Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Big and beautiful Punggol

Transformed estate may have 35,000 flats, about as many as Toa Payoh

PUNGGOL is set to become as big as Toa Payoh.

The remaking of the coastal town is on track, and the crown jewel of the estate, the first waterfront public housing development in the country, will be launched for sale next week.

Giving an update on the makeover yesterday at a Housing Board exhibition, Senior Minister of State for National Development Grace Fu said that by 2015, there could be 35,000 flats in the estate, up from the current 18,000 residential units already built. This is on a par with the number of homes in Toa Payoh, based on HDB's annual report last year.

Jointly designed by international architectural firm Group8asia and local firm Aedas, the first batch of Punggol waterfront flats will sport solar panels and rooftop gardens, among other green initiatives.

The area will also soon welcome a new town centre, where the first mixed commercial and residential development site will be launched in the second half of this year.

A 4.2km waterway running through the heart of the neighbourhood, that connects Sungei Punggol and Sungei Serangoon, is also estimated for completion by the end of the year.

Adding a little touch of Punggol's seafaring past, parts of the waterway and promenade will feature sandy coasts.

Other highlights include a sports activities area and horse riding centre that will be up and running by the year end.

Ms Fu said the array of facilities on offer makes the estate part of 'a premium housing project that targets a niche group of buyers who are prepared to pay more for its signature attributes'.

When asked about the prices of such luxury public housing, an HDB spokesman said that prices will be revealed only during next week's launch.

But realtor PropNex told The Straits Times that the first batch of waterfront flats would, on average, probably fetch around $350,000 for a four-room flat and $400,000 for a five-room flat.

These figures are based on estimates without information on the range of flat sizes, but taking into consideration the various views corresponding to unit location. According to the designs, about 80 per cent of the flats in the first phase of the project will command waterfront views.

PropNex's analysis found that these prices are still lower than the median re-sale price tags for Punggol flats, which currently stand at $369,000 for a four-room flat and $430,000 for a five-roomer, according to data from the first quarter of this year.

One home buyer keen to take to Punggol's waterways is Mr Wu Da Wu, 35, who took a day off work to view yesterday's exhibition.

'It looks great, and with the surrounding water, it's very soothing - I wouldn't mind paying a little more for a home that is different from anywhere else at this price.'

Speaking of how the Punggol project is changing the face of Singapore's housing estates, Ms Fu said: 'They mark an important milestone in HDB's town planning and the evolution of public housing design.

Source: Straits Times, 23 Jun 2010

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