• Christopher Chitty
  • 26 January 2016

Singapore-Johore Express Pte Ltd is a Singapore based bus/train company that has begun diversifying into property with its first development being built on the grounds of the Singapore Johore Factories Building. 

Project Name: Kallang Riverside

Address: 51 Kampong Bugis

Type: Mixed development

Tenure: Freehold

District: 12

Configuration: 1 Tower (30 storeys) of 212 residential and 7 commercial units

Unit type: 52, 1-bedroom units (517, 657, & 829 sqft)

84, 2-bedroom units (1,001, 1,087, 958 & 1,012 sqft)

23, 2-bedroom with study (1,033 sqft)

22, 3-bedroom units (1,141 sqft)

24, 3-bedroom Dual Key (1,432 & 1,572 sqft)

4, 3-bedroom + study + family duplex (1,916 & 1,970 sqft)

1, 3-bedroom Penthouse (2,508 sqft)

2, 4-bedroom Penthouse (3,154 & 3,498 sqft)

Parking lots: TBA

Expected TOP: 2019

Project Details

Though it has yet to complete its foundation and the area around it is nothing but a wide green field with a smattering of trees, Kallang Riverside when it launched was extremely popular.

More than half of its total units have been bought at the time of this writing, with the majority of the south-facing (water view) units no longer available.

Source: Kallang Riverside e-brochure

Source: Kallang Riverside e-brochure

The north-facing units offer a view of the city and the soon-to-be park and though it might feel like wasted opportunity to not have bought a south-facing unit, the entire single tower that is Kallang Riverside is still a worthy investment regardless the orientation.

And the biggest reason for this, is its freehold status.

1-bedroom: The units themselves are very impressive. So far, 1-bedroom units that start at 48 sqm, are some of the largest 1-bedroom units to be offered in Singapore. The size is surprising but when paired with the layout, it offers a rather lavish studio apartment for single executives.

The bathroom is large but not so overwhelming that you feel some of the space should have been cut out and added to the bedroom or living room.

Source: Kallang Riverside e-brochure

Source: Kallang Riverside e-brochure

The ID (interior design) treatment had the walls to the bedroom removed and the bed sitting on an elevated platform serviced by a short flight of steps. This is what adds to the feel of the show unit and presents a very good suggestion for owners to follow.

The wardrobe does line the wall leading to the bathroom so with the partition walls up around the bedroom, it might feel strange for owners who are used to having the wardrobe in the room instead of outside.

The actual units will come with a sliding door so the onus is on the owner should they wish to remove it.

From the 1-bedroom unit already, one thing becomes apparent; space here does not feel constrained. But because it is a 1-bedroom unit, this is a little hard to justify. Fortunately, the other showunits highlight this to an impressive degree.

Source: Kallang Riverside e-brochure

Source: Kallang Riverside e-brochure

2-bedroom: The 2-bedroom unit (94 sqm) is as big as some 3-bedroom units in other developments. At such a large size, it provides a little something that is fast becoming rare in Singapore; a closed kitchen.

The brighter colours help make the living space look bigger, as does the large square marble tiles that are used in all the units. For the 2-bedroom unit, it gives it a luxury vibe.

The closed kitchen though appearing narrow in the photo opens up into a spacious L-shaped work space that is curiously (but also mercifully) free of the requisite yard/utility space.

Source: Kallang Riverside e-brochure

Source: Kallang Riverside e-brochure

While this may appear like a step back for some people who are used to having that bit of extra storage space, consider that without the yard, more can be done to bulk up the important areas of the house, primarily the common bedroom.

And the common bedroom does stand out because it is spacious. More spacious than what is usually seen. Consider that there is enough space for two people to stand shoulder to shoulder between the foot of the queen size bed and the wall.

Add to that a large in-built wardrobe and walking space between the side of the bed and the window and the absence of a yard becomes a justified excision.

Source: Kallang Riverside e-brochure

Source: Kallang Riverside e-brochure

The largeness of the common bedroom overshadows the master bedroom- which is larger and comes with an en suite bathroom- by the sheer fact that a big common bedroom is a rarity here.

2-bedroom w/ study: This unit is 96 sqm and is the larger of the 2-bedroom variants.

It’s not altogether as impressive as the first two units if only for the fact that it’s more of the same goodness. It does come with a touch of a conventionalism with the addition of a segmented area the developers call the study area.

The study area isn’t particularly big nor does it add anything to an already large unit. It’s there for owners who like to have a cosy study area or even a lounging/reading zone away from the living room. Though when viewing the common bedroom again, it makes the study area moot because of the utter amount of space already offered.

The common bedroom in this unit is noticeably larger than the previous one and it offers a lot of room to add a proper study desk or entertainment console (or both through smart ID) with abundant space to move around in.

The master bedroom too is big, with a walk-in wardrobe leading to the bathroom. The wardrobe is rather barebones, when considering the scope of the entire unit. It is questionable why a full blown wardrobe isn’t provided over what is essentially a quick-grab rack for just a few pieces of clothes.

It does come across as style over substance here, but given that the rest of the unit, especially the open kitchen, already looks both stylish and ample, it’s a slight misstep that is forgivable.

3-bedroom DK: Most of the main 133 sqm unit is as large as you’d expect it to be, complete with open kitchen and utility room. The sizes for the common bedroom and junior master bedroom are, as impressive as the bedrooms in the other units with continuing the generous space allocation.

But the dual-key unit is notable for its ‘second unit’ which is so large, it looks like a 1-bedroom unit was plucked out and added to the existing layout of a 3-bedroom unit.

To say that it is huge is an understatement.

Though a king size bed is placed in the dual-key unit, it feels small. Two bunk beds can fit in here with lots of room to spare.

The kitchen is small however, occupying only one wall but it is good enough for light cooking. Storage space too is limited, though that may be added later by the owner. The bathroom is as large as any en suite bathrooms in the development, which for a dual-key unit, is breaking all sorts of preconceived expectations.

Space aside, there are a few other notable things about the entire development. Firstly, ceiling height is a generous 3.2m for every unit. Rain shower is included in every bathroom for every unit and inducted air-conditioner is used over the traditional wall-hung ones.

Source: Kallang Riverside e-brochure

Source: Kallang Riverside e-brochure

These air-conditioners are built into the L-box/false ceiling, allowing for a more streamlined and overall nicer aesthetic. Maintenance is handled by building management.

All kitchen appliances are provided save the washing machine/dryer, though the cabinet space is built into for the owner to slot their own washer in. The remaining appliances like induction stove, hood and fridge are provided and are Bosch branded.

The development also has four duplex maisonettes which aren’t shown, as well as three penthouses though the penthouses are currently not released for sale. The developers are holding onto them indefinitely, with the possibility of release should there be an attractive offer.

Judging by the prices transacted for the other units, it is not inconceivable for a penthouse unit (which are single level) to match prices with similar units in Orchard or Marina Bay. For a project being built in an area that has yet to see any upgrading, this pricing takes into consideration the future, so for some people, it might not only be highly priced, but also, over-priced.

However, freehold condos are rare and Kallang Riverside, should the market turn in the next few years, will be a hot commodity. Based on that, prices now are a steal, especially for freehold property.

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Etymology: There are several stories surrounding the origin of the Kallang name. Some believe it to be an old Malay reference to the orang laut (people of the sea) called orang biduanda kallang. They resided in and around the Kallang River and Singapore River but by 1848, a nasty smallpox epidemic practically rendered them extinct.

The other potential meaning of this name may have come from the corrupted Malay word, kilang, which means mill or factory. This is likely because there were saw and rice mills in the area then.

Lastly, Kallang could have also originated from galang, which according to Wikipedia, means to ‘put a boat on wooden stocks or rollers’. This is also apt as the Kallang area occupies both sides of the Kallang River.

Surrounding: The Kallang River which starts at Lower Peirce Reservoir in Thomson flowing to the coast at Nicoll Highway stretches for 10km making it the longest river in Singapore. Previously, the river mouth was at the Kallang Basin but this has since changed due to extensive land reclamation.

Kallang Riverside sits on a plot of land owned by the Singapore-Johore Express and was, until recently, occupied by its factory.

Source: Google Maps

Source: Google Maps

By virtue of the land deed, Kallang Riverside is now only one of two developments in the area that are freehold. The other, The Riverine, stands alone along Kallang Road, near the Kallang River and currently further away from amenities.

Staying at The Riverine makes driving a necessity as the project borders the main Kallang Road, with the nearest bus stop further down at about 188m away. It is closer to Kallang MRT station than Lavender but both are a little too far for residents to endure walking to and fro daily. Kallang MRT station can be walked to however, but the walk is long and unsheltered so during rainy weather, residents will get stuck.

Kallang Riverside is on land that according to the Master Plan, is due for a massive overhaul. Several residential condominium projects are slated to be built in the vicinity. The entire area will be developed into a sprawling park, complementing the river, and part of URA’s vision to create spaces that rely on cars for transportation.

Kampong Bugis future park and residential

Kampong Bugis future park and residential

It is early yet to see how this place will look, as Kallang Riverside is the first to come onto the scene. But judging from previous developments that took place in districts that were originally barren, such as Marina Bay, the future of Kampong Bugis looks quite exciting.

For now, Kampong Bugis is a relatively unknown stretch of road just before the Sri Manmatha Hindu temple. The only noteworthy thing, aside from the early piling works for Kallang Riverside, is the ever popular Japanese fusion restaurant, Kilo, which overlooks the Rochor and Kallang River.

There are no schools nearby though with the MRT station about ten minutes away, it’s not terribly inconvenient for children that are of an age, to travel to school.

As for shopping, there is little save what dining and retail elements that are available across Lavender MRT station (Exit B) at V Hotel. Next to the ICA Building is the Beach Road Army Market and Golden Mile Food Centre, so there are at least some food options in the interim, though a little further than what is usually considered comfortable.

Closest to Kallang Riverside and within walking distance is Aperia Mall along Lavender Street. It is a large mall with numerous food options, the most popular being Tim Ho Wan restaurant.

In the meantime, The Riverine residents suffer from this lack of connectivity due to its distance but once Kallang Riverside is up, all this is set to change. Kallang Riverside is also significantly closer to these amenities while occupying prime real estate area overlooking the river in a quiet area.

Source: Kallang Riverside e-brochure

Source: Kallang Riverside e-brochure

As a mixed development wholly owned by Singapore-Johore Express, the tenants will be picked by the developer so as to ensure that all residents in this low to mid density development have the most basic if not slightly more lavish, amenities available.

Things like cafes and indie shops are expected to take up residency on the ground floor, including at least a grocery store.

Getting there: The closest MRT station is Lavender, which is along the East-West line. The walk from the station to the site is roughly ten minutes.

Lavender MRT and ICA building

Lavender MRT and ICA building

It is a straight path in the opposite direction of the ICA Building, with one major road crossing and one zebra crossing.

Keep on the path and walk along the red-bricked wall surrounding state land that will in time be part of the park development until you see the temple and the sign signalling you’ve reached Kampong Bugis.

Make a right turn and walk down the long road. The Kallang Riverside showflat sits just in front of the development site, at the fork in the road.

Left turn at temple to Kampong Bugis

Left turn at temple to Kampong Bugis

In the near future, there will be a park connector from Kampong Bugis, past Crawford Street toward Lavender MRT station.

Right now, to get to the development, you will have to walk along Kallang Road and make a right turn but when the connector is up, supposedly by the time Kallang Riverside is completed, residents can shave some additional walking time by using the new path.

Kallang Riverside showflat

Kallang Riverside showflat

The connector won’t be sheltered however, which is an issue during monsoon season. For all other months when the sun is blazing, the canopies of trees that are expected to dot the landscape will help alleviate some of the heat.

Furthermore, there are no plans currently to build another underground exit/entrance to Lavender MRT station though given that Lavender MRT is an old station, such potential developments may yet occur, albeit further down in time.

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Price Analysis

Kallang Riverside upon launching its first phase some time back, has proven to be extremely popular, with than half of its 212 units sold at the time of this writing.

For a development from a developer new to the property market, this is important because it shows that company pedigree is no longer a valuable metric of a project’s worth. Nor is it as much of an issue with buyers as the media often claims.

Kallang Riverside transacted data

Kallang Riverside have begun their phase 2 sales, but most of the south-facing units have already been sold, leaving one or two lower floor units in that preferred orientation which will be sold before long. This is not to suggest that the city, north-facing units are unpopular. These too have been snapped up, leaving less than a handful of 1 and 2-bedrooms left.

Kallang Riverside offers some of the biggest 1 and 2-bedroom units in Singapore with an unconventionally higher psf starting at a median of $2,174/$2,087 respectively.

Its closest competitor, The Riverine only offers 3 and 4-bedroom apartments, with a starting size of 980 sqft that is similar to the smallest 2-bedroom unit in Kallang Riverside. Size-wise, Kallang Riverside beats The Riverine handily.

What is more interesting is the high volume of sales in the $2m to $2.3m range. The former comfortable range of $1m – $1.5m have had its ceiling increased, despite more stringent lending policies issued by the banks.

According to URA data, two units – 3BR + study + family duplex – were transacted at approximately $4.8m. Typically, larger units move at a slower pace but all units in Kallang Riverside were sold proportionate to what were released. Part of this has to do with the freehold status of the development since the pricing, based on the undeveloped location it is now, takes into consideration how it will look like in the future.

Even though the developer has “future-priced” the project amidst a pessimistic climate, motivated buyers with deeper pockets have decided to throw down their cheques, and are willing to pay to live in a place they really like.

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Surrounded as it is by lush greenery with the Kallang Basin flowing in the south and the city roaring in the north, Kallang Riverside sits at the epicentre of a tranquil waterfront and business zone.

As such, it is a suitable home for professionals wanting peace without sacrificing much distance to the city, though families that live here may find sending their children to school to be a trying affair.

This is a lifestyle zone, make no mistake, and as such schools and other neighbourhood developments are far and about. The nearest malls and cinemas will be one train stop away at Bugis.

Kallang Riverside north facing toward city (Soon to be redeveloped)

Kallang Riverside north facing toward city (Soon to be redeveloped)

With the river running around Kampong Bugis and the area inundated with trees, the fenceless development is the first to come to this largely undeveloped area.

After Kampong Bugis is redeveloped, the currently barren plot of land is expected to take on the appearance of a large park with Kallang Riverside at the occupying a rare plot of freehold land.

The many people that have bought units at Kallang Riverside are cognizant of this detail and are largely unbothered by the slightly out of range amenities. When completed, there will be cafes, grocery stores and small shops within the development itself to cater to the basic demands of every resident.

But the buyers that have committed to living here to do not for what little amenities there will be but the quieter, riverfront environment. With little going on at the moment, it’s hard to visualise how Kampong Bugis will look but the adage of buyer beware seem to have effect here.

Kampong Bugis is being prepped for a change and judging from past landscaping around Singapore, it’s not far-fetched to assume the beautification of this place will occur.

Path to Kampong Bugis

Path to Kampong Bugis

Already the park and the connector to Lavender MRT is expected to be completed by the time Kallang Riverside TOPs.

And when it does, it will be unrecognizable.

Like Marina Bay and Clarke Quay that started ambiguously but are now some of the hottest districts in Singapore, Kampong Bugis with Kallang Riverside in its chamber will redefine this area in the years to come.

For a first time developer, Singapore-Johore Express Pte Ltd shows remarkable foresight in layout and designing when compared to its more experienced competitors in the market. Kallang Riverside benefits greatly as a nascent piece of property rivaling its competitors strongly.

If plans come to fruition, Kallang Riverside has the necessary attributes to stand toe to toe, even beating those competitors, handily.

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Eric Wong

Christopher Chitty

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