F&B towkay selling Bishan bungalow for $11.5 mil

By Cecilia Chow and Bong Xin Ying / EdgeProp Singapore | February 3, 2019 8:03 AM SGT
Businessman Ricky Kok bought his bungalow at Clover Crescent four years ago. Even though the house is the biggest along the street, his family has outgrown the space.
The 2½-storey house sits on a freehold, land area of 10,034 sq ft. It has a built-up area of up to 8,000 sq ft, five en suite bedrooms including the master suite, two rooms on the attic level, a karaoke room and an outhouse on the side of the main house. There’s a home lift from the first level to the attic.
The house has a 55m frontage (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/ The Edge Singapore)
According to Kok, he entertains his business associates and staff quite often at home. However, the house is still too small for his parties of 200 to 300 people. “I’m looking for a house with an entertainment room, perhaps the size of a ballroom, where I can hold big parties,” he says. “Or a bungalow with a large indoor and outdoor space that can comfortably accommodate a few hundred people.”
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Kok has been living in Bishan for almost 20 years. One of the main reasons is that his two elder children – a son and daughter now in their early 20s – attended Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Primary and Secondary, and now his two younger children, also a son and daughter, are enrolled in primary 1 and 2 in their elder siblings’ alma mater.
Built on an elevated ground, the house at Clover Crescent enjoys broad views of the Bishan area
Another reason Kok likes the area is that “it’s very central”, he says. “It’s convenient, no matter which part of Singapore you go to.” This is because Kok is the founder of Chang Cheng Group, a sprawling F&B empire with outlets islandwide – it includes more than 28 coffee shops bearing the Chang Cheng Mee Wah signboard; more than 200 food stalls selling a wide range of food from vegetable rice or Tze Char to roast meats; and seafood restaurants under the brand, Ming Kitchen Seafood. He has over 1,000 employees in Singapore, and if his businesses in Malaysia were included, they would number over 2,000 staff.

Rags to riches

A successful entrepreneur today, Kok was born in Seremban, and he is the fifth of seven children. His parents passed away in a car accident when he was just a teenager. “My dream was always to be a businessman, an entrepreneur, to carve a path for myself,” he says. “The main driving force was to earn more money because we were really poor. I wanted to do well, to be a good person, so that my parents would be proud of me, even though they had passed away.”
Businessman Ricky Kok bought his bungalow at Clover Crescent four years ago (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/ The Edge Singapore)
At the age of 15, he decided to make his fortune by coming to Singapore.
When he first arrived, he decided that the best way to understand a city was to live in different places. He rented rooms in Teck Whye, Jalan Sultan, Chinatown, Potong Pasir, and reckons that he moved “more than 10 times” in as many years. He says: “I wanted to get to know the neighbourhood, the environment there, observe the traffic flow and the kind of shops they had.”
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He opened his first food stall in Toa Payoh Block 126, and he bought his first home, an HDB flat, in Bishan. His younger brother, Paul, worked with him for 10 years before branching out to launch his own F&B business. The latter is one of two directors of the holding company EH 155, which paid a record price of $31 million for a 4,521 sq ft coffee shop in Bukit Batok in 2015.
The outdoor ground deck can potentially be converted into a lap pool
Today, his siblings have also done well for themselves, and five of them are entrepreneurs like him, and also in the F&B business. Two of his siblings – an elder brother and sister – have joined his business, says Kok.
Even his wife is helping him in his business. As such, although the house is big, it’s not lavishly furnished. “Initially, we wanted to buy a new Da Vinci sofa for the living room when we first moved in, but we were so busy, we never got around to doing it,” he says. “So, the current sofa, also from Da Vinci, was purchased 10 years ago and came from our previous home. We live simply.”
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Move-in condition

When he purchased the house four years ago, it was already completed and in move-in condition, says Kok. “At least I didn’t need to spend a lot of time redoing the place. It’s not easy to build a house from scratch.”
The living room of the house with a double volume ceiling
The reason he purchased the current home four years ago was that his previous home, a semi-detached house along Jalan Binchang, was too small. “The place was too tight for us to entertain,” says Kok.
The full-marble master bathroom (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/ The Edge Singapore)
He purchased the current house at Clover Crescent for $9.6 million, according to a caveat lodged with URA Realis in 2015. “Now the two elder children are grown up, and they want their own space,” says Kok. “I’ve discussed it with my children over the past few days, and they want to find another house in this neighbourhood. But I told them that it’s not easy to find a big house in Bishan.” This is especially so when the family is already living in the biggest house on Clover Crescent.

Sought-after location

The property was put up for sale over the weekend of Jan 26-27, with Jeffrey Sim, associate executive director of OrangeTee & Tie, as the exclusive marketing agent. “There’s a lot of interest in the property,” says Sim. “It’s because of the location in Bishan, and the lack of supply of such houses.”
There are five en suite bedrooms in the house. Pictured are the bedroom of one of the older children (top) and the two younger ones (above) (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/ The Edge Singapore)
According to Sim, the house has a 55m frontage, which is rare in the Clover estate. The location is also sought-after because of its proximity to top schools such as Raffles Institution, Catholic High School and Kuo Chua Presbyterian.
The price tag on the house is $11.5 million ($1,146 psf).
“We’re not really making a big profit from this sale,” says Kok. “We just want to move to a bigger house so we can have the space to entertain our friends.”