Sims Urban Oasis — catalyst for transformation of Aljunied

By Michael Lim / The Edge Property | December 2, 2016 11:20 AM SGT
Construction is well underway at Sims Urban Oasis, a 1,024-unit condominium development by GuocoLand. Bordered by Sims Drive and Aljunied Road, the project will be the largest private condo in the Aljunied area when it is completed in 1Q2019.
“When completed, Sims Urban Oasis could just be the catalyst needed to revitalise the area, which is largely made up of ageing HDB blocks,” says Alice Tan, head of research at Frank Singapore. GuocoLand had purchased the site in a government land tender for $530.9 million (about $688 psf per plot ratio) in April 2014. Launched in February 2015, Sims Urban Oasis is about 59% sold to date.
When completed, it will have eight 18- storey blocks sitting on a sprawling site of 257,260 sq ft. Units range from one-bedders of 409 sq ft to five-bedroom units of 1,722 sq ft. On the grounds are also six retail units sized at 232 to 517 sq ft. There is also a 3,254 sq ft space designated for a childcare centre. However, the retail and childcare centre units have not been launched for sale yet.
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View of the Geylang East and Aljunied area with Central Grove on the left, TRE Residences on the right, Sims Urban Oasis in the background and Geylang Methodist Primary and Secondary schools in the centre
Steady sales
The most recent caveats lodged were for six units in November, which were sold at prices ranging from $726,000 ($1,498 psf) for a 484 sq ft one-bedder to $1.37 million ($1,325 psf) for a 1,033 sq ft three-bedder. Average sales of four to five units each week are “encouraging” in the current environment of uncertainty and economic slowdown, says Knight Frank’s Tan. She attributes that to “realistic pricing” by the developer.
Sales generally picks up when a project approaches completion, hence, Sims Urban Oasis is likely to see an uplift in sales in late 2018 to early 2019, says Alan Cheong, head of research at Savills Singapore.
After all, about 70% of the buyers are said to be owner-occupiers, with investors making up the balance. Singaporeans form the majority of the buyers (75%), with foreigners accounting for 25%. With its spacious grounds, ample amenities and different zones for families with children and those who want more exclusivity, the project caters to owner-occupiers of different profiles, says Richard Lin, director of ERA Realty. As such, many of the one-bedroom units have also been purchased by singles and young couples for their own use, he adds.
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The eight towers at Sims Urban Oasis have reached their maximum 18 storeys. Construction is expected to be completed by 1Q2019.
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Gentrification underway
The neighbourhood around Sims Urban Oasis is also slowly being gentrified. Just next to Sims Urban Oasis are three old HDB blocks that have been earmarked for the selective en bloc redevelopment scheme (SERS). The residents in the old blocks have been relocated to Greentops @ Sims Place, a new HDB block that was completed last year.
The three blocks of vacated, old HDB flats next to Sims Urban Oasis, which have been taken back by HDB
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The SERS site could resurface in the govern ment land sales programme as a private residential development site, reckons ERA’s Lin. This will further rejuvenate the neighbourhood, especially when the new private condos attract younger families with children to move in, he adds. New businesses will also be drawn to the area.
For instance, the new James Cook University campus on Sims Drive opened early last year and has an enrolment of 3,400 students. This will certainly bring a younger set to the neighbourhood, as well as draw families with teenaged children, notes Knight Frank’s Tan.
While Sims Urban Oasis may be the largest private condo project in the pipeline for completion, it is not the only one in the Aljunied area. Located adjacent to the Aljunied MRT station is the 250-unit TRE Residences developed by a consortium made up of Sustained Land, Great View Development and MCC Land. The 99-year leasehold TRE Residences is also scheduled for completion in 2019.
Since TRE Residences was launched in November 2014, only 65 units (26%) have been sold as at end-October, according to URA data. The latest median price achieved was $1,519psf. The transaction was for a 570 sq ft, one-bedroom unit that fetched $867,000 ($1,519 psf), based on a caveat lodged with URA Realis.
Sales in the project may also have slowed as homebuyers are spoilt for choice and are, therefore, adopting a wait-and-see attitude, reckons ERA’s Lin. “Most are waiting until the completion of TRE Residences and Sims Urban Oasis before committing to a purchase,” he says.
The mature Sims Vista HDB town is a five-minute walk from Sims Urban Oasis
Australia’s James Cook University Sims Drive Campus is located at the end of Sims Drive
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Price uplift
Located adjacent to TRE Residences and along Geylang East Avenue 1 is Central Grove, a 99- year leasehold condo by CapitaLand that was completed 15 years ago. The 262-unit project is likely to be the first private condo in the area, and it has a mix of two- and three-bedroom units.
The latest transaction at Central Grove was for a three-bedroom, 1,238 sq ft unit on the third floor of one of the towers. The unit was sold in November for $1.13 million ($912 psf). The seller had purchased it in December 2007 for $775,000 ($626 psf). Prior to that, the unit had fetched $605,000 ($489 psf) when the project was first launched in December 1998.
Another transaction at Central Grove was for a 1,238 sq ft unit on the 17th floor that changed hands for $1.24 million ($1,000 psf) in April 2016.
It is clear that with the new private condos such as Sims Urban Oasis and TRE Residences priced in the $1,500 psf range, Central Grove and other residential properties in the Aljunied area have benefited from the price uplift in the neighbourhood, says Savills’ Cheong.
A short drive away is also the upcoming Paya Lebar Quarter by Australian group Lendlease. The integrated project linked to the Paya Lebar MRT interchange station will include 429 residential units. The development, called Park Place Residences, is expected to be launched in 1H2017.
Park Place Residences is likely to be priced at a premium to projects in the Aljunied area given that it is part of a mixed-use development and linked to an MRT interchange, says Savills’ Cheong.
Artist’s impression of TRE Residences, which is jointly developed by Sustained Land, Great View and MCC Land

Source: Sustained Land, Great View and MCC Land

Geylang East Centre Market and Food Corner is located in Geylang East HDB Town centre on Aljunied Avenue 2 and a five-minute walk from TRE Residences
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New amenities
However, residents in the HDB flats and upcoming private condos in the Aljunied area will also benefit from their proximity to Paya Lebar Central, just one MRT stop away, and Raffles Place, which is just a 10-minute MRT ride or five stops from the Aljunied station.
Residents in the Aljunied area will also be able to enjoy the amenities at the upcoming Paya Lebar Quarter, which will have a new shopping mall with cineplex, food court, supermarket and an array of F&B outlets and retail shops when it is completed in 2018. Shopping malls in Paya Lebar that opened in recent years include One KM and Paya Lebar Square.
With the Geylang Methodist Primary and Secondary schools as well as John Cook University, the Aljunied area will also be a hive for families and millennials.
Both the Geylang Methodist Primary and Secondary schools are within 0.5km of Sims Urban Oasis and TRE Residences
This article appeared in The Edge Property Pullout, Issue 757 (Dec 5, 2016) of The Edge Singapore.