All set for makeover

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MANY people living and working in sleepy Kampong Bugis are looking forward to the area being transformed into a vibrant residential and lifestyle district as part of government makeover plans.

The prospect of more shops, restaurants and other facilities is proving appealing, especially as it could mean improved property values. "I'm delighted to hear such news, simply because I usually like to buy food near my place. So with the opening of these new places, I have more convenient access to food and leisure activities without travelling," said Mr Sean Liang, a resident of condominium Citylights in Lavender, which is nearby.

The local optimism stems from the Draft Master Plan 2013 released last week. It nominated Kampong Bugis, once home to the defunct Kallang Gas Works and a predominantly industrial estate, as a zone ripe for transformation.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has plans for about 4,000 new private homes as well as commercial developments and even an educational institution.

Development of the 18ha area bounded by Kallang Road and Crawford Street will get off the ground by 2016, it said.

The new projects will bring some added sparkle to an area that seems drab and neglected.

The Victoria Wholesale Centre and Hong Aik Industrial and Pico Creative buildings sit near residences such as The Riverine by The Park and Southbank. Budget hotels from the Fragrance group add to the mix.

Residents living nearby say they expect property values to benefit from the makeover. "This is good news to us as we own another property in Lavender besides Citylights," Mr Liang said. "With a rise in property value, we will be able to raise the rent of the place or even sell the other apartment at a higher price."

However, Knight Frank head of research and consultancy Alice Tan said it would take at least three to five years for any plans to materialise, and private homes are unlikely to register any marked price gains in the short term.

Prices of private condos within 1.5km of Kampong Bugis averaged about $1,355 per sq ft in the three months to Sept 30, she noted.

Ms Malina Tjhin, deputy general manager of business development at Pico Creative, said it will be refreshing for the place to become an urban district, instead of "an industrial area that people visit when they have business here".

Some residents who will move from Rochor Centre to Housing Board flats at Kallang Trivista in about three years welcomed the idea of more amenities in Kampong Bugis, which is a 15-minute walk from their new estate.

The Government announced in November 2011 that it would acquire Rochor Centre and offer its residents replacement homes in Kallang. Many residents opposed it, saying that compensation for their flats was insufficient.

Ms Wendy Choo, who lives in a three-room flat at Rochor Centre, said moving does not seem so bad after all. "(The new developments) should make the area quite fun, I will definitely have a look."

Consultants say that Kampong Bugis could play a complementary role to the upcoming Sports Hub, due for completion next year.

"(People who visit it) need to be entertained, eat, party..." said Mr Colin Tan, head of research and consultancy at Suntec Real Estate Consultants. "If the Sports Hub is hugely successful, then we need property for supporting activities, be it hotels, serviced apartments, short-term lodging or food and beverage outlets."

Source: Straits Times, 30 Nov 2013