The Florence Residences – first mega launch of 2019

By Cecilia Chow & Charlene Chin / EdgeProp | February 8, 2019 11:00 AM SGT

The first suburban condo to be launched this year sets the bar for other upcoming launches in terms of its size and location. And it has recently received a boost from the Cross Island Line.

Aerial view of The Florence Residences set amid the landed housing estate in the Kovan area (Credit: Logan Property)
One of the most anticipated launches this year is The Florence Residences, the 1,410-unit private condo located on Hougang Avenue 2. “It is the first of a handful of suburban mega projects – with more than 1,000 units – to be rolled out this year,” says Ismail Gafoor, CEO of PropNex.
Hong Kong-listed, Shenzhen-based Chinese developer, Logan Property, will preview the project on the weekend of Feb 16-17, and is not leaving anything to chance. It has appointed five property agencies to market the project: ERA, Huttons Asia, OrangeTee & Tie, PropNex and SRI.
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The Florence Residences is the redevelopment of the privatised HUDC estate, Florence Regency. When the estate was put up for sale by JLL, there were three bids at the close of the tender: one was above the reserve price of $600 million, and two were below. None of the developers was prepared to match the $629 million valuation by independent valuers at Colliers International. That was until Logan Property swooped in and offered the price in October 2017.

Going for scale

Chng: We certainly hope to achieve healthy sales on the launch day as we strongly believe in what The Florence Residences has to offer (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/ The Edge Singapore)
According to CB Chng, executive director of Logan Property, what attracted the developer’s attention was the sprawling 389,239 sq ft land area. “When you have a large site, you have the opportunity and the scale to create something different,” he says. The Florence Residences will have a resort-style, “club condo” concept – 15 themed pavilions, 12 clubs and 128 different facilities including an 80m lagoon pool, which is the central feature of the development. More importantly, the facilities cater to all ages – from toddlers to grandparents – adds Chng.
Another draw for the developer was the location of the project. Florence Regency is set amid a predominantly mature, landed housing estate. It, therefore, has a wide spectrum of amenities. Eateries range from hipster cafes such as Lola’s Café and Hatter Street, to local hawker fare such as Punggol Nasi Lemak and Punggol Noodles as well as the famous Teochew porridge stalls. Schools in the vicinity include the 32,000 sq ft preschool Pat’s School House, Rosyth School and Dimensions International College.
Until Jan 25, the nearest MRT station to The Florence Residences was the Kovan MRT Station, situated 776m away, which translates to an eight-minute walk. Then came the announcement of the 12 new stations and their locations on the first phase of the Cross Island Line by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Jan 25.
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Shot in the arm

The show suite of a one-bedroom unit at The Florence Residences (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/ The Edge Singapore)
The announcement provided a much-needed shot in the arm for the property market, and proved to be a bonus for developers with recently launched or upcoming projects within walking distance of these 12 stations.
The Florence Residences, for one, is a potential beneficiary as it is just 600m or a six-minute walk from the Hougang MRT Station. This is because Hougang will be an interchange station for the North East and Cross Island Lines. “The Florence Residences will be a winner because one of the exits of the Hougang MRT Interchange station will be located about 600m away,” says PropNex’s Gafoor. “The huge upside for future residents is that travelling time will be greatly reduced.”
Besides being within walking distance of Kovan and Hougang MRT Stations, The Florence Residences will also be just one stop away from the new Defu station on the Cross Island Line. “Under the Master Plan 2013, Defu [Industrial Estate] is one of three industrial parks to be developed and many new jobs are expected to be created in the area,” says Christine Sun, head of research & consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie.
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The existing Defu Industrial Estate will be redeveloped into “a green and sustainable industrial park of the future” over the next 15 to 20 years. “It will be revitalised into a modern industrial park, complete with landscaped greenery and environmentally sustainable features, and be renamed Defu Industrial Park,” says URA in its 2013 Master Plan. The new Defu Industrial Park will have modern industrial complexes with 2.1 million sq m (22.6 million sq ft) of industrial space, catering for industries such as logistics, precision engineering, infocommunications and media, electronics, clean energy and biomedical.
Another “next-generation” industrial park in the making is the Lorong Halus Industrial Park, which is being built on a former landfill and will cover an area of over 100ha. The industrial park will cater for light and clean industries such as food, lifestyle and logistics. Fronting Sungei Serangoon will be greenery with recreational amenities and public spaces along the riverfront. The Lorong Halus Industrial Park is envisioned to be a major employment centre that will provide more jobs closer to home for those living in the Northeast region.

Investment element

The two-bedroom show unit with the balcony adjoining the living room turned into a mini bar (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/ The Edge Singapore)
“The announcement that Hougang will now be an interchange station, and the new Defu station just one stop away on the Cross Island Line, will draw investors to The Florence Residences,” says Ken Low, managing partner of SRI. “The Defu and Lorong Halus Industrial Parks are just a seven-minute drive from The Florence Residences.”
Besides the two industrial estates, the Tai Seng industrial estate is also nearby, says Logan Property’s Chng. “There will be a certain percentage of investors among those who stay in the area, or and are familiar with it,” he notes. “There are the affluent who now live in a house and may wish to downsize to an apartment. Some may even want to buy a unit for their own stay and a second unit for investment. We believe there is a strong rental market here because of the industrial parks in the neighbourhood and the Seletar aerospace park further up in the northeast.”
As there are 1,410 units within the development, Logan Property is able to offer a wide range of unit types to appeal to a mass audience – from one- to five-bedroom units. One-bedders account for 20% of the units within the development, while two-bedders make up 43% and three-bedroom units, 27%. Meanwhile, four- and five-bedroom units make up the remaining 10%.
The indicative starting price for the one-bedroom units is $678,000, while two-bedroom units are from $878,000. Three-bedroom units start from $1.248 million, while four-bedders are upwards of $1.7 million and five-bedroom units are from $2.449 million. In terms of average price, Logan Property’s Chng reckons it is likely to be in the “$1,400 to $1,500 psf range”.

‘Faster pace of sales’

The three-bedroom show suite with the balcony designed as an extension of the living area (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/ The Edge Singapore)
The launch of projects last year such as the 1,052-unit Affinity at Serangoon North Avenue 1 and the 1,427-unit Riverfront Residences at Hougang Avenue 7 may have soaked up “a fair amount” of the housing demand in the Hougang and Serangoon areas in District 19. “The Florence Residences, however, has its own catchment,” says PropNex’s Ismail.
Eugene Lim, key executive officer of ERA Realty, concurs. “The different projects are spread out over various locations of District 19. In the case of The Florence Residences, it is located near Hougang and Kovan MRT Stations, and also near the town centre at Hougang.”
The recent announcement of Hougang MRT station being elevated to an interchange station will certainly make The Florence Residences “more attractive” and likely to translate into “a faster pace of sales at current prices”, says ERA’s Lim. However, he doesn’t expect developers to hike prices. “Buying sentiment is not very strong currently,” adds Lim. On the other hand, it presents “a good opportunity for buyers to pick up units”.

Suburban ‘Club Med’

The five-bedroom penthouse show suite (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/ The Edge Singapore)
While The Florence Residences site has the potential to build 1,446 units, Logan Property chose to develop just 1,410 units so that the individual units could be bigger. “In this catchment area, I believe we should build bigger unit sizes as many are buying for their own stay,” says Chng.
Unfazed by the competition from other mega projects launched last year, Chng sees The Florence Residences as “the only new launch in the area”. He adds: “People like to visit new project launches. Our ‘Condo Club’ lifestyle concept is quite different from what the others have.”
OrangeTee & Tie’s Sun agrees. In addition to having the most extensive number of facilities (128) and its “biophilic design”, some of the facilities offered are unique to the project, she observes. These include the Sparring Ring Pavilion with its Punch Bag Corner, Dart Board Pavilion, Water Basketball and Pool Table. There’s also a residents’ concierge service which is typically available only in luxury projects, she adds.
Another unique feature is that the developer is also offering free classes as part of the residents’ membership, for instance, baking, dance and floral arrangement classes. “This ‘Club Condo’ concept is very good because you have two years of free courses that you can book through a smart app and your whole family can enjoy these facilities,” says SRI’s Low. “It is a good add-on for potential homebuyers.”

‘Hopeful’

The Sparring Ring Pavilion is one of the more unusual lifestyle and recreational facilities offered within The Florence Residences (Credit: Logan Property)
Last year, Logan Property in partnership with another Chinese developer, Nanshan Group, launched Stirling Residences. The city-fringe project is located within a three-minute walk of Queenstown MRT Station. Since its launch on July 5 last year (the evening before the property cooling measures came into effect), the 1,259-unit project is more than 40% sold.
Logan Property has also launched the second phase of Stirling Residences in mid-January this year. These are the premium units in the middle tower, notes Chng. “The response has been encouraging and we anticipate more interest building up.”
The property cooling measures introduced last year have had a sobering effect on the market. “Gone are the days when projects reached a near sell-out on the first day of launch,” he concedes. “Buyers are more cautious with their purchases. We see this as a positive sign as it eliminates impulsive purchases.”
However, Chng adds: “We certainly hope to achieve healthy sales on the launch day as we strongly believe in what The Florence Residences has to offer.”