SINGAPORE – A property developer is building a luxury condominium in Geylang around two terraced houses after their owners refused to sell their freehold properties.
When the NoMa condominium in Guillemard Road is completed in 2023, one of the two houses will be hemmed in on three sides by the 50-unit development. The other will be wedged between NoMa and the existing La Brisa condominium along Lorong 28 Geylang.
The owners of the two houses will find themselves in a situation similar to that of the elderly widower in the animated film Up who refuses to move from the family home as high-rise buildings come up around the neighbourhood.
In Geylang, property developer Macly Group wanted to acquire all seven two-storey terraced houses in the vicinity to build the freehold project.
But it managed to secure only five of them, reportedly for a sum of about $20.55 million, a few years ago. The five freehold properties – 331, 333, 335 and 339 Guillemard Road and 56 Lorong 28 Geylang – sit on a total land area of 12,839 sq ft.
Macly Group, which calls itself a pioneer in the “shoebox apartment” field in Singapore, told The Sunday Times that it had initially planned for a slightly larger project.
If it had secured all seven properties in the cluster, the company could have offered more units in NoMa condominium.
When the owners of the two holdouts – 337 Guillemard Road and 54 Lorong 28 Geylang – refused to sell, the developer worked closely with the architects to design three distinct blocks – North, East and West – around the unusual site. The blocks have their own gate access and lifts.
“This allowed us to turn something seemingly negative into a (unique selling proposition),” Macly Group said, adding that the design plans “changed quite drastically”.
The property developer decided to push ahead with the project launch, believing that NoMa’s design would appeal to buyers.
As of Friday afternoon, 46 of 50 units have been snapped up. Prices range from about $700,000 for a one-bedroom unit to around $2 million for a four-bedroom one.
When this reporter visited the Guillemard Road house on Thursday, a man in it declined to be interviewed.
The property is a Buddhist prayer hall open only to the owner’s family and friends, said Shin Min Daily News, which quoted a caretaker as saying she did not know why the owner did not want to sell it.
At the Lorong 28 Geylang property, a middle-aged man residing there asked for his privacy to be respected.
“If my neighbours want to sell their homes, that’s their decision,” he said, disclosing that he had lived in the house for many years.
He added: “Where can you get such a house in a good location?”
The man also noted that several years ago, he had refused to sell his property to the developer that later built the next-door La Brisa condominium.
The open area in front of his two-storey house, which is a long rectangular piece of land, has been turned into a garden in which he keeps birds and fish. The rear opens into a back alley.
The landed property at Lorong 28 Geylang can fetch at least $4 million.
A quick check around the area shows it is a mish-mash of run-down terraced houses and small modern condo developments offering shoebox units.
Despite the construction work around the two terrace houses, the occupants did not seem bothered by the noise or the presence of workers and heavy vehicles at their doorsteps.
When The Sunday Times visited the site last week, the roofs of both holdouts had sound barrier sheets on them.
The one facing Guillemard Road, in particular, stood awkwardly in the middle of the construction site with hoardings enveloping it on three sides. The other five houses have been torn down.
NoMa condominium – which consists of two five-storey blocks and another with eight-storeys – will have one-, two- and four-bedroom units.
When asked if it will eventually offer a better price to acquire the two houses around NoMa, Macly Group said: “No, as our current plans are approved and sold to buyers. We are proceeding as per status quo.”
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