Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's a one-way ticket from Rochor to Kallang

Business Times: Wed, Nov 16
(SINGAPORE) The southern phase of the planned North-South Expressway (NSE) will involve the relocation of the largest ever number of Housing & Development Board flats for an infrastructure project, the Land Transport Authority revealed yesterday.

Some 567 flats in the four-block Rochor Centre will be demolished to make way for a 5.6-kilometre stretch of tunnel that will complete the 21.5-km NSE. The tunnel will run from Toa Payoh Rise to East Coast Parkway.

The total cost of the NSE might be higher than the estimated $7-8 billion which was announced earlier this year, the LTA also said yesterday. The final figure will depend on the outcome of engineering studies and various site conditions.

At Rochor Centre, 389 - or about 69 per cent - of the units are 3-room flats, with an area of 67 square metres each. There are 82 more 3-room flats but they are larger, at 82 sq m. And 91 - or about 16 per cent of the units - are 4-room flats, with an area of 92 sq m each.

An 810-unit HDB development will be built next to Kallang River by mid-2016 for the Rochor Centre residents. They will not have to vacate their old flats before construction of the new ones is complete. Residents will ballot for the unit of their choice and will be offered relocation benefits that are similar to that of the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme's (SERS).

As in SERS, residents will be compensated for their old flats based on the prevailing market value, taken as at yesterday. The price of their new flats will be the subsidised rate, also taken as at yesterday and comes with an additional discount of up to $15,000 for singles and $30,000 for joint singles and families for eligible purchasers of the new flats.

Also, compensation for 'reasonable expenses' will be made. While the compensation monies offered will not be in cash but used to offset the cost of the new home, anything left over will be returned in cash. The same benefits will be given to residents applying for a flat elsewhere.

The new development at Kallang is expected to have a mix of studio apartments, and 3-to-5-room flats. Owners of an existing 82 sq m 3-room flat, however, will have to opt for an 85 sq m 4-room flat at Kallang if they do not want to see a shrinkage in living space. This is because the largest three-room flat available at Kallang is 67 sq m.

Even then, estimated figures in a leaflet that residents were given yesterday showed that 'upgrading' to a 4-room flat with an extra three sq m of space might actually leave the average household in the black. (see table)

The final mix of flat sizes and types is 'subject to review', as it might change, depending on 'feedback from Rochor residents', HDB said yesterday.

Nanyang Pho Leng Building's lot will also be fully acquired, while the lease on Lee Ah Mooi Nursing Home will not be renewed when it expires in 2013.

Twenty-one private properties will be partially affected, such as Novena Ville and 368 Thomson. They correspond to a lot number from which 29.9 sq m and 239.1 sq m of land have been listed as gazetted for acquisition, respectively. BT understands that the land involved will be grass verges or driveways and the buildings themselves will not be affected.

'For Novena Ville, (this might) bring the road nearer to the shopfront. It might create even better exposure to the shopfront, but for al fresco food and beverage outlets, there might be more noise implications,' said Donald Han, managing director at Cushman & Wakefield.

St Joseph's Institution International will see 4,654.3 sq m of its land gazetted for the NSE, one of the largest parcels of partially affected land listed.

The total amount of land acquired for the NSE's southern phase stands at 24,700 sq m. The northern phase, announced in January, involved acquiring 55,800 sq m of land.

The NSE, expected to open by 2020, will connect north-south towns such as Woodlands, Sembawang and Yishun with the city centre. There will be 16 in-ramps and 17 out-ramps in total.

'The immediate impact (on property prices) is probably minimal for the time being. Nearer to completion, there could be a 5-10 per cent increase in values. It will not be as distinct as the kind of pricing for the opening of the North East MRT line or the Circle Line. because MRT stations tend to be a bit more specific when providing access and convenience to residents,' said Mr Han.

Advance works on the NSE will start from 2013 and major construction works will start in 2015.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd.

Team Marshe
Martin Koh/ Sherry Tang
9383-3992/ 9844-4400

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