• Christopher Chitty
  • 28 December 2015

One Development Pte Ltd is a new comer to the property industry but in the short time it has been active, the company has launched and fully sold out #1 Loft, its first property.

Project Name: #1 Suites

Address: 1 Lorong 20, Geylang

Type: Condominium

Site area: Approx. 1,857.9 sqft

Tenure: Freehold

District: 14

Configuration: 112 units in one block of 8 + 1 storeys

Unit types: 1-bedroom

1-bedroom + study

Parking lots: 115 (incl. 3 handicap lots)

Expected TOP: Dec 2018

Project Details

All the units are duplexes but they’re also single bedrooms. Essentially, the developer split the vertical space between the living room/kitchen and the bedroom and connected them with a staircase.

#1 Suites Artist Impression (sources: sales brochure)

#1 Suites Artist Impression (sources: sales brochure)

The two choices are 1-bedroom or 1-bedroom + study. There are penthouse units which are slightly bigger but it just means a slightly bigger balcony, bedroom or living room.

It’s not exactly conducive for a family of more than three and even then, you’ll need to have some renovation done to turn the living room area into another bedroom. It is, however, sufficient for a single homeowner or a newly married couple.

The living area is a sequence of home sections rolled into one. From the main door, you have the kitchen in front of you and the staircase leading to the bedroom opposite it. The solid surface counter top and cabinets are all built in and the induction stove and hood are provided.

The microwave oven, mini-fridge and washer/dryer are also given which, for a small development, is a nice thing to do. After that is the common bathroom. It is reasonably big which makes the installation of the vanity cabinet and sink on the outside seem a little less necessary.

It’s likely designed this way with the idea that landlords would partition the living room off to maximise rent-ability by renting out to multiple individuals.

Source: Sales brochure (Image resized to fit. Not representative of actual sizing)

Source: Sales brochure (Image resized to fit. Not representative of actual sizing)

The living room is about the same size as a regular common bedroom, without the partitions. It has its own balcony with foldable doors that come with the units so you don’t have to install your own privacy screens.

The furnishing provided is functional, and builder-grade.

The only form of quality you get are from the floors and steps; they’re compressed marble. Good thing is that even the master bathroom is quite large though the developer’s strange layout planning rears its ugly head again when you look at the ‘wet area’.

Despite having adequate usable space, the ‘wet area’ is contained in a tiny square, between the toilet and the vanity cabinet with sliding glass doors that make you feel like you’re showering in a tiny glass cube with little room to move around.

Why the developer opted to make such poor use of the available space is up to interpretation. It is a jarring inclusion, one that may push owners toward refitting the bathrooms just to resolve this slight lapse in judgement.

Units are built as duplexes to maximize vertical space. On paper, the sizes might seem bigger but because of its layout, it actually feels smaller when one is standing in the unit.

 Source: Sales brochure (Image resized to fit. Not representative of actual sizing)

Source: Sales brochure (Image resized to fit. Not representative of actual sizing or aesthetic)

A good contractor can turn this into an attractive home because the seeds for good aesthetics are there. What you get with the unit is just not very well executed. It’s definitely adequate if one intends to rent it out, but will require some effort and money if you’ve bought the place for owner-occupancy.

The bedroom is reasonably spacious and some people would love the idea of having a balcony. Furthermore, all the units’ balconies (except for penthouses) are sheltered from the rain with their own privacy screens. This means the balcony can be used as a lounge or small study area without the fear of being directly exposed to rain or sun.

The queen size bed displayed in the showunit fits quite comfortably too but a super single will give you considerably more space to play around with. Only issue is having to drag the mattress and bed frame up a long flight of steps. It would be advisable for the bed to be the first thing to enter the bedroom.

While it does show some questionable choices, it’s certainly not a bad project as evidenced by sales transactions. Over 70% have been sold leaving the more expensive, pool-facing units priced at $725K onwards.

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Getting there and its surroundings: #1 Suites is currently the most prominent structure upon entering Geylang Lorong 20.

The scaffolding is covered in blue tarpaulin which makes it visible from connecting Lorong 23.

#1 Suites Condo from Lorong 23

#1 Suites Condo from Lorong 23

The plotted distance from Aljunied MRT station to the actual site is about 600m and it will take you roughly ten minutes of walking to get there.

Take Exit B from Aljunied MRT station and walk straight down the path toward the main road. There will be a showflat on your right. Cross the road, then head right, past the traffic light and make a left turn into Lorong 23.

From there, walk straight and make a right toward the traffic stop in front of Old Ponggol International Seafood. The Hokkien Mee is well-known for being exceptionally delicious though that’s a result of the copious amounts of lard used to achieve the taste.

Old Ponggol International Seafood

Old Ponggol International Seafood

As the tallest structure closest to the road, #1 Suites is immediately visible. On paper, it has a TOP date of 2018 but it may indeed be completed as soon as next year.

Progress is fast, but of course for a smaller project, this is expected.

At any hour, there’s usually a lot of activity at Geylang. Traffic is usually always high and it gets much worse during peak periods. Most of this stems from on-street parking with people cutting in and out of lanes or getting stuck behind a car waiting to park or leave.

#1 Suites

#1 Suites

Furthermore, Geylang is rife with jaywalkers and is perhaps second only to Little India.

Much of Singapore’s vaunted excellent traffic system less apparent here as you’d frequently see people jay-walking, sometimes even casually through heavy traffic. Geylang has a very distinct vibe, one of old Singapore, less reverent toward its harsh rules.

Geylang will rub different people in different ways but one thing is for certain should you choose this district as a home; you’ll never run out of places to eat.

Already, there is a coffee shop diagonally across from the development not more than 60 seconds away. Next to that coffee shop is a hardware store.

Hawker centre at Lorong 20, next to #1 Suites

Hawker centre at Lorong 20, next to #1 Suites

Walk down along the main road and you’ll find even more places to eat, grocery stores, shops, bars, KTV lounges and a variety of other things.

Geylang is many things, but boring is not one of them. There’s just so much to see and do here. Schools, however, are few with the closest one being Geylang Methodist Primary and Secondary. Both are next to Aljunied MRT station and closest to Tre Residences.

It’s hardly a deal breaker though since along Lorong 20 there are several brothel houses and budget hotels. It’s not really the best place for schools to be.

But this is an inevitable aspect of living in Geylang. Due to regulations however, things are mostly contained within the houses so other than people walking from place to place, there’s little street propositioning going on- at least during the day. Interested buyers should visit at different times of the day just to get a sense of what it may be like to live around the area.

Despite upcoming plans for gentrification, Geylang is admittedly not the best place for to raise an impressionable child in for the moment.

As for the showflat, it is close by, situated along Lorong 24 instead. It’s easy to get there and will take you roughly five minutes of walking minus waiting time at the traffic stop.

Lorong 20 toward Guillemard Road

Lorong 20 toward Guillemard Road

Walk past the #1 Suites site and follow the path. You’ll pass by several hotels, the most prominent being Hotel 81, and the assortment of brothel houses that line the street along the way.

One you reach the end of the street and are facing Guillemard Road, make a left, and walk down until you come to another traffic junction. In front of you, will be Guillemard Suites.

Guillemard Suites next to #1 Suites showflat

Guillemard Suites next to #1 Suites showflat

The show flat is between Guillemard Suites and the Esso Petrol Station. Do call the agent and make an appointment if you wish to go down. Sometimes, the showflat might be closed for one reason or another.

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When agents or developers say that Geylang is a fantastic place to live, many people would smirk at that, believing otherwise. As a red-light district, this negative connotation is expected but it does not change the very simple fact that Geylang really is a fantastic place to live.

#1 Suites unit prices are some of the lowest on the island and while it is considered still a bit high for a red-light district, the simple fact is the developer will need to price it in such a way so they can at least break even and make some profit.

With that said, Geylang is a goldmine and with #1 Suites being a freehold development, there really is a lot of opportunity to rent out at good prices, even if you are picky with the type of person you’re renting to. Foreigners are welcomed either as buyers or renters.

If you’re not, then #1 Suites allows you to – through your own renovation – turn the duplex into a two bedroom apartment. With median rental going at about $ $2,000 per month, converting the duplex into 2-bedrooms allows you to charge about $1,500 per person. Bigger units may allow for more space for three persons which in turn, increases your monthly yield beyond the expected median.

Source: PropertyGuru, URA

Source: PropertyGuru, URA


Using rental transactions from Treasures @ G20 as a benchmark, a 420 sqft unit was last at a median monthly rate of $2,000 in late 2015. #1 Suites is bigger with a slightly better orientation than Treasures so its rent per month is likely to be higher than $2,000.

For now, a 560 sqft unit in #1 Suites has a median purchase price of $636,398. If the landlord charges $2,000 per month for one year lease, that is $24,000 per month (from one tenant). Rental yield when calculated against the median transacted price comes up to 3.8%.

Add to the fact that units are being sold at average psf of $1,143 for a 1-bedroom + study unit, and purchasing a unit at #1 Suites is equivalent to buying low, selling high at the stock markets.

However, most the lowest priced units have already been snapped up, leaving the units with the ‘better facing’, i.e., pool facing units toward Lorong 20 available. These are priced at a higher premium of $750K and above.

#1 Suites closest competitor is next door Treasures @ G20. Units there start smaller, at 420 sqft with a median psf of $1,151, though average transacted prices for this unit size is $483K against #1 Suites’ $640K.

The ownership of Treasures however has been passed to Citibank, which took over after the developer went bankrupt. Units transacted so far at Treasures range from as low as $320K to highest $600K.

However, Treasures @ G20 directly overlooks the stretch of brothel houses on the other side of the narrow Lorong 20 while #1 Suites is closer to the main road and the coffee shops, which provides some distance from such activities.

Treasures @ G20 is about to TOP and has achieved full occupancy according to URA. Those who wish to purchase that project will have to do so through “flippers” who are likely to price their Sellers Stamp Duty in, driving prices up. In comparison, primary sales at #1 Suites is a perfectly viable option. Its duplex units do present more opportunity for rental.

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A vice grip…

Geylang is proof that despite being a well-connected district close to places like Beach Road and the Shenton Way stretch, a bad reputation is enough to damage it.

And it is unfair to talk about Geylang without mentioning this reputation. As a district, it is defined by brothels, gangs and all the other negative aspects that come with.

But it has changed much, since taking over as the red-light district from Chinatown about a hundred years ago. Nowadays, it’s not nearly as dangerous to wander the streets as criminal activity, particularly gangs, have faded deeper into the shadows where they operate more congenially to stay out of the crosshairs of the authorities.

The even numbered lorongs (streets) however ply their trade as ever, through licensed brothel houses that adhere to tight regulations around sex work.

But this is during the day. At night, when the sun sets and the lorongs are palely illuminated by weak streetlights, Geylang’s fragile veneer falls apart to reveal its true, uncensored self.

The government has plans to redevelop this district, much like what was done with Clarke Quay and to an extent, Chinatown. But Geylang is a complicated maze of long streets and dark alleyways that is characteristically different from anywhere else in Singapore.

Freehold condominiums have cropped up in recent years; jarring structures of modern designs occupying small land spaces that overlook the old Singapore architecture of yore. Property agents will constantly hype Geylang as a place about to be revitalised and this is true, seeing as how parts of this district have been quietly re-zoned earlier this year.

#1 Suites showflat

#1 Suites showflat

Geylang is further targeted for massive redevelopment as the process of gentrification takes place over a number of years.

Strip away the prostitution and decadence and you’re left with a district that is historical and vibrant. Furthermore, being connected with various other areas like Paya Lebar, Bugis, Kallang, Dakota and Aljunied, makes Geylang a fount of untapped potential.

Geylang is at the epicentre of prominent districts. Staying here will positively affect your travel time, minimising it significantly if you travel to and fro places like Orchard.

Developers understand this even if the majority of the populace cannot accept the district as a worthwhile place to live in, right now. But those that have foresight, know that a country like Singapore, with a projected 10 million people expected to occupy our incredibly small island, places like Geylang cannot remain stagnant or the way it is now, for long.

Chickens, eggs and birds…

To most buyers, the developer might seem unfamiliar and mysterious. What seems to be known, is that, The One Development Pte Ltd has shown a predilection for the number one. It is in their name and it is the first thing you see when you encounter their projects; #1 Loft and #1 Suites.

With that said, One Development Pte Ltd is in actual fact a subsidiary of SL Cheong’s Company which developed Oxley Residences and Robinson Suites.

Its first development in the area, #1 Lofts has been fully sold with little fanfare. The developer so far has a good record for delivering projects in a timely fashion.

But #1 Suites is certainly not for everyone. On one hand, it has potential. Its lower quantum makes it easier to buy and the decent rental yield implies cash in pocket.

However, what most people do not realise is that unlike other districts, regular commercial banks like UOB and OCBC have a quota to loan for mortgages in Geylang. This quota is almost always achieved very early in the fiscal year which means interested parties will need to approach financial institutions like Hong Leong to get a loan.

Doing so incurs higher interest rate which would add to the net yields if you rent out. It also makes the lower quantum less attractive in an infamous district. So while it’s certainly possible to buy, you might end up paying more.

Finances aside, #1 Suites has two other negatives that are hard to resolve. Firstly, its layout is quite impractical but when the developer builds specifically to cater to a type of landlord that will partition the unit to rent out to multiple people, then this is what you get.

Secondly, the carpark is motorized, which means waiting to get your car out during morning rush with a narrow tight street waiting will lead to some frustration.

Yet, the unit shown is by no means unattractive and some smart interior designing can actually affect the home positively. Its location while infamous is also pretty great, with lots of amenities within a stone’s throw. Being close to Aljunied MRT station is a huge plus.

Whether all of this is worth it, given that a buyer is unlikely to get cheaper financing, is a choice ultimately left up to them.





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Eric Wong

Christopher Chitty

"I read, I write, I lift. I am content"