopar with viewings “by appointment only”. The maximum number of persons allowed in each group was capped at five (including the agent). The number of groups allowed into the sales gallery at any one time was limited to 10. “The groups are well spaced out in the sales gallery and only one group is allowed to enter a showflat at any one time,” says Ng.
Kopar sales gallery - At the sales gallery, groups are kept at a safe distance from each other at each allocated session (Photo: CEL Development)
At the sales gallery, groups are kept at a safe distance from each other at each allocated session (Photo: CEL Development)
If anything, the exclusive preview that the developer had originally planned became “even more private and exclusive”, comments Ng.
“The guests can sit down comfortably in the lounge, enjoy a cappuccino and discuss their options with their agent in a relaxed setting, just like a private club.”
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Sale of units will be conducted by balloting via live streaming a fortnight from now — “subject to any new measures”, says Ng. Parties who are successful in the balloting will be given different time slots to come into the sales gallery to complete their purchase.
kopar clubhouse stella - The sales gallery of Kopar at Newton is modelled after the future clubhouse, which will be designed as an exclusive, private club (Photo: Albert Chua/The Edge Singapore)
The sales gallery of Kopar at Newton is modelled after the future clubhouse, which will be designed as an exclusive, private club (Photo: Albert Chua/The Edge Singapore)

'Clubhouse experience'

CEL Development’s sales gallery is modelled after the future clubhouse at Kopar. The actual clubhouse will be three times larger than the sales gallery. The sales gallery is prominently located along Bukit Timah Road, just off Newton Circus. It spans 15,000 sq ft with a soaring 10m ceiling and a mezzanine floor.
There is a spacious lounge with comfortable seats for intimate group discussions on the first level. There are three showflats within the sales gallery — the three-bedroom showflat on the first level and two-bedroom and five-bedroom showflats on the upper level. A suspended sculptural chandelier with 8,000 crystal and copper teardrops forms the centrepiece of the sales gallery, which is estimated to cost about $4 million to design and build.
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Chip Eng Seng group CEO Raymond Chia is confident of the site’s location, given that it is within a 1km radius of three sought-after primary schools: Anglo Chinese Junior School, ACS (Barker Road) and Saint Joseph’s Institution Junior. Another top school, Singapore Chinese Girls’ School, is within a 2km radius.
Chia: Location-wise, proximity to the MRT station, top schools and Newton Food Centre is a given. But we can’t take these things for granted. We therefore decided to create a nice clubhouse fronting the busy Bukit Timah Road that will grab people’s attention (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Chia: Location-wise, proximity to the MRT station, top schools and Newton Food Centre is a given. But we can’t take these things for granted. We therefore decided to create a nice clubhouse fronting the busy Bukit Timah Road that will grab people’s attention (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Besides top schools, Kopar is within a short walk of the famous Newton Food Centre and the Newton MRT Station, which is an interchange for the North-South and Downtown Lines.
In January 2019, Chip Eng Seng’s CEL Development paid $418.8 million ($1,192 psf per plot ratio or ppr) for the 125,326 sq ft, 99-year leasehold site for the development of Kopar. The residential site sits along Kampong Java Road, just off Bukit Timah Road.
“Location-wise, proximity to the MRT station, top schools and Newton Food Centre is a given,” says Chia. “But we can’t take these things for granted. We therefore decided to create a nice clubhouse fronting the busy Bukit Timah Road that will grab people’s attention.”
2-bedroom apartment - The living and dining area of the two-bedroom showflat​ (Photo: Albert Chua/The Edge Singapore)
The living and dining area of the two-bedroom showflat​ (Photo: Albert Chua/The Edge Singapore)
CEL Development is also providing concierge service for residents at the clubhouse, for the first year after completion, until the management corporation strata title is formed. The developer has also paid attention to the quality of materials and fittings used in the units.
For instance, kitchen appliances will be premium quality SMEG with Vintec wine fridge; while bathrooms will feature Toto sanitaryware. The four- and five-bedroom units will come with private lift access, marble flooring for the living and dining area as well as full marble for the master bathroom.
Given its prime location, the developer received many enquiries about the project through the four appointed marketing agencies: ERA Realty, OrangeTee, PropNex and SRI, according to Chip Eng Seng’s Chia.
master bedroom at kopar - All the master bedrooms are designed to fit a king-sized bed (Photo: Albert Chua/The Edge Singapore)
All the master bedrooms are designed to fit a king-sized bed (Photo: Albert Chua/The Edge Singapore)

Price advantage

The selling prices for Kopar are expected to start from $2,100 psf, with average price of about $2,350 psf, reckons Chia. In absolute terms, one-bedroom apartments will start from just over $1 million, two-bedroom units from $1.3 million, three-bedders from $1.9 million, four-bedroom units from $3.4 million, and five-bedroom units from $3.9 million.
“We’re able to offer such prices because we purchased the site when there was a dip in sentiment,” says Chia. One-bedroom apartments are sized at 517 sq ft; two-bedroom units from 614 to 689 sq ft; three-bedroom units from 915 to 1,098 sq ft; four-bedroom units from 1,518 to 1,604 sq ft; and five-bedroom apartments at 1,819 sq ft. There are also three- to five-bedroom penthouses sized from 1,593 to 3,305 sq ft. The reason for the wide variety of unit types is to cater to families, many of whom are likely to have school-going children, adds Chia.
While the plot ratio and maximum gross floor area for the site allows for a 438-unit condominium development, the developer decided to build just 378 units. “We chose to build fewer units with bigger average sizes,” says
Three-bedroom apartments come with enclosed wet and dry kitchens (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Three-bedroom apartments come with enclosed wet and dry kitchens (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
CEL Development’s Ng. “We felt that in addition to the usual one- to three-bedroom units, there was demand for slightly larger units along this stretch of the Bukit Timah-Newton belt at a reasonable price. So our four- and five-bedroom units will offer sizeable units that are affordably priced.”
Prior to Kopar’s preview was the launch of Pullman Residences, Newton, located further down on Dunearn Road. The 340-unit, freehold condominium is a redevelopment of the former Dunearn Gardens by EL Development. The project sold seven units at its launch in November, of which six are 667 sq ft, two-bedroom apartments priced from $1.88 million ($2,819 psf) to $2.24 million ($3,353 psf). Meanwhile, a 1,281 sq ft, three-bedroom-plus-study fetched $3.49 million ($2,725 psf).
Nearby is Newton One on Newton Road, a freehold, 91-unit condominium that was completed in 2009. The latest transaction at Newton One was for a 1,216 sq ft, mid-floor unit that fetched $2.5 million ($2,055 psf) in a resale last July, based on a caveat lodged.
Kopar showflat preview - Agents meeting prospective buyers in small groups at Kopar's showflat (Photo: CEL Development)
Agents meeting prospective buyers in small groups at Kopar's showflat (Photo: CEL Development)

Recent launches in the CCR

ERA’s Mak points to the launch of The M last month. The 522-unit, 99-year leasehold condo is located in the Downtown Core, and saw 70% of the units taken up on the first weekend of launch in February. To date, the project is 75% taken up, with 389 units sold at an average price of $2,434 psf, based on caveats lodged to date.
“The M is 99-year leasehold, located near the Bugis MRT Interchange Station and in the CCR,” observes Mak. “Likewise, Kopar is also near Newton MRT Station and is in District 9, also a CCR project. At prices starting from $2,100 psf, it’s attractive for that location relative to nearby comparable projects.”
With 38,000 people serving out stay-home notices in Singapore as at March 25, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said that the number of infected people could rise as more Singaporeans return from abroad. As such, Singapore has to prepare for more imported Covid-19 cases, adds Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling the outbreak.
Ng. We felt that in addition to the usual one- to three-bedroom units, there was demand for slightly larger units along this stretch of the Bukit Timah-Newton belt at a reasonable price. So our four- and five-bedroom units will offer sizeable units that are affordably priced (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Ng. We felt that in addition to the usual one- to three-bedroom units, there was demand for slightly larger units along this stretch of the Bukit Timah-Newton belt at a reasonable price. So our four- and five-bedroom units will offer sizeable units that are affordably priced (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Despite Covid-19 jitters, Singaporeans have shown a knack for recognising opportunities in the property market, says Ismail Gafoor, CEO of PropNex. “Potential home buyers need to have a compelling reason to make a purchase in spite of the uncertainty,” he adds. “What will motivate them is price: They must feel that a project is rightly priced, and that there’s a value proposition on the table.”
Ken Low, managing partner of SRI, reckons Kopar’s price indication from $2,100 psf is “a sweet spot” for buyers. As such, interest was strong during the two days of private previews, with all the time slots allocated by the developer “fully taken up”, he says.
CEL Development’s Ng is confident of Kopar’s value proposition to home buyers. “We have a strong product, fantastic location, great design and high specifications,” he says. “The project’s elegant structure is best appreciated slow and easy — like fine wine.”
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