Friday, September 18, 2009

HDB flats linked to mall

IN A push to adapt to the modern needs of Singaporeans, a community library, air-conditioned bus interchange and even a shopping mall have been added to the list of public amenities at a new government housing estate.

The 40-storey integrated complex - located at the former Clementi bus interchange - will be the first of its kind for public housing here, said the Housing Board, which yesterday called for tenders for the sale of the complex's 25,000 sq m mall.

It will be ready by August next year, with 388 HDB flats - ranging from three-bedroom to five-bedroom units - on offer.

Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), the marketing agent appointed to sell the mall, is confident that it will be sold by the time the tender period ends at noon on Nov 10.

'Suburban malls have stable returns, even during poor economic years,' said Ms Stella Hoh, the company's head of investments, who added that JLL has already received a few queries from mall operators and private investors.

'The fact that it is linked to HDB flats and transport links means it has a direct catchment area, making it very attractive to buyers.'

The only other similar existing integrated project is Centrepoint Properties' Compass Heights in Sengkang, which combines a shopping mall, public transport hub and 536 private residential units.

Such mixed developments are a win-win, said experts: They help urban planners make efficient use of land and increase convenience for flat-dwellers.

'By building a mall between blocks of flats, it frees up more land for other uses like landscaping,' said Mr Colin Tan, director of research and consultancy at real estate consultancy Chesterton Suntec International. 'This is a model that urban planners have been pursuing. It is compact and efficient.'

'It is likely to be popular with city dwellers and should boost property prices in the area,' he added, pointing out that the model is likely to become more widespread.

HDB hopes the complex will 'provide a new buzz and add vibrancy to the Clementi Town Centre'.

Clementi, developed in the mid-1970s and home to about 140,000 people, is one of Singapore's oldest HDB estates.

One Clementi resident, pharmacist Ying Luo, is looking forward to its completion.

'There will be more amenities near my house,' said the 28-year-old mother of one who lives in a three-room flat. 'It will be exciting, especially for my son. We will go to the library for sure.'

However, when asked if she would take up residence at the complex, she said: 'It depends. It might be noisy living so near a large mall.'

Source, Straits Times, 18 Sep 2009

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