Urban Treasures: A gem in the east

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/ EdgeProp Singapore
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November 22, 2019 10:00 AM SGT

SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - The freehold Urban Treasures is a redevelopment of the former Eunos Mansion, in an area where neighbouring projects are already sold out

JAMES KOH
When James Koh, executive chairman, CEO and founder of Fragrance Group, spotted the spalling concrete pavement below the altar for the Earth God, he dashed out of the Urban Treasures sales gallery. He asked one of his workers to mix a batch of plaster for him while he went to fetch a trowel from his Rolls-Royce, and proceeded to smoothen the concrete. He got quite a lot of work done before surrendering the trowel to the worker.
“[Koh] is very hands-on,” says P Aravindan, deputy CEO of Singapore-listed property developer, investor and hotelier Fragrance Group.
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Upon returning to the sales gallery of Urban Treasures, Koh said he had relocated the Earth God’s altar to its current position as he felt it imparts “a sense of serenity” to the place. It was only after the relocation that he noticed the spalling concrete.
Koh was at the sales gallery of Urban Treasures ahead of the weekend preview on Nov 23 and 24. “After such a lengthy planning process and having obtained all the relevant clearance, we’re finally ready to go,” he says.
 The scale model of the twin 12-storey towers of Urban Treasures on Jalan Eunos (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
The scale model of the twin 12-storey towers of Urban Treasures on Jalan Eunos (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Fragrance purchased the former Eunos Mansion site at Jalan Eunos 1½ years in a collective sale for $220 million. Based on the plot ratio of 1.6 and 10% bonus balcony space, the purchase price for the land translated to $1,118 psf per plot ratio (ppr).
Eunos Mansion has since been demolished for the construction of the upcoming Urban Treasures. The freehold site is 111,735 sq ft and is bordered by Bedok Reservoir Road, Eunos Link and Jalan Eunos.
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“It’s a huge piece of land and it’s freehold,” comments Koh. “That’s why it’s called Urban Treasures – it’s a real treasure in this part of Singapore. With a big site like this, you can have lush landscaping, large swimming pool, wading pool, gym, tennis court and all the other condo facilities that a small site will not be able to provide.”
There is a mix of one- to four-bedroom unit types, with sizes from 452 to 1,270 sq ft. Indicative prices are from $1,830 psf, which means that one-bedroom apartments will start from $880,000 while two-bedroom units will be upwards of $1.18 million.

‘Taking a cue’

“The fact that the land was purchased for about $1,118 psf ppr and is now launching at prices from $1,830 psf shows that the developer is taking a cue from current market conditions,” says Ismail Gafoor, CEO of PropNex Realty, one of the three appointed marketing agencies of Urban Treasures. The other two marketing agencies are ERA Realty Network and SRI.
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Urban Treasures is considered to be within the suburbs or Outside Central Region, but it lies close to the border demarcating the city fringe or Rest of Central Region (RCR), adds Ismail. “In the RCR, 99-year leasehold projects are already going for about $1,700 to $1,800 psf,” observes Ismail. “Urban Treasures, being freehold, is priced from $1,830 psf, which makes it attractive.”
In the RCR in the east, 99-year leasehold projects such as Parc Esta, which sits in front of Eunos MRT Station, has already sold 913 out of 1,399 units at an average price of $1,675 psf since its launch a year ago.
Park Place Residences at Paya Lebar Quarter (PLQ), which is also 99-year leasehold and considered a RCR project, is part of an integrated development linked directly to Paya Lebar MRT Interchange Station. The 429-unit project is fully sold at an average price of $1,875 psf. In fact, many of the units at Park Place Residences were sold at prices above $2,200 psf, with the highest for a one-bedroom unit hitting $2,281 psf in April 2018.
Showflat of a two-bedroom unit at Urban Treasures where sizes start from 646 sq ft for classic units to 721 sq ft for premium units (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Showflat of a two-bedroom unit at Urban Treasures where sizes start from 646 sq ft for classic units to 721 sq ft for premium units (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

‘Potential growth’

“Urban Treasures’ pricing is attractive and there is potential for future growth,” notes Ken Low, managing partner of SRI. “Buyers today are looking for projects with either product or price differentiation.”
Urban Treasures is located a nine-minute walk to Ubi MRT Station and an 11-minute walk to Kaki Bukit MRT Station, both of which are located on the Downtown Line. It is a four-minute drive to Eunos MRT Station on the East-West Line and a six-minute drive to PLQ.
Being close to PLQ is also a draw as the integrated development is part of Paya Lebar Central, which the URA has designated as a commercial hub in the eastern region, says Nicholas Mak, head of research & consultancy at ERA Realty.
The Paya Lebar Airbase will also be relocated to Changi by 2030, which means the whole area is set for rejuvenation. The URA has plans to further develop Defu Industrial Estate in the northeast region and Changi region, including Changi Business Park and Changi Airport, as part of the latest Master Plan.
Urban Treasures - Two-bedroom showflat featuring Bosch kitchen appliances (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Two-bedroom showflat featuring Bosch kitchen appliances (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Mixed neighbourhood

In the neighbourhood of Urban Treasures is a mix of landed, private and HDB estates, notes SRI’s Low. “This mix is important for the pool of potential buyers in the secondary market, who may either be looking to upgrade or buy for their children. The merits of being near HDB estates is that amenities such as supermarkets and eateries are within a six-minute walk from the condo.”
Urban Treasures is also near a few new developments, namely the 48-unit The Navian, a boutique, freehold development launched two years ago and is now fully sold at an average price of $1,588 psf.
Next door to The Navian is the 99-year leasehold EuHabitat, which has 748 units and is also fully sold. The project was launched in 2011, and average price achieved to date is about $1,083 psf. The project was completed in 2015.
“EuHabitat is a good testament of the rentability in that locale,” says SRI’s Low. “Close to half of the entire development was rented out in a year.”
One street away on Foo Kim Lin Road is the 105-unit, freehold Tropika East: launched in 2012, it was completed in 2016. Units sold averaged $1,224 psf.
Fragrance Group’s Koh reckons that the area is “sought after”. The main attraction is Urban Treasures’ freehold tenure, “which is rare”, he adds. “So our target audience is wide – from the neighbouring areas, East Coast or Bedok.”
Urban Treasures - Master bedroom and en suite bathroom of the two-bedroom showflat (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Master bedroom and en suite bathroom of the two-bedroom showflat (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

‘Footloose investors’

ERA’s Mak agrees. “There could be interest coming from those living in the landed and low-rise private housing projects to the east of Urban Treasures,” he observes. “But the project could also draw buyers from further afield. There will be some buyers who are quite footloose, especially those buying for investment and are seeking projects that are perceived to have good price appreciation or rental potential.”
PropNex’s Ismail conducted a consumer seminar at Urban Treasures’ sales gallery on Monday night, Nov 18. “There was quite a good crowd considering it was a Monday night,” he says. “Eighty people had registered and more than 50 people showed up.” The freehold tenure attracted not just those living in the private housing estate nearby, for instance at Jalan Punai, Jalan Rimau, Foo Kim Lin and Teo Kim Eng Roads, but those from the established, private housing estates in District 15, namely Frankel and Opera estates as well, he notes.
Of the mix of one-bedroom to four-bedroom units at Urban Treasures, about 48 units are one-bedroom or one-bedroom premium units, with sizes ranging from 452 to 517 sq ft; and 10 units are four-bedroom premium units of 1,270 sq ft. The majority of the units are two- and three-bedroom units, which come in classic or premium types. Two-bedroom units are sized from 646 to 721 sq ft; while three-bedroom units are 883 to 1,012 sq ft.
The units are designed to be very efficient, says Fragrance’s Aravindan. As the project is designed as two 12-storey blocks, they occupy a footprint of about 30% of the site area, he says. This means that 70% of the site area is available for landscaping and facilities. SAA Architects, a member of Surbana Jurong Group, is the design architect, while Ecoplan Asia is the landscape architect for Urban Treasures.
Typically in November and December, the sales momentum switches to a lower tempo as people make plans for their year-end holidays, according to PropNex's Ismail Gafoor (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Typically in November and December, the sales momentum switches to a lower tempo as people make plans for their year-end holidays, according to PropNex's Ismail Gafoor (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

‘Lower tempo’ not a concern

Koh says: “Urban Treasures is a real gem. It’s near two MRT stations; amenities like eateries, supermarkets and schools are also nearby; and it’s just a 10-15 minute drive to Changi Airport, and another 10-15 minute drive to the CBD.”
He is going ahead with his near year-end preview of Urban Treasures even though it is traditionally a slower period. “I am not worried about people going on holiday,” says Koh. “If their heart is set on buying a unit, they will commit to the purchase, regardless of where they are.”
PropNex’s Ismail adds: “Typically in November and December, the sales momentum switches to a lower tempo as people make plans for their year-end holidays. However, when a project is ready for launch, it’s better to just roll it out rather than wait. Delaying a project launch until next year may not necessarily make a difference in terms of impact.”
For price trends, recent transactions, other project info, check out these projects' research page: Urban Treasures, EuHabitat, The Navian, Tropika East
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