High Park Residences rises amid uncertainty

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/ The Edge Property
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August 12, 2015 9:00 AM SGT
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At 1,399 units, the private condominium is the biggest project launch in five years. Will its success signal a turning point in the residential market or will it be just a blip?
Lim Tiam Seng, the 77-year-old executive chairman of Chip Eng Seng, along with his friends, 86-year-old Toh Khai Cheng, chairman of Heeton Holdings, and Choo Chee Onn, 64-year-old executive chairman of KSH Holdings, have a combined age of an impressive 227 years and a total of 120 years’ experience in the property business.
The sagely trio made a double-or-nothing bid for two adjacent residential development plots on Fernvale Road in the northeast region when URA put them up for sale in June last year. This move was made despite all signs that the housing market was heading south: Developers’ market confidence was weakening, private- home sales in 1H2014 had plunged 62% from the previous year, and the property price index had slid for three consecutive quarters.
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The consortium, led by Chip Eng Seng, emerged winner of both sites on Fernvale Road last August with a bid of $234.9 million ($438 psf) for Parcel A and $252.1 million ($448 psf) for Parcel B. The two 99-year leasehold sites have a combined area of 366,168 sq ft. “If we bid for both land parcels together, we can create a unique and interesting project,” explains Lim. “A bigger piece of land means more space and greater flexibility in design and ability to provide more facilities. We can achieve greater economies of scale and cost savings. We can then pass on that cost savings to our purchasers in terms of affordable selling prices.”
The development project marks Chip Eng Seng’s first collaboration with Heeton and KSH. Chip Eng Seng holds a 60% stake in the consortium, whereas Heeton and KSH have 20% each.
Big is good, says developer The project, named High Park Residences, has 1,399 units, and the sales gallery opened for public preview on July 4. It drew 18,000 visitors within the first two weekends of previews. High Park Residences is considered the largest condominium project launched since the 1,715-unit d’Leedon, which was launched five years ago.
Sales will begin on July 17 and will be conducted by balloting on a first-come-first-served basis. Some real estate agents estimate that 2,000 cheques have been received as expressions of interest, although the developer has declined to confirm a figure.
Joint marketing agents for High Park Residences are Huttons Asia, PropNex and OrangeTee. “As there are three marketing agencies involved, there are bound to be units that see multiple expressions of interest,” explains Mohamed Ismail, CEO of PropNex. “The fairest mode of sales is by balloting.” Other mega projects such as Frasers Centrepoint’s 920-unit North Park Residences and UOL Group’s 797-unit Botanique at Bartley had to carry out balloting on the first day of sales as well, he adds.
Not all cheques submitted will materialise into actual sales. Even then, PropNex’s Ismail predicts High Park Residences will achieve “a record number of sales within the first weekend” for a project launch in 2015. He attributes it to the attractive pricing of the units.
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Bite-size units for less than $2 mil The smallest units are studio apartments, measuring from 388 to 646 sq ft and priced from $380,000. One-bedroom units measure 441 to 743 sq ft and are priced from $430,000. Compact two-bedroom units measure from 570 sq ft and are priced from $530,000. Two-bedroom deluxe units are bigger at 635 to 1,033 sq ft, and priced from $590,000. Two-bedroom-plusstudy units measure 700 to 969 sq ft and are priced north of $700,000.
There is also a mix of three- to five-bedroom units. Three-bedroom unitsmeasure 872 to 1,163 sq ft, while the deluxe three-bedroom units are larger at 947 to 1,249 sq ft. The starting price for a three-bedroom unit is $730,000. Four-bedroom units are from 1,152 sq ft and deluxe units are up to 1,550 sq ft. Prices of four-bedroom units start from $1 million. Five-bedroom units measure 1,389 to 1,819 sq ft are priced from $1.3 million.
“As our average prices are below $1,000 psf, most of the condo units are under $1 million,” says C B Chng, executive director of CEL Development, property development arm of Chip Eng Seng. “Interest has been across the board — with investors, singles and young couples interested in the one- and two-bedroom units and families wanting to buy the bigger three to five-bedroom units.”
Investors see the possibility of rental demand, owing to the proximity of the project to the Seletar Aerospace Park, says Chng. The project is also just across the road from the Thanggam LRT station and a short drive to The Seletar Mall.
When the consortium first won the two sites, residents in the adjacent housing estate on Jalan Kayu were concerned that the new high-rise condo would disrupt the serenity of the area and dwarf the neighbourhood of mainly low-rise and landed homes. To allay their concerns, the developer is building a series of strata landed homes fronting Jalan Kayu to be in harmony with the houses, says Chng, adding that the high-rise blocks are set farther back and therefore will not tower over the existing houses.
The strata houses of High Park Residences have also been seeing keen interest from potential buyers, says Chng. There are 10 semi-detached houses measuring 2,164 to 2,809 sq ft and priced from $1.9 million each; and four strata bungalows measuring 2,379 to 2,799 sq ft and priced from $2.3 million each. Retail/F&B units within the project measure 320 to 361 sq ft and are priced from $900,000. They will front the road and have direct street access.
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Facilities provided for residences Besides the pricing, the other draw for those who have visited the showflat is the variety of facilities available, including music classes, spa treatments and Muay Thai classes. The wide offering is possible because the developer has tied up with operators such as Wolfgang Violin Studio to conduct classes for children, Amore Fitness to organise exercise classes for residents, as well as Amore Spa for its beauty treatments. All residents are entitled to become members of the High Park Club, which means they can use the facilities and amenities without additional costs.
“The project offers extensive facilities,” says KSH’s Choo. “[The success] is attributable to the total package — from the design to the pricing of units and the location. We are confident that it will be well received.” As the site is on a sloping terrain and the units are raised five floors above street level, most units have unobstructed views from the eighth floor up, says CEL’s Chng. The project is considered a mass market condo in terms of pricing and location, but the developer has ensured that the design features and range of amenities are on a par with those of high-end condos, he adds.
“This site has a lot of undiscovered charms and potential,” says Heeton’s Toh. “It’s on elevated ground and offers great vistas of greenery and even the Straits of Johor.”
The anticipated strong sales at High Park Residences do not signal a recovery in the overall housing market, says PropNex’s Ismail. “It shows that demand is very project-specific, just as what we have seen at North Park Residences and at Botanique at Bartley.”
Chip Eng Seng’s Lim also reckons it has to do with timing. “We think it is a very suitable time to launch this project,” he says. “If we wait till next year, there could be more uncertainty in the market. As a business, we have to decide when we want to launch, and try not to be distracted by external factors.”
This article appeared in the City & Country of Issue 686 (July 20) of The Edge Singapore.

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