City Gate Review



  • Christopher Chitty
  • 6 November 2015

Bayfront Ventures Pte. Ltd comprises of Fragrance Group and World Class Land (WCL) and is a commercial and residential development company in Singapore.

Project Name: City Gate

Address: 371 Beach Road

Developer: Fragrance Group & World Class Land (Bayfront Ventures Pte Ltd)

Type: Condominium

Tenure: 99 years leasehold as of 25th April 2014

District: D07

Configuration: 311 Residential (25 stories) & 188 Retail units (3-storey commercial podium)

Residential Unit type: 43 1-bedroom units (431 – 452 sqft)

42 2-bedroom units (560 – 570 sqft)

174 2-bedroom DK (Dual Key) units (678 – 807 sqft)

44 3-bedroom DK units (904 – 915 sqft)

1 1-bedroom penthouse (484 sqft)

4 3-bedroom penthouses (807 – 1,464 sqft)

3 4-bedroom penthouses (1,604 – 1,819 sqft)

Commercial Unit type: 157 shops (280 – 721 sqft)

29 restaurants (452 – 1,044 sqft)

1 food court (4,693 sqft)

1 supermarket (3,735 sqft)

Parking lots: 315 (Residential)

113 (commercial with 3 loading bays & 3-storey Podium carpark)

Expected TOP: 30th June 2020

Expected legal completion: 31st Oct 2022

Project Details

Showroom: All aspects of the unit are shown; the kitchen, bathroom, living room, master bedroom, dining room and bedroom/study room.

City Gate showroom dual-key setup

City Gate showroom dual-key setup

Several appliances come with the purchase of a unit and these are:

  • Washing Machine w/ dryer, Microwave oven by Bosh
  • Fridge, induction cooker and hob by Gaggenau
  • Shower items including rain shower by Steinberg
  • Wash basin and tap mixer by DURAVIT
  • Vanity counter, mirror

Other things to note are:

  • Kitchen top is solid surface
  • Bathroom wall and tiles are homogeneous
  • Bedroom floors are timber strips with skirting

Kitchen: The kitchen is often considered the heart of the home, so how it looks will affect the overall aesthetics of the unit.

City Gate units offers an open kitchen concept that sits within the living room. It’s a compact cooking area that takes into consideration the space it has to work with.

Open kitchen

Open kitchen

With all the necessary items, from fridge to cabinets occupying just one wall, it puts everything you need within reach. An open kitchen that shares space with the living room is almost a necessity with smaller units since partitions will make the units look cramped.

With a design like this, you get a more spacious setting. It’s convenient enough so you can grab a snack while watching TV or keep an eye on your kids as they’re playing in the living room while you’re cooking.

Bathroom: The master bathroom is compact but the space is also quite well-used. Bath-tubs won’t fit but the showering area has the regular shower arm and a rain shower.

The shower area is separated from the dry area with a glass shower screen. While small, there is sufficient space to move around without having to make yourself deliberately smaller to fit.

The glass door swings inward so it won’t obstruct the walking area when opened.

Bathroom

Bathroom

Wheel chair bound residents can roll into the dry area with ease as there is a comfortable amount of space to maneuver in.

It’s just the wet area that might require some additional fittings if there is indeed a handicapped resident in the premises. This can be done during your renovation process.

Bedroom: For the master bedroom, expect a cozy nook instead of a lavish sized room. This isn’t to suggest that the room is extremely small – it’s not. How big it is, is dependent on the size of the unit you purchased.

Bedroom

Bedroom

The type of bed you buy will also determine how much space you have. A king size bed can fit snugly in here but a queen would give you more room.

Mixed development: Living in a residential block with an integrated shopping mall does wonders for retail convenience but City Gate also offers a hefty array of facilities you can retreat to for relaxation.

The commercial areas start from B1 to the 2nd floor. The car park sits in between, at the 3rd to 5th floor while the residential units begin from the 7th to the 30th floor.

The facilities are on the 6th and 24th storey (called Sky Terraces).

The usual selections like gym, clubhouse, swimming pool and Jacuzzi are available. The 40m outdoor swimming pool is on the Grand Level.  Should you want to get a tan, there are sun loungers and sun decks by the pool. There’s even a pool bar, between the spa cove and spa jets.

The pool floor is filled with various other things like the hot stone grill, leisure pods, dining terrace, an outdoor fitness area and a reflexology garden – just a few that are available on the 6th floor.

The other facilities such as the sky gym, yoga deck, gourmet dining & teppanyaki grill and sky lounges are found at The Sky Club on the 24th storey.

View from Golden Mile Bridge of Concourse and City Gate site

View from Golden Mile Bridge of Concourse and City Gate site

The sea and city view units start from the 15th floor onwards.

As City Gate will likely be the closest and best option instead of venturing about 10 minutes by bus to Bugis during lunch hour, it’s anticipated to attract large crowds of office workers from the immediate area, including residents of neighboring Concourse Skyline.

The Concourse and Concourse Skyline

The Concourse and Concourse Skyline

Already City Gate is expected to have one major supermarket as well as a food court at the size of 3,735 and 4,693 sqft respectively in its commercial complex.

Additionally, there will be 29 restaurants ranging from 452 to 1,044 sqft and a 159 shops from the smaller 280 sqft to the bigger 721 sqft.

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Location

Etymology: Developed early in Singapore when it was a British colonial city, Beach Road is one of Singapore’s oldest roads.

It was once a coastal road that faced the sea, which was how it got its name.

Now, no trace of the sea remains as Beach Road and its surrounding areas have been transformed into a bustling commercial zone filled with office buildings, retail shops and of course, rows and rows of pubs and bars in the very popular, Kampong Glam.

Getting there: As Beach Road is quite centralized, there are several buses that travel through it. City Gate is sandwiched between two prominent roads – Kallang Road and Nicoll Highway.

Source: Streetdirectory

Source: Streetdirectory

Both head east, toward Marine Parade and Bedok. Kallang Road also connects to the PIE (Pan-Island Expressway).

Going south-east along Kallang Road and onto Victoria Street puts you in the direction of Bugis Junction, while going in the direction of Nicoll Highway brings you past Suntec City.

If you head straight from there or turn right at the intersection near the Esplanade, you either travel toward Harbourfront/VivoCity or City Hall/Dhoby Gaut/ Orchard respectively.

If you’re coming from the east coast by bus, like Marine Parade, you can stop at the bus stop at Nicoll Highway MRT station.

Directions from Nicoll Highway MRT station

Directions from Nicoll Highway MRT station

The Concourse is on the opposite side and Suntec City is the stop after. The buses that pass the Nicoll Highway bus stop are, 10, 14, 16, 70, 70M, 196 and 546.

For train, take the circle line (yellow) and head in the direction of Marina Bay to get to Nicoll Highway MRT station. If you’re coming from Marina Bay, then go in the direction of Serangoon to get to Nicoll Highway MRT station.

Upon leaving the station, go up the escalator/stairs leading to the overhead bridge on the ground level. The walk is about five minutes to City Gate. You will pass The Concourse on the left, and St. John Headquarters on the right.

Ground level of Keypoint Building

Ground level of Keypoint Building

Currently, the walkway is connected from the station to The Concourse although it does end on the side of the road where Keypoint Building is. Keypoint is directly on the right once you’re on ground level. The Concourse is on the left.

Walk straight once you disembark from the last step, turn right at the bend and walk a little bit further to get to the main doors to the show flat.

This is about a two minute walk, probably less. The show flat is expected to be available for viewing tentatively up to the end of 2015, when Keypoint’s lease expires and the building is demolished to prepare for the construction of City Gate.

City Gate showflat entrance

City Gate showflat entrance

Directly in front of the building and across the road is the entirety of Arab Street.

Schools: There are some schools in the vicinity, the closest being Stamford Primary School along Queen Street about 11 minutes away.

You can also take bus 16 from behind Skyline (across from Nicoll Highway MRT’s bus stop) to get to Broadrick Secondary School, Northlight Secondary and Tanjong Katong Girls School. The travel time is roughly 15 minutes, depending on traffic conditions.

The surroundings: There’s no question about the quality of the environment future residents of City Gate will be exposed to. Beach Road is a major attraction for tourists and locals.

When the sun sets, the bars and pubs along Arab Street throw their doors open and a stream of music, mostly from local bands performing live, flood the streets and alleyways. These alleyways are decked out with tables and chairs and on some nights, live soccer matches are projected onto the alleyways.

The bars and pubs are located between the alleys and away from the main street facing City Gate so the noise won’t reach the residential apartments.

Beach Road pubs

Beach Road pubs

Traversing the Pahang Street, Baghdad Street and Arab Street is full of fun little distractions. It is an upbeat and extremely vibrant neighborhood.

The place may feel like a maze, but there’s always something to look at. When City Gate is completed, it will reign over the area. Though close enough to walk to, City Gate is of a good distance away from Arab Street. It’s within sight of this prominent area but out of auditory range.

Kampong Glam is a good place for textile and fabric shopping, though that can be a little pricey. Do your due diligence when shopping before making a commitment. More conventional and varied shopping options including cinemas are a 15 minute bus ride away at Bugis Junction and Bugis+.

Additionally, Sim Lim Square is about 10 to 15 minute walk from Bugis Junction and along Albert Street. It is a six storey building and its 151 stores filled to the brim with IT gadgets of all kinds. It’s most known as the place you go to buy a fully customized computer for a prices equal or cheaper than the ones sold at stores like Harvey Norman.

On days when you’d rather stay closer to home, Golden Mile Shopping Complex a five minute walk behind City Gate.

Bus stop behind City Gate in the direction of Golden Mile

Bus stop behind City Gate in the direction of Golden Mile

To get there, walk past the bus stop facing St John’s Headquarters at the back of City Gate and follow the path.

Very quickly, you’ll come to an overhead bridge on the right. Left of it is the Golden Mile food center. Across the road from that via the bridge is Golden Mile Shopping Complex.

The complex has a grocery store, shops that sell decent casual wear and several Thai food stalls and bars.

During the day it’s a nice enough place to grab a meal or grocery shop in but at night, that’s when the pubs and bars are in full swing.

Golden Mile Complex interior

Golden Mile Complex interior

If partying is not your cup of tea, then it’s best to avoid it in the evenings. However, Golden Mile is yet another cultural – albeit foreign – landmark in Singapore.

It should be experienced at least once. Additionally, if you want to embark on a weekend trip outside of Singapore, then Golden Mile has a wide selection of travel agencies that sell tickets for bus and coach services to Malaysia.

Golden Mile coach services to Malaysia

Golden Mile coach services to Malaysia

A random jaunt to Golden Mile is never complete without seeing a throng of people packing into buses for a late night venture across the Causeway.

Raffles Medical, a 24 hour clinic/hospital is along Victoria Street and is the closest medical center in the area. It’s a little further but once you know the shortcuts, walking there should take about 10 minutes.

It’s next to Golden Landmark Shopping Centre. From City Gate, you can walk through Pahang Street and Baghdad Street. Walking the straight path will take you to the end. Look out for DUO Residences across the road. Blue Jazz Café will be on your right when you step out of the alleyway from Baghdad Street.

Raffles Medical 10 minutes from City Gate

Raffles Medical 10 minutes from City Gate

Walk past the bars and the bus stop and you will come to a traffic junction. Straight ahead is Golden Landmark Shopping Centre but diagonally across from where you stand, will be Raffles Medical.

Other than a 24 hour clinic, it also has maternity wards that offer various delivery options for pregnant women.

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Analysis

Caveated transactions for City Gate at time of writing (Jul 2015) stands at 230, with about 262 units launched to date. Recorded transaction prices range from $780K to $3.36M, with over 85% of the transactions coming in at $1.5M or below (see Chart 1).

By conventional reckoning, City Gate is priced to sell, with most market watchers suggesting that the affordable sweet spot for most property buyers somewhere between $1M to $1.5M.

Sales Transactions

Source: PropertyGuru, URA

Source: PropertyGuru, URA

City Gate is also clearly priced against Duo Residences, another mixed development 500 meters away. Launched in late 2013, Duo Residences was priced at a premium, with its current overall median price at $2015 psf to City Gate’s $1833 psf.

Duo claims to command a premium based on a few factors: its proximity to not just one but two MRT lines; its luxury positioning; and, its confidence in future appreciation being a joint venture backed by the governments of Singapore and Malaysia.

As both City Gate and Duo Residences are geared towards investor-buyers with an eye towards renting to expatriate tenants, it would be helpful to look specifically at their one-bedroom units.

In general, for most projects, the smaller units tend to have a higher cost per square foot, because their smaller sizes reduce quantums, and at the same time increase returns for developers. City Gate’s 1-bedroom units have a median price of $1923 psf based on reported caveats, while Duo’s are priced higher at a median price of $2021 psf.

While the per square foot price difference is under five percent, the difference in actual price quantums for 1-bedrooms works out to be a lot more. Caveated transactions for 1-bedrooms at City Gate currently range from $780K to $1.08M, while Duo Residence’s studio, 1-bedroom, and 1-bedroom plus studies work range from $980K to $1.9M.

This difference stems from the sizing of the units. 1-bedrooms in Duo Residences are more generous in proportion, going up to over 700 sq ft, while City Gate’s dimensions are more modest, coming in at 500 sq ft or less.

World Class and Fragrance Group had to price and size City Gate differently from M+S’s Duo Residences primarily due to market conditions.

City Gate’s launch took place when the private residential market had seen transaction volumes tumble and prices decline due to the Singapore government’s efforts to stem rapidly rising prices in the real estate market, primarily through stamp duties and loan restrictions (the Total Debt Servicing Ratio).

With loan quantums reduced, buyers’ affordability dropped and developers had to price to their products to match this “new normal.” In terms of simple sale prices, City Gate definitely presents a more affordable value proposition.

Future Rental Potential

With City Gate and Duo both geared towards a tenant pool, we need to look at rental prices for the Bugis / Beach Road area as well. The current median rental price for District 7 (Bugis / Beach Road / Kampong Glam) is around $4.47 psf per month at time of writing, based on rental transaction for the past six quarters at time of writing.

At today’s rates, a 1-bedroom just under 500 sqft at City Gate would fetch around $2,600 to $2,700 a month after we factor in a 20% premium for its new build. With the median price of a 1-bedroom apartment around $843K, the annual gross rental yield at today’s rate would be approximately 3.2%.

If rental market conditions were to improve substantially by the time City Gate attains its Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP), a 1-bedroom could potentially fetch up to $3000. With that, gross rental yields would move up to around 3.5%

In comparison, the median unit size of a 1-bedroom at Duo Residences would be asking for approximately $3,000 already, at today’s rental rates, simply because of their larger sizes. Factor in a further 20% premium for being new, and asking rents could shoot up to $3,600.

At this price, annual gross rental yield would come in to around 2.7%. While maintenance fees are only disclosed at a later date, they are not expected to be cheap, and would further eat into rental yields.

For investors therefore, City Gate would be a better bet. Potential yields are higher, and the potentially lower rents would be more attractive to tenants. With the two projects around 500 meters apart, the choice of nearby amenities would not differ too greatly.

The key differentiators would be the size of units, the desired walking distance to MRT lines, and the quality of the amenities and finishing.

With a sharp supply of 1-bedroom units due to hit the Bugis area when the two projects complete, tenant competition is going to be stiff, and landlords will need to price competitively.

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Summary

The residential tower dominates Beach Road and commands a panoramic view of Kampong Glam including the north and west sides of the city area.

While Keypoint building never truly took advantage of its location despite being a commercial and retail development, City Gate aims to completely revitalize the vicinity with what can only be described as an ‘infusion of fresh blood’.

Furthermore, as a mixed commercial and residential development, City Gate serves as a modern shopping mall for residents of Skyline Concourse just as Skyline serves as a quick way through to Nicoll Highway MRT station.

City Gate is at the forefront of the huge change coming to the Beach Road/Ophir-Rochor Corridor as detailed in the 2014 Master Plan URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority).

Several parts of Beach Road like Kampong Glam are already identified as conservation zones. There are also designated areas in the neighboring vicinity that are reserved as future green zones; a boon, given Singapore’s unrelenting heat.

eypoint Building and City Gate showroom

eypoint Building and City Gate showroom

Once the government’s plans at rejuvenating Beach Road come to fruition, the landscape will be irrevocably changed. The interim years between the maturity of City Gate and the eventual growth of the Beach Road area will be a good time for existing owners to allow their property to appreciate further.

After Beach Road begins its urban redevelopment however, there will be an inevitable influx of new commercial setups in the area. This provides additional employment opportunities for residents while increasing the value of the land.

People whom prefer larger units may opt for Skyline or DUO but City Gate looks to be the one with the most potential. So far, 90% of residential units are sold, most of which are the 1 & 2-bedroom units. As for the commercial units, they are about 50% sold.

With top notch facilities and a large modern shopping complex in an area with excellent connectivity, City Gate is the first big change coming to an area prepping for a big change.

Current owners of City Gate may have something really good on their hands.

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Eric Wong

Christopher Chitty

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