Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Living the high life in the city


The Straits Times
Monday, Nov 12, 2012


NOTHING is quite like a mere five-minute commute between home and work.

In fact, the idea of eliminating the frustrating exercise of travelling into the Central Business District (CBD) every morning was so attractive to banker Neil Mann that he decided it would be worth downsizing to live within the city itself.

Since May last year, Mr Mann, 31, has been living at One Shenton, the luxury high-rise condominium in Shenton Way.

He pays the same monthly rent, $4,800 for his 950 sq ft bachelor pad, as he did for his previous 1,200 sq ft apartment in Dover.

Mr Mann has few complaints.

"I enjoy living here. Of course there's a premium to pay for such a central and exclusive location and you get less space for your dollar, but you get a huge amount of convenience in return," he said. "I live on the 35th floor and there is an L-shaped balcony. I enjoy the view every morning." He splits his working time between One Raffles Quay, just a five-minute walk away, and Suntec City.

His company provides a shuttle bus service between the two buildings so his commute is hassle-free, he added.

A big bonus is his close proximity to his favourite restaurants and pubs at Boat Quay, Duxton Hill, Club Street and Chinatown.

The concept of "city living" is not new to Singapore, as there used to be a lot of residential shophouses and bungalows in the area before most were torn down to make way for the CBD, noted International Property Advisor chief executive Ku Swee Yong.

But this current form of city living - luxury skyscraper condominiums with small units targeted mainly at young professionals and expatriates - was introduced to Singapore only about a decade ago with the launch of Icon in Tanjong Pagar in 2003.

The project sold well for an untested market, said Chesterton International's head of research and consultancy, Mr Colin Tan.

There are now between 3,000 and 3,500 residential apartments in the CBD. Another 3,400 will likely be added to this pool by 2018, property consultancy CBRE said in an August report.
The re-introduction of homes into the CBD was meant to liven up the area and give retailers the opportunity to do business even on weekends, said Mr Tan. "It's still not quite there. In the city itself, it's still quite dark at night as there is no al fresco dining in a big way," he noted.

The refurbishment of the DBS building into a mixed development with retail and dining outlets will help inject more life into the area, although this is still some years away, he added.

There are some niggling complaints. "There's a supermarket at the Marina Bay Financial Centre and one at China Square but they're quite small," Mr Mann said. The apartment also gets a lot of dust drifting in from the ongoing construction of a second tower at Asia Square next door and the noise can be a bother at times.



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