Revelry turned quiet luxury at Riviere

/ EdgeProp Singapore |
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The site’s legacy, 300m river frontage, proximity to two MRT stations and design by SCDA Architects are expected to draw both investors and owner-occupiers

Hong Kong-born, Singapore-bred film director Elgin Ho met his wife at Zouk, when it was at Jiak Kim Street. It was during a Heineken Green Room event sometime in 2006-2007. Besides the artistes, there were activities that evening, including a face-painting counter.
Ho’s friends had made him get his face painted. “From the corner of my eye, I saw a girl laughing as my face was being painted,” recounts Ho. “I told her it was her turn next. After our faces were painted, they took our pictures and asked us for our email addresses. I asked for hers too.”
Such scenes of revelry will now be part of Jiak Kim Street's history as the former site of Zouk nightclub makes way for an upscale, mixed-use development with luxury residences (Credit: Bloomberg)
Meeting at Zouk was all the more memorable since he and his girlfriend-turned-wife didn’t go clubbing all that often. “We realised we had a lot of shared interests and we were even in campuses near each other: I was at NTU [Nanyang Technological University] then, and she was at NIE [National Institute of Education],” says Ho, who is now in his late 30s. The couple were married in 2012.
Dominic Lee remembers Zouk at Jiak Kim Street just as fondly, as it was a “rite of passage” for him and his friends. They would go to Balaclava for “Happy Hour” before proceeding to Velvet Underground at Zouk. “I remember first going there during my polytechnic days,” he reminisces. He met his girlfriend-turned-wife at Balaclava, but brought her to Zouk on “several dates” thereafter.

Catering to the ‘mass affluent’

Some 20 years later, Lee, the head of Prop-Nex’s luxury team, is marketing Rivière, the new luxury residential project located on Jiak Kim Street, where Zouk used to be.
The 455-unit Rivière by Singapore-listed property group Frasers Property, previewed over the weekend of May 25-26 and drew a crowd of about 1,000.
Crowd at the sales gallery of Rivière on the first weekend of previews (Credit: EdgeProp Singapore)
Prior to the preview, he had received many inquiries about the project. “The fact that it was Zouk’s former site generates interest,” says Lee.
“I saw a lot of people in my age group, those in their early to mid-40s. I would call them ‘mass affluent’ as these are people who have achieved a certain level of success in their careers. Many of the visitors also live around the River Valley-Orchard Road area.”
Zouk had been located on Jiak Kim Street for 26 years before its move to Clarke Quay. Christopher Tang, CEO of Frasers Property Singapore, reckons the club’s legacy spans at least two generations. “There’s this current generation of club-goers,” he says. “And there’s the last generation – those who are now parents driving their teenaged children to Zouk and waiting outside for them.”

‘Unparalleled location’

The 145,120 sq ft site at Jiak Kim Street was launched for public tender in mid-October 2017 and at the close of the tender in December 2017, there were 10 bids. Frasers Property Singapore emerged as the winner with a top bid of $955.4 million ($1,733 psf per plot ratio). “It was a very hotly contested site,” says Frasers Property’s Tang. “It’s a rare site. Not only in our eyes, but in the eyes of other developers too.”
Zouk used to be housed in the three conserved godowns with a total area of 18,299 sq ft that were built 100 years ago (Credit: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

The appeal of the site goes beyond its legacy as the former home of one of Singapore’s most enduring clubs. “The location is unparalleled,” says Tang. “It’s close to two MRT stations – Great World and Havelock. Even rarer is the fact that it’s next to the Singapore River, and at the riverbend.”
Besides proximity to two MRT stations on the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line, the project is within a short driving distance to Great World City shopping mall, Orchard Road shopping belt, the CBD, Marina Bay Financial Centre and Marina Bay Sands.
Both the Jiak Kim Street site and its neighbourhood along the Singapore River have also been transformed. Frasers Property wants to “capture the duality of the site – its historic significance along the Singapore River and the modernity of the project”, says Tang.
Tang: The location is unparalleled. It’s close to two MRT stations – Great World and Havelock. Even rarer is the fact that it’s next to the Singapore River, and at the riverbend (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Mixed-use, riverfront precinct

The three adjoining conserved warehouses that once housed Zouk were built in 1919 – exactly 100 years ago – and have a total area of 1,700 sq m (18,299 sq ft). One of them will be converted into a lobby and reception area for the adjacent, new four-storey block which will have 80 serviced apartments.
The other two warehouses will be converted into F&B outlets, a specialty grocer’s as well as other communal facilities and services that will serve both residents and guests in the serviced apartments.
“Most of the GLS [government land sale] sites in recent times have been very tight,” says Frasers Property’s Tang. “This site is quite big at about 1.35ha. We took advantage of that to create a mixed-use precinct that includes commercial and serviced apartment components.”
The site’s location on a 300m riverbend ensures that every one of the 455 units in the twin 36-storey luxury residential towers will have a view of the Singapore River. As the towers are raised 18m or six storeys above street level, even the units on the lowest floor will enjoy unobstructed river views.
Being on the riverbend, the site has a 300m frontage of the Singapore River. It's also within a 3-4 minute walk of the Havelock Road and Great World MRT stations (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp SIngapore)
Residents can also enjoy walks along the Singapore River promenade, Kim Seng Park located just across the Jiak Kim Bridge and Fort Canning Park. Alternatively, residents can choose to “retreat to their quiet oasis within the development where we have created a lot of landscaped gardens and water features”, adds Tang.
The Sky Deck on the rooftop of the 36-storey twin towers also ensures that all residents will enjoy panoramic 360-degree views of the city skyline.

Luxury project

Chan Soo Khian, founding principal and design director of SCDA Architects, is the design architect for Rivière, the serviced apartments and the conserved warehouses. Chan is famous for the design of luxury residences in Singapore such as The Ladyhill, The Marq on Paterson Hill and Nassim Park Residences.
Rivière’s sales gallery at Zion Road as well as all the four showflats within were also designed by SCDA, and cost a total of $5 million.
Show suite of a 2,002 sq ft, four-bedroom unit that comes with private lift access (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
The apartments at Rivière are designed with very high specifications: marble flooring for the living and dining areas; full marble bathrooms; top-end German brands such as Poggenpohl cabinetry and Gaggenau kitchen appliances; as well as bathroom accessories and sanitaryware by German brands Duravit and Gessi.
Units range from one- to four-bedroom deluxe apartments with sizes from 560 to 2,002 sq ft. One-bedroom apartments make up 70 units; two-bedroom units sized from 818 to 840 sq ft make up 140 units; three-bedroom and three-bedroom premium units with sizes from 1,141 to 1,711 sq ft account for 210 units; while four-bedroom deluxe units constitute 35 of the 455 units. The three-bedroom premium and four-bedroom deluxe units will have private lift access. Prices of units at Rivière will start from $2,580 psf or $1.5 million for a one-bedroom unit.
Besides Singapore, the developer also intends to showcase the project in Hong Kong. Private previews are ongoing, with the project scheduled for launch in July. Frasers Property expects the project to appeal to both local and international investors given its location and project attributes.
All units will come fully fitted with Poggenpohl designed kitchen cabinets, quartz countertop and Gaggenau kitchen appliances (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Given the significance of the project, Frasers Property has appointed the four biggest real estate agencies to handle its marketing: Besides PropNex, the other three are ERA Realty Network, Huttons Asia and OrangeTee & Tie.

Capital appreciation

“Rivière is probably the last parcel fronting the Singapore River that is zoned for residential use in the Central Area,” says Lee Sze Teck, Huttons Asia head of research. As such, the project is expected to appeal to a wide group of buyers.
Huttons’ Lee also sees the potential for “steady capital appreciation”. A plus point for both parents with young children and investors is that River Valley Primary School is just across the Singapore River. Another attribute is the fact that the project is designed by SCDA Architects which has won numerous international awards, he adds.
Being near the CBD, the development is likely to attract tenants working near the city centre, says Christine Sun, OrangeTee & Tie head of research and consultancy. Various services provided by Frasers Hospitality at the serviced apartment block such as concierge services, laundry services and housekeeping, could also be offered by landlords to the tenants of the residences at Rivière as added services.
Corner units like this four-bedroom showflat will enjoy 270-degree views (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
“It’s an advantage over other surrounding condominium developments as they seek to attract the same pool of tenants,” notes Sun. “The project should command a premium over other developments in the area.” She cites the rarity of a project being in the vicinity of three MRT stations: Besides the future Great World and Havelock stations, it is also near Fort Canning Station on the Downtown Line. “They provide almost seamless access to most parts of the island,” she notes.
Rivière is scheduled for completion in 2023 and will benefit when the new stations on the Thomson-East Coast Line become operational in 2021, says Eugene Lim, key executive officer of ERA Realty Network. He expects the majority of the buyers to be Singaporeans, with a mix of owner-occupiers and investors.
Across the road from Rivière is the 450-unit Martin Modern, which is over 72% sold. Launched in July 2017, the development had average prices of about $2,191 psf. Over the three months from March to early May, units sold have averaged $2,692 psf. This translates to a price appreciation of close to 23% in less than two years. A high of $3,208 psf was achieved in December 2018 when a 1,012 sq ft, three-bedroom unit on the 29th floor of one of the 30-storey towers was sold for $3.25 million.
Buildings in the CBD overlooking a stretch of the Singapore River (Credit: Bloomberg)

River view premium

Kelvin Fong, executive director of PropNex, is also an avid investor who has been investing in the River Valley-Orchard Road neighbourhood for the past decade. He has bought and sold several units in the Robertson Quay area. “Units here tend to be very popular especially among Japanese expatriates and command strong rentals,” he observes. “This was even before the announcement of the new MRT stations on the Thomson-East Coast Line.”
He sold one of his investment units in a freehold development at Robertson Quay two years ago and bought a unit at Martin Modern when it was launched. As his unit at Robertson Quay has a river view, he was able to sell it for a price above $2,100 psf. In the same development, units that didn’t face the river were priced at $1,800 to $1,900 psf. “That’s the kind of premium that a unit with a river view can command over one without,” says Fong.
Two-bedroom units at Riviere start from 818 sq ft (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Zouk at Jiak Kim was where Fong met his wife, Janet Lim. He recalls that it was on a “Mambo Jambo Night” in 1999. Fong was then a pilot at the Republic of Singapore Air Force, while his wife was an air stewardess. They were married in 2001.
The couple joined PropNex in 2003, and Fong’s Powerful Negotiators Group, now known as PNG, is the biggest, with about 4,400 agents today. Fong has been holding events at Zouk every year not because of nostalgia, but “because it can accommodate up to 1,000 agents”, he says.
Even without the sentimentality of revelers, Rivière’s unique legacy, site attributes and unit mix will appeal to both owner-occupiers and investors, notes PropNex’s Lee. “It will be one of the top-selling projects of 2019,” he adds.

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