Sunday, November 18, 2007

Punggol Waterfront Promenade To Be Ready By 2010

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 18 November 2007

Exciting plans such as a 4.9km waterfront promenade from Punggol Point to Sungei Serangoon are in store for Punggol residents.

Artist's impression of Punggol's waterfront promenade

With the new waterfront promenade, residents can expect sea sport activities and dining facilities.

Punggol Point will also be transformed with a 0.6-ha park that includes facilities for cycling and jogging.

Visitors can also enjoy the scenery from a vantage lookout point at the tiered boardwalk.

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Punggol waterfront promenade to be ready by 2010

Punggol Point is already a popular spot for recreational activities like fishing and camping.

With more facilities coming up, such as a food and beverage establishment as well as a horse-riding centre, more people are expected to flock there to enjoy its rustic charms.

The promenade will connect two proposed recreational clusters at Punggol Point and along Sungei Serangoon.

There will also be park connectors along Sungei Serangoon and Sungei Punggol.

Together, they will complete the entire waterfront promenade loop around Punggol – from Sengkang to Punggol Park – thus providing a continuous walk along the Punggol coastline.

These plans were revealed at a community event by Defence Minister and MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, Mr Teo Chee Hean, on Sunday.

He said: "There are a lot of young families here and some of them are already adventurous. They walk along the coastline, there's a bit of track but not a lot of facilities there. This will enhance the accessibility and make it a more interesting and exciting place for them."

Residents are also looking forward to the makeover.

One of the Punggol residents, Cindy Ong, said: "My block is facing the Coney Island directly, so it has quite a nice scenery. I look forward to the new infrastructure."

"The prices (of flats) over here will increase and the people living around here will be happier," said Alvin Yeow.

Another Punggol resident, Vo Thanh Dang, said: "This idea is very good and it provides residents with a good and relaxing place."

Construction of the promenade will begin next year and will be completed by 2010.

Mr Teo also revealed that the Sengkang Sports Complex is near completion and residents can enjoy facilities such as gymnasium, swimming pools, dance studios and a riverfront cafe from next year.

And for Pasir Ris residents, the location of the upcoming Pasir Ris Complex has been formalised and it will be built near the Pasir Ris MRT Station. - CNA/so

Spacious Condo Doubles As Gallery For Own Paintings

Source : The Sunday Times, Nov 18, 2007

'WE HAVE rented dozens of homes across the globe in the past few years as we find ourselves travelling constantly because of my husband's work.

Of the many homes we've lived in, our current apartment at Cavenagh Lodge has to be our favourite.

ADDING COLOUR AND A TOUCH OF INTEREST to the walls of Mrs Trivedi's home are her paintings depicting angels and flowers. Her biggest fan is her husband, Anand, 34, who constantly praises her work and encourages her to paint. They picked their condominium unit for its spaciousness. Their five-year-old daughter, Tanishka, especially loves the large hall, where she can dance to songs from Bollywood movies whenever they come on the television. -- ST PHOTO: WANG HUI FEN

The spacious condominium, situated in a prime location, is fully decorated with cosy antique furnishings.

The large hall is where my five-year-old daughter, Tanishka, dances to songs from Bollywood movies whenever they come on the television.

The dining area is another pleasant spot in our home, with an eight-seater dining table where we and our neighbours gather for luncheons twice every week.

These luncheons are usually informal gatherings where we eat simple food. But we really treasure each other's company as we sit together and chat.

My daughter gets to spend time with her friends, so she finds it fun too.

The lotus flower decorations in the dining room accentuate the area. In India, these flowers are divine symbols associated with our gods. The flowers float calmly on water in big glass bowls and give a homely sense of serenity.

There are three display cabinets in our home with souvenirs from all over the world: a tea set from Vietnam, a Guan Yin figurine from China, a marble piece from Belgium that depicts The Last Supper from Belgium, dolls from Korea and a mini-windmill from Holland. They remind us of our travels.

Another striking feature is the seven paintings that hang on our walls. They are my own creations, and are abstract pieces that depict angels and flowers.

My husband encourages me to paint, often praising my works and telling me that I paint beautifully.

When people first walk into my home, they do not pay attention to my paintings, assuming that I purchased them from a shop or some sort of art exhibition.

But when they find out that these paintings were created by me, they are usually awestruck.

Our home is a very inviting place as we have put in a lot of time and effort taking care of minute details. We love our place.'

Tycoon Wants A Home For 50,000 Buddhist Artefacts

Source : The Sunday Times, Nov 18, 2007

He plans to build museum for massive collection, which includes 40,000 artefacts recently bought from another collector

THIS 3M-HIGH STATUE OF KUAN YIN, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy, is among Mr Oei Hong Leong's 10,000-strong collection of Buddhist artefacts currently housed in a warehouse. The investor recently acquired another 40,000 items and hired a curator. -- ST PHOTO: LIM WUI LIANG

TYCOON Oei Hong Leong has long been said to have the Midas touch in the business world.

Now, the 60-year-old, who has dealt in everything from steel to palm oil to property, has used his deft mergers and acquisitions (M&A) skills in the art world.

He has just bought a museum's worth of 40,000 Buddhist artefacts to add to his 10,000-strong collection.

In M&A terms, some investors would say he has the market pretty well sewn up.

Mr Oei acquired the latest pieces from a passionate collector, lawyer Woon Wee Teng, who was struggling to maintain the collection in a four-storey pre-war house in Cantonment Road called Nei Xue Tang (The Hall of Inner Learning).

Now Mr Oei plans to build a Buddhist art museum to house his beloved Buddha statues.

He said: 'It will be purely for charity purposes. At a certain age, you want to do something different, something more meaningful in life. This will be a museum where people from Asia and the rest of the world will come to seek Buddhist scholarship.'

He is not a Buddhist and regards Buddhism as a 'philosophy and a way of life''.

The museum is likely to be in the city area and could cost tens of millions if land has to be acquired. Mr Oei also reckons he will have to fork out a few million dollars a year for its upkeep.

The more than $10 million that he made from the recent sale of an industrial building in Pasir Panjang will go some way towards developing the new museum.

Mr Oei had intended to turn that building into a museum but the authorities rejected his plans, saying the building has to be kept for industrial purposes.

The two men declined to say how much Mr Oei paid for Mr Woon's collection but the acquisition included the Cantonment Road house.

Mr Woon, 50, who has been passionate about Buddhist artefacts since he was seven, said his collection includes a 1m-long sleeping Buddha and a 16th century Buddhist monastic robe presented to him by a revered 114-year-old abbot from Sichuan who visited Singapore recently.

Plans for the new museum include a meditation hall, a library housing out-of-print Buddhist art books, a vegetarian kitchen, a lecture hall, a residence for visiting scholars and a souvenir shop.

A curator from China has been hired and Mr Woon is winding down his practice to be adviser.

Mr Oei has been collecting Buddha statues for 10 years. They are mainly from China and made of jade or stone.

The 10,000 pieces are kept in a nondescript 7,000 sq ft warehouse, with unopened boxes as well as boxes of jade statues piled higher than a man's height. Shelves go up to the ceiling and are filled with Buddhist artefacts.

One impressive piece is a 3m-high Chinese gilt bronze 'thousand hand' Kuan Yin or Goddess of Mercy statue.

Mr Oei has run businesses in Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong. He returned to Singapore from Hong Kong in 2000 and has made a name for himself as a shrewd investor.

'Now I'm back in Singapore, I need to find a new job and delete my name from the unemployment list,' Mr Oei joked.

The Village That Grew And Grew

Source : The Sunday Times, Nov 18, 2007

More shops are opening in Tanglin Village but customers and operators have mixed feelings about it.

VILLAGE life can be factious and territorial.

With new developments popping up in Tanglin Village, things appear to be heating up for businesses there.

Six new food, education and apparel shops are opening in stages in the buildings previously occupied by the Civil Service Club, now called Dempsey Hill Green (see other story).

This follows hot on the heels of the 16 restaurant and retail stores that opened in Dempsey Hill in July. Both are managed by Country City Investment.

Bids have also poured in for two more plots of land in Tanglin Village, released recently by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), which manages the area.

The winning bidders will add even more competition to the once-sleepy area. Currently, the biggest leaseholders are Country City Investment and Tanglin Warehouse. The latter sublets to several furniture shops and The Wine Company wine bar. Other establishments in the Village, such as Oosh and PS Cafe, rent direct from the SLA.

With restaurants and shops opening one after another, the old army barracks dotting the Village are now more than 70 per cent occupied.

And not everyone is happy with how this latest lifestyle magnet is pulling in all-day traffic and crowds on weekends. Ironically, some of the unhappy ones are the very customers who are bringing buzz to the place.

Ms Sally Kong, 51, a senior manager at the National Organ Transplant Unit, says she likes the idea of having more options but adds that ’service at some outlets is not as friendly’ now.

For Ms Ida Li, 27, an executive assistant, the place has lost its ‘quaint, laid-back village feel’.

She says: ‘The high flow of cars into Tanglin Village often leaves me scrambling for parking lots.’

In fact, not enough carpark lots is a common complaint. Housewife Marianna Fossick, 40, who dines at the Village weekly, says ‘more needs to be done about the parking congestion, which can be a downer’.

There are some 160 parking lots in Dempsey Hill and more than 20 in Dempsey Hill Green.

Mr Nicholas Ng, 28, general manager of Country City, which manages both clusters, says the company is liaising with the authorities in hopes of increasing the number of parking spaces in Dempsey Hill Green.

But things are not just heating up for visitors to the Village, who have to jostle for everything from parking space to seats at restaurant tables and space along grocery aisles.

With more businesses opening up there, things are also getting competitive among operators of food and retail outlets who were there previously, and the newcomers.

Existing operators say the influx of activities has not brought better business.

Owner of furniture store Pasardina Bob Hoe, 42, says visitors are mostly there to eat and to chill out, so his business has not benefited significantly from the increase in traffic.

Mr Mohammad Ali, 41, store manager of the carpet shop Jehan Gallery, chimes in: ‘The place has become so crowded on weekends that my customers now can’t park their cars nearby to load the carpets they’ve bought.’

For owners of the newer food and beverage outlets, the increase in players has been greeted with caution.

Owner of Mexican restaurant Margarita’s, Mr Andy Yap, 47, which opened in July, says his business has remained consistent. He does not see the increase in F&B players as a bad thing.

He says: ‘Should customers not be able to secure seats at another restaurant and if we have vacant tables, there’s a chance they might come over.’

Older players are not so sanguine.

Mr Thomas Teo, in his 60s, managing director of the five-year-old Wine Network, says his business has ‘reached a plateau in the last 12 months’ due to competition. To stay ahead of the game, he has expanded the wine list by some 30 per cent to around 200 labels.

He says: ‘We were one of the pioneers who started the new range of F&B activities here. People soon caught on to the Village as an ideal place for an F&B hub and now, there’s a hive of activity.’

He says the challenge for existing operators would be ‘reinvention to stay relevant to customer needs’.

Over at Oosh, for example, which opened last year, a new brunch menu is being launched today.

Its marketing manager, Mr Lee Kian Seng, 30, says part of the restaurant’s business development plan has always been to introduce new offerings at different stages of its growth.

The new kids on the block, however, believe in the lasting allure of Tanglin Village as a hip hot spot.

Mr Ernest Ng, 52, owner of the new microbrewery Red Dot BrewHouse, slated to open in Dempsey Hill Green at the end of next month, says: ‘Unlike Holland Village, which is largely a nightlife establishment, Tanglin Village has a good mix of tenants that draw all-day traffic to the area. This makes it a lifestyle destination.’

Freelance F&B consultant, Mr Vincent Gabriel, 66, says the area has built for itself a reputation as an F&B enclave with good food and ambience and its proximity to the city is a definite plus.

‘But it needs to watch out for the traffic congestion in the area. Insufficient parking can really put people off and cause the Village to become a victim of its own success.’

En Bloc Fever Catches On In HUDC Estates

Source : The Sunday Times, Nov 18, 2007

Shunfu Ville, Eunosville, Serangoon North residents trying to go private to enable collective sales.

THE collective sale fever that has swept through condominiums has spread to three HUDC estates.

Residents in Shunfu Ville, Eunosville and Serangoon North are trying to privatise their estates so that they can sell their flats to private developers for a premium in collective sales.

These HUDC flats, which come with a 99-year lease, were developed in the 1970s and 1980s for people who did not qualify for HDB flats but could not afford private apartments.

In privatisation, the residents essentially pay the HDB to take over the ownership of common property such as carparks and landscaped areas. They also take over the management of the estate from town councils.

Owners pay about $25,000 to $30,000 each for privatisation. This covers the cost of common property that has been transferred to owners, legal costs, survey and other processing fees, all of which can be paid using their Central Provident Fund savings.

At least 75 per cent of the owners must agree to privatisation. Of the original 18 HUDC estates in Singapore, 11 have already been fully privatised. The latest was Laguna Park in Marine Parade in July.

For the 358-unit Shunfu estate, this is its third attempt at privatisation. The first try in 2001 failed because only half the residents were for the idea.

In July this year, the residents tried to speed things up by launching a privatisation and collective sale exercise at the same time. They appointed Knight Frank as the marketing agent and even got a developer willing to foot the privatisation fees.

But HDB put a stop to their efforts, saying the estate must first attain privatisation before attempting any collective sale, said Shunfu’s pro tem committee chairman Philip Liau.

Thanks to talk of a collective sale, a 1,700 sq ft flat in the estate was sold for $850,000 this month - $200,000 more than the average price before. Some residents hope to receive up to $1.2 million for their flats in a collective sale.

At Eunosville - where many residents of the 10-block estate are retirees - getting owners to part with $30,000 for the privatisation fee can be difficult.

To overcome this, some residents have offered to help them apply for a bank loan.
Retired nurse Maznah Ahmad, 68, said: ‘They said I can pay back the bank after I get my en bloc money. But what if there is no en bloc?’

She and her husband, a 70-year-old retired teacher, have been living in their 1,700 sq ft maisonette for 20 years. The couple plan to transfer ownership of their home to their son, who will then pay the privatisation fee from his CPF savings.

Eunosville’s pro tem committee chairman Suhaimi Mustapha told The Sunday Times yesterday that the panel has almost secured the 75 per cent vote needed.

Serangoon North’s pro tem committee declined comment, saying its privatisation efforts are still in the early stages.

Over at Neptune Court in Marina Parade, residents are also trying to privatise their 752-unit estate, which is built on land owned by the Finance Ministry, not HDB.

A committee of residents is in talks with the ministry.

Traits A Good Property Investment Should Have

Source : The Sunday Times, Nov 18, 2007

IT’S important to keep this in mind: It’s easy to get into properties, but very difficult and costly to get out.

Hence you must get it right the first time and every time. Try to meet as many of the following criteria as you possibly can.

Buy in high-growth areas

These places experience traffic congestion. In many cases, people are forced to relocate closer to their places of work to cut down on travelling time and travelling expenses.

Hence, the demand for such properties is high. Given the limited land supply in choice locations, there will always be upward pressure on prices for these properties.

Buy 10 to 20 per cent below market

You must make money going into properties. The way to do it is to master property negotiating skills and buy from motivated sellers at 10 to 20 per cent lower than the market.

This is especially important when you are buying with the intention to keep forever. If you are planning to sell some time in future, it is still important to buy below market as doing so will ensure that you have made money at the point of purchase.
Buy properties facing the right direction

In a hot tropical country that has 10 to 12 hours of sunshine every day, properties facing the setting sun tend to get very hot after 2pm.

Properties that directly face the setting sun are priced 10 to 20 per cent lower than those facing the morning sun.

Besides properties facing the east, you should also consider north- or south-facing properties as the potential heat impact would be minimal.

Buy properties facing greenery or water

These properties will command a slight premium over others. It is more soothing to face nature in the form of parks and lakes. You will find it windier and cooler too thanks to the open spaces.

Buy corner units if you have the budget

With corner units, you will have much more flexibility than with intermediate units.

For landed properties, you will have far more options with regard to renovations, rebuilding your house and so on.

Excerpted from Milan Doshi’s How You Can Become A Multi Millionaire Real Estate Investor, published by Achievers Resource Centre.