By Cecilia Chow/ EdgeProp Singapore | October 2, 2020 6:00 AM SGT
SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) – The Holland Road-Leedon Road neighbourhood is an area that Dennis Chiu, executive director of Hong Kong-listed property development and investment company, Far East Consortium International, is very familiar with. One of his first property investments when he arrived in Singapore in 1988 was the former Leedon Court, an apartment block that he bought and subsequently redeveloped into Leedon 2, a 72-unit, freehold condominium. The project was fully sold and completed in 1996.
Chiu says it was by “a stroke of luck” that Far East Consortium was able to purchase two adjacent prime sites on Holland Road: the former Hollandia for $183.4 million in March 2018, followed by The Estoril, for $223.9 million a month later. Singapore-listed Koh Brothers Group became a joint-venture partner with a 20% stake, while Far East Consortium retained the majority 80% stake for the new freehold development, Hyll on Holland. The project sits on the two amalgamated sites and occupy a total area of 138,110 sq ft.
Having a condominium of over 300 units allows a developer to benefit from economies of scale, says Chiu. At Hyll on Holland, the developer is able to offer generous condominium facilities, from a 50m swimming pool to a clubhouse with residents’ lounge, air-conditioned fitness centre and gymnasium, a running track and lush landscaping. “Hyll on Holland has 319 units, which is a good size in terms of scale of the development: not too small that it becomes too costly for future owners in terms of conservancy charges if we provide full condominium facilities, and not too large that it loses its exclusivity,” he adds.
The majority of the units — 231 out of 319 or 72% — are two-bedders. They range from two-bedroom suites of 570 sq ft to two-bedroom deluxe units of 721 sq ft. Almost half the two-bedders or 110 units are two-bedroom deluxe units of 700 sq ft.
Another 88 units are three-bedders, of which half are three-bedroom deluxe of 936 sq ft, and the remaining half are three-bedroom-plus-study deluxe of 1,055 sq ft.
“We spent a lot of time planning the layout of the different units,” says Chiu. “We made the balconies squarish so people will be able to make use of the space.” Television points are provided on both walls of the living and dining area, so homeowners have flexibility in deciding where they want to place their television set.
Units are designed with a dumbbell layout where bedrooms are situated on either side of the living and dining area, to reduce the need for corridors and hence increasing the efficiency of the interior space. The units are designed with additional storage at the distribution board; kitchen cabinets include cutlery tray and space organiser, while the master bedroom wardrobe will have a safe and accessories tray. The kitchen is fully fitted with Miele kitchen appliances including refrigerator and washer-dryer, while the bathroom fittings and sanitaryware are from top-end brands Duravit and Hansgrohe.
The design architect for Hyll on Holland, Aedas, has raised the landscaped facilities deck 5m above street level, while the six 12-storey towers are raised 11m above it. This means that the lowest unit is 16m above street level, the equivalent of five floors. Hence, the units are well above the Holland Flyover. The towers are also set back from the main road.
Having observed transactions in the Holland Road and Leedon Road neighbourhood, Ken Low, managing partner of SRI, sees the majority of buyers favouring larger apartments, particularly the two- and three-bedroom units. “That’s the buying trend now, based on demand for such units,” he says. “The layout of the units at Hyll on Holland are also very well thought out, with wide frontage for the living and dining area. People will appreciate the landscaping, the low density of the development and the sizeable site.”
In fact, there has been an increase in the proportion of two- and three-bedroom units sold in the primary market across the board, according to findings by Nicholas Mak, head of research for ERA Real Estate. This was based on his analysis of transactions for the five months from April to August 2020, following the outbreak of Covid-19 and “circuit breaker”, relative to the same five-month period last year (see table below).
According to ERA’s Mak, some buyers have been anticipating the launch of Hyll on Holland for the past few months. “The two-bedroom units are suitable for both young and elderly couples without children,” he notes. “They are also ideal for investors. The way the units are configured means they can be rented out to two different tenants. Meanwhile, most families with children prefer three-bedroom units,” he adds.
The layout of the units has been planned with an emphasis on efficiency, functionality and flexibility of spaces, notes Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie. In addition to the efficiency of the dumbbell layout of the apartments, the squarish shape of the balconies improve their functionality as spaces for al fresco dining, work, outdoor exercise or kids’ play area, adds Sun.
New home sales momentum has picked up over the past four months: from 998 units in June to 1,080 units in July and 1,256 units in August, according to URA figures. “September’s new home sales could well match, or even surpass the level seen in August, because of the successful launch of Penrose last weekend,” says Ismail Gafoor, CEO of PropNex.
Penrose is located in District 14 in the Rest of Central Region (RCR). Meanwhile, Verdale, which was launched on the weekend of Sept 19–20, is located in the Upper Bukit Timah area in District 21, also in the RCR. Forett at Bukit Timah, also in District 21 and the RCR, was launched in August.
“Hyll on Holland is therefore, the most significant project — in terms of scale — to be launched in the CCR [Core Central Region] since the Phase Two reopening after the circuit breaker,” notes Gafoor.
Even with competition from other CCR projects this year, Gafoor is confident that Hyll on Holland will have “its own following of owner-occupiers and investors”.
Hyll on Holland will open for preview and sales on Oct 2 on a first-come, first-served basis. “It’s not the norm for high-end projects to do balloting, virtual or otherwise,” says SRI’s Low. He does not expect the recent restrictions on the reissue of option to purchase (OTP) by the Controller of Housing to affect sales at high-end projects. “CCR projects tend to attract more investors, who are less affected by the reissue of OTP compared to projects in the RCR and OCR [Outside Central Region] projects,” he says.
Meanwhile, Far East Consortium’s Chiu says: “It’s a good time to commit to a home purchase now if you have the means, because interest rates are so low.”
Prior to Hyll on Holland, Far East Consortium recently completed Artra, a commercial and residential project located at Alexandra View. Launched in May 2017, the 400 residential units in the development are fully sold. The project is a 70:30 joint venture between Far East Consortium and another Hong Kong-listed developer, New World Development, respectively. Chiu recently purchased the 10 strata-titled commercial units at Artra for $41.53 million from the joint-venture partners, according to an Aug 26 announcement by Far East Consortium.
All the commercial units at Artra have been fully leased, with Watsons and Burger King already opened. The project is linked directly to the Redhill MRT Station. Meanwhile, homeowners at Artra are progressively receiving the keys to their new apartments. “Despite Covid-19, we managed to sell our last unit during the circuit breaker,” says Chiu. “With the project completed, people can appreciate the quality of the development and its strategic location.”
Meanwhile, at Hyll on Holland, Chiu reckons the majority of the buyers are likely to be owner-occupiers, given its location in the prime District 10 residential area. “We have stretched our imagination to maximise greenery by creating a Botanic Gardens setting for the landscaping, and significantly enhancing the environment so that homeowners at Hyll on Holland will enjoy a great lifestyle,” says Chiu.
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