From ‘Nassim road bungalow up for sale – at record $300m’ article by Esther Teo, 10 April 2013, ST
A LOCAL property tycoon is asking for up to $300 million for his Nassim Road bungalow – an astonishing amount that would easily make a record sale in Singapore. Owned by Mr Cheng Wai Keung, the chairman of listed developer Wing Tai Holdings, the two-storey home sits on a plum 85,000 sq ft elevated site in one of Singapore’s most exclusive enclaves.
…If it goes through, it would clearly be the biggest residential sale ever made here. Singapore’s largest bungalow transaction so far is believed to be a $87.5 million sale of a 291,000 sq ft parcel at Swettenham Road off Holland Road. It was made in an asset swop deal between Singapore Press Holdings and construction firm Lum Chang in 2001.
A sale price of $250 million to $300 million for the Cheng house would also eclipse what is believed to be the most expensive good-class bungalow sale made in the Nassim Road area in terms of psf price – a $47.8 million sale of a 23,922 sq ft site that worked out to $2,000 psf.
…A JLL survey found that with most other large plots on Nassim Road having been sub-divided, there are only five other freehold parcels on the road that have a land area of 80,000 sq ft or more now. Two are understood to be owned by the governments of Britain and Russia, and one by Brunei’s royal family.
The property owned by a member of the Brunei royal family, Arwaa Mansion (46B and 48 Nassim Road), was once touted as Singapore’s most expensive house back in 2008. At 110,000 sq feet, that works out to be roughly the area of 92 five-room flats combined. It was also the asset in contention amidst a legal tussle between Prince Jefri Bolkiah and BIA, his country’s investment agency. The man himself has been reported to use the house only up till 2000, and according to a Vanity Fair feature, appears to be somewhat of a notorious playboy who named one of his yachts ‘TITS’.
In 2006, Agus Anwar, an Indonesian businessman, bought a GCB for $28 million through his company Ridout Residence. Like the case of the Bruneian prince, he too was caught in a legal battle. As if it’s not enough that we’re allowing the mega-rich to eat up as much precious space as they want to while they gallivant elsewhere, it’s also curious how such ‘good class bungalows’ can belong to jetsetting multimillionaire foreigners when technically they should only be owned by Singaporeans or Singaporean PRs. Like Jet Li’s $20 million Binjai Rise GCB for instance, which when sold (if not already) could earn him the paycheck equivalent of at least 2 forgettable Expendables sequels.
So here we have, on elite real estate, 92 HDB flats’ worth of unoccupied space holding nothing but a sleazy princes’ extravagances or serving as a trophy in some rich celebrity’s real-life Monopoly game. Even those rare few Singaporeans who buy such houses mostly hold on to them as long-term investments. The original intention when the GCB zones were set aside in 1980 was to ‘retain their natural configuration and vegetation’ and ‘preserve such good environmental conditions’ in Singapore, nevermind if nobody actually stays in them. Meanwhile, outside these lush reservations where only rich folk can hold their posh champagne tea parties in, we’re decimating green spaces and cemeteries for condo developments, with many locals still struggling to find a decent home, ‘good-class’ or low-class. Well there’s always the way cheaper $2 million EC to settle for then.