Sunday, May 16, 2010

Old estate names for new condos

Taxi drivers and postmen need not learn a new address.

At least three condo developers have decided to retain the names of the older estates that made way for the new projects.

They are Flamingo Valley in Siglap, The Minton in Lorong Ah Soo and Belle Vue Residences in Oxley Walk.

Flamingo Valley, once a sprawling estate of low-rise blocks, will be reborn as a 393-unit development.

In 2007, developer Frasers Centrepoint Homes bought the freehold plot via a collective deal for $194 million, or $415 per sq ft per plot ratio.

'By retaining the name, we're also preserving a part of Siglap's heritage. The name is exclusive and has been well-established in Siglap for more than 20 years,' said a Frasers spokesman.

The contours of the site inspired Frasers to adopt a rainforest valley concept, further complementing the name Flamingo Valley.

The estimated asking price for the new units on the sprawling 335,000 sq ft site is between $890 and $910 psf. Previews for select guests started last Friday.

Familiarity was also a reason given by developer Kheng Leong for opting for The Minton name.

'If the name and location are good, and many people are familiar with it, it helps to retain the nostalgic memories of a particular location,' said a spokesman.

The site used to house the Minton Rise Housing and Urban Development Company estate. Kheng Leong reportedly paid $209 million in a collective deal in January 2007 for the 500,000 sq ft, 99-year leasehold site. The new development will have 1,145 units, priced between $800 and $1,000 psf.

So just how important is a condominium's name?

Mr Steven Tan, executive director of residential at property agency Orange Tee, said: 'The name of a condo is like parents giving a name to their newborn.'

A name must evoke a mood, an image or a lifestyle aspiration, said industry players. If an old name already does that job, why not retain it?

'First, it helps to sell faster as buyers have more loyalty to the name. Secondly, there is a story to tell to the buyers about the past,' said Mr Tan.

'Lastly, it is getting tougher to think of a good name as many condo names have already been used.'

Some property buyers have looked askance at the choice of names adopted by some developers who go for the fancy, European-sounding and unpronounceable names.

Which may be why developer Wing Tai Holdings kept the name Belle Vue. 'We presently have Belle Vue Residences on Oxley Walk, for which wonderful memories of Belle Vue and its community heritage are being cherished,' said Ms Len Siew Lian, general manager of property at Wing Tai Holdings.

The freehold 250,000 sq ft site was acquired in 2005 for $227.28 million in a collective deal. The 176 units are expected to be finished at the end of this year, with prices slated to range from $1,900 to $2,100 psf.

Still, a name is only one consideration for most buyers. Mr Vincent Tang, 35, who is in the market for a home, said location and price are most crucial.

'The name doesn't matter to me at all; what's most important to me is that I know I am getting a good deal,' said the HR manager.

Source: Sunday Times, 16 May 2010

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