Low Keng Huat to launch Klimt Cairnhill at prices from $3,532 psf

/ EdgeProp Singapore |
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Singapore-listed construction and property development company Low Keng Huat is launching its maiden luxury condo Klimt Cairnhill on August 28. The 138-unit luxury project is a redevelopment of the former Cairnhill Mansions, which Low Keng Huat had purchased en bloc for $362 million in February 2018. What is little known is that when Low Keng Huat purchased Cairnhill Mansions en bloc, the original intention was to redevelop the site into “The Ritz-Carlton Residences 2”. This is because the plot abuts The Ritz-Carlton Residences’ site at 65 Cairnhill Road and could potentially be interlinked. (See: See potential condos with en bloc calculator)
Low Keng Huat approached KOP Properties, the developer of the luxury 58-unit The Ritz-Carlton Residences. “We explored how we could amalgamate the two sites but unfortunately, it couldn’t happen because of the technical and legal issues involved,” says Alvin Teo, executive director of Low Keng Huat who joined the firm in April this year from Sun Venture, where he was the former head of real estate. “So the idea was dropped.”
As KOP Properties had been “very involved” in the initial discussions on the various options, it was enlisted as a consultant for the redevelopment of Cairnhill Mansion. Further cementing the relationship, Low Keng Huat took a 40% stake in Dalvey Breeze Development, the developer of Dalvey Haus, a 27-unit freehold condominium at Dalvey Road (the former Villa D’Estes). Singapore-listed KOP owns the remaining 60% in Dalvey Breeze Development. Low Keng Huat is also the contractor for Dalvey Haus and Klimt Cairnhill, which are scheduled for completion in 2024 and 2025 respectively.
Teo: This stretch of Cairnhill Road is ‘the golden district’, where many of Singapore’s early business founders either had their homes or place of business (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
In June 2018, Low Keng Huat acquired the neighbouring bungalow at 67 Cairnhill Road and two other adjacent plots for $100 million. Instead of redeveloping the old bungalow, which is said to date back to the early 1900s, the developer has decided to conserve the property and restore it to its former glory as an “elevated Anglo-Malayan style bungalow”, based on drawings from the National Archives of Singapore. It will be converted into the future residents’ clubhouse.
When completed four years from now, Klimt Cairnhill will feature a single 36-storey tower with 138 units and the conserved bungalow sitting on a 62,904 sq ft, freehold site.

Efficient layout, a touch of bling

The developer wanted units that were spacious, but yet “efficient in terms of layout”, says Teo. “It’s natural that the architect will have a very rectangular or squarish layout for the units.” However, Low Keng Huat didn’t want a typical rectangular façade for the tower. “We wanted the development to stand out from the skyline of the precinct,” he adds.
spray-painted façade and gold elements for Klimt Cairnhill - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The architect, DP Architects, came up with a curvilinear design, with a powder-coated, spray-painted façade and gold elements for Klimt Cairnhill (Photo: Low Keng Huat)
The architect, DP Architects, came up with a curvilinear design, with a powder-coated, spray-painted façade. The developer requested for gold elements to be included in the design. “This stretch of Cairnhill Road is ‘the golden district’, where many of Singapore’s early business founders either had their homes or place of business,” notes Teo. He points to Tan Chin Tuan Mansion at 42 Cairnhill Road, where former OCBC Bank chairman Tan Chin Tuan once lived. The 1930s mansion has been conserved, with a new 20-storey residential tower built behind it in 2004. Members of the Tan family still live there.
Nearby is Goodwood Park Hotel, which is part of magnate Khoo Teck Puat’s Goodwood Group of boutique hotels in London and Singapore. Next door to Goodwood Park Hotel is Far East Plaza, which together with Lucky Plaza, earned property tycoon Ng Teng Fong the moniker of “king of Orchard Road”.
Another example is the bungalow at 67 Cairnhill Road, which was last owned by Lien Kwang Wah, the brother of Lien Ying Chow, founder of Overseas Union Bank. After the former passed away in 2008, it had remained in the hands of the Lien family until the sale to Low Keng Huat.
The name “Klimt” suggested by the architect could have been inspired by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, who incorporated gold leaf into many of his iconic artworks. “However, the design and concept of Klimt Cairnhill was not entirely inspired by Gustav Klimt’s paintings,” Teo emphasised. “We had our own design and concept given the location, and it evolved from there.”
Artist's impression of the bungalow at 67 Cairnhill Road - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Artist's impression of the bungalow at 67 Cairnhill Road, which will be conserved and restored to its former glory, and used as Klimt Cairnhill's residents' clubhouse (Picture: Low Keng Huat)

‘Guided by market opportunities’

In fact, Low Keng Huat, which was founded in 1969, was the builder of many of the landmarks of the past, such as the iconic OCBC Centre at Chulia Street. At 52 storeys, it was the tallest tower in Singapore when it was completed in 1976. Past residential projects Low Keng Huat was involved in included those in joint venture with UOL Group, for instance, at Southbank (redevelopment of the former Eng Cheong Tower) at the junction of the Crawford Street and North Bridge Road; the 234-unit Twin Regency (redevelopment of the former King’s, Queen’s and Princess flats) in Tiong Bahru; and the 405-unit One-North Residences at one-north. Low Keng Huat was not just a joint venture partner in the developments but the builder of these projects.
Other recent residential projects by Low Keng Huat include Kismis Residences with 31 terraced houses at Kismis Avenue, in a joint venture with boutique developer Wenul Development; and mixed-use development Uptown @ Farrer, with 116 apartments, seven retail units and a 21-storey apartment block, with 240 co-living apartments branded Lyf at Farrer Park, managed by CapitaLand’s Ascott.
Low Keng Huat, together with Sun Venture and Guthrie GTS, also developed Paya Lebar Square with 10 storeys of strata office units and a three-storey mall with 159 strata retail shops. The project at Paya Lebar Central commercial hub was completed in 2011.
This June, Low Keng Huat and Sun Venture did an asset swap: the former acquired the 45% stake owned by the latter at Paya Lebar Square for $90.5 million (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
This June, Low Keng Huat and Sun Venture did an asset swap: the former acquired the 45% stake owned by the latter at Paya Lebar Square for $90.5 million. Meanwhile, Low Keng Huat sold its 40% stake in Westgate Tower, an office tower in Jurong East, to Sun Venture for $97.1 million. The asset swap was undertaken as Low Keng Huat intended to focus its property investment business on retail developments instead of commercial office developments, according to the group in its SGX announcement on June 11. It has more experience in the management of retail and hospitality assets compared to the management of commercial office space, it adds.
Low Keng Huat is open to participating in government land sale (GLS) tenders too. In fact, it had participated in the tender for the Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 residential site together with KSH Holdings and Ho Lee Group. The site had attracted 15 bids, which UOL and its consortium partners, Singapore Land Group and Kheng Leong Company emerged the winner with a bid of $381.381 million or $1,118 psf ppr. Low Keng Huat and KSH were the eighth highest with a bid of $325.889 million ($955 psf ppr).
In its site acquisitions, Low Keng Huat will be “very much guided by where the market opportunities are”, says Teo. What’s more, its construction business will play a supporting role to its property development arm. “This will allow us to better control quality, price and design direction,” he adds. As such, the group’s construction arm will not be bidding for third-party contracts.
The three- and four-bedroom units as well as penthouses of Klimt Cairnhill will be served by private lift (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Of space and pricing

Klimt Cairnhill has a good spread of two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments: Two-bedroom units of 829 and 893 sq ft make up 50 units; three-bedroom premium units of 1,432 and 1,496 sq ft account for 51 units; and four-bedroom deluxe units of 2,056 and 2,368 sq ft total 35 units. There are also two penthouses: a simplex of 4,898 sq ft and a duplex of 5,920 sq ft. Both come with six bedrooms. All three- and four-bedroom units, as well as penthouses, will be served by private lifts.
Typical units will be priced from $3,532 psf, which means two-bedroom units will start from $2.93 million. Christine Sun, senior vice-president of research and analytics at OrangeTee & Tie feels the price is “attractive, given its prime location, luxurious design and unique attributes”. Other recent launches in prime districts 9 and 10 are the likes of Park Nova where the median price is $4,966 psf this year and Eden at Draycott which was sold en bloc at a median price of $4,789 psf. “There could be potential for further price growth [at Klimt Cairnhill] given the higher prices of comparable projects in the vicinity,” she adds. (See: See potential condos with en bloc calculator)
In the Cairnhill area, the most recent launch was the 268-unit Cairnhill Nine in March 2016. Prior to that was The Peak@Cairnhill, which was launched in 2011, and The Laurels in February 2010. In the vicinity of Klimt Cairnhill, the last launch was probably the 231-unit The Scotts Tower. The 103-year leasehold project was launched in December 2011 and completed in 2016.
“Both Cairnhill Nine and The Scotts Tower are leasehold projects,” points out Nicholas Mak, head of research at ERA Realty. He sees projects located within a 1km radius of Orchard Road as “the playground for the ultra-rich”. He adds: “They will be willing to spend on big units, even if the psf price is high. It’s not just space to relax in that they desire, but to be able to entertain at home too.”

Sought-after residential address

Cairnhill remains one of the most sought-after residential addresses in prime District 9, adds OrangeTee & Tie’s Sun. Upmarket condominiums in the area include SC Global Developments’ 241-unit Hilltops at Cairnhill Circle, the 140-unit Helios Residences at Cairnhill Circle by Wing Tai Holdings and Far East Organization’s 50-unit Alba at Cairnhill Rise. (See: Discover insightful data of any Singapore condominium with our condo directory)
Within the Cairnhill enclave are Mount Eli­zabeth Hospital and Medical Centre as well as Paragon Medical Centre, which are sought-after by affluent expatriates, adds Sun.
Premium three-bedroom showflat of 1,496 sq ft, designed by Hongkong designer LTW Designworks, which specialises in hospitality projects such as the Four Seasons Seoul and The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
There are also Singaporeans who want to be in this choice address: those with children of school-going age, says Low Keng Huat’s Teo. Anglo-Chinese School (Junior) at Winstedt Road, EtonHouse International Pre-School and LaSalle College of the Arts are located just 1km away.
“In terms of location, it’s fantastic,” says Dominic Lee, head of the luxury team at Prop­Nex Realty. “It’s close to good schools and Orchard Road.” Located off Scotts Road, this is regarded as “the quieter end of Cairnhill Road, and therefore a desirable residential area”, he points out.
Demand in the luxury segment will remain resilient, says OrangeTee & Tie’s Sun, especially since more foreign buyers are expected to return once borders reopen gradually. “Many long-term investors and wealthy buyers are still on the prowl for real estate properties as they reposition their wealth from riskier assets in light of the macroeconomic uncertainties,” she adds. “Further, there is still ample liquidity circulating in the system as investment funds have reallocated a massive amount of capital from financial markets to real estate assets.”

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