The Atelier is an upcoming 120-unit freehold luxury apartment in District 9, located within touching distance to the Newton MRT station as well as several reputable schools.
Project Name: OUE Twin Peaks
Address: 33 Leonie Hill Road
Site area: approx. 130, 981 sqft
Tenure: 99-year leasehold
Configuration: 462 units in two, 36-storey, towers
Unit types: 132, 1BR (549 sqft)
136, 1BR (571 sqft)
66, 2BR (1,055 sqft)
66, 3BR (1,399 sqft)
116, 3BR (1,604 sqft)
4, 4BR (1,895 sqft)
TOP: 24th Feb 2015
Propshort: OUE Twin Peaks comes furnished with luxury furniture by high-end brands, but this is a small bonus to otherwise, well-designed units. There are a few quirks that owners may have to get used to but overall, the units are spacious and luxurious, both in appearance and ambiance.
Luxury projects tend to be hits or misses in Singapore. On one hand, they’re lavishly designed with all the peripherals expected of a luxury home but on the other, space constraints and poor planning contributes to a less than favourable sight.
OUE Twin Peaks largely avoids this mess by offering units that are mostly spacious with good clean designs that actually do more toward selling an executive, high-power professional image than its counterparts.
The floor to ceiling windows make a big impact as the amount of natural light admitted on any given day is maximised. Natural light coupled with a neutral white or bright colours can make a room feel and look bigger and it’s no different here.
From the layout, the unit does show promise though the wardrobe having been placed into the bathroom feels like an odd choice. It’s okay if you don’t intend to grow your wardrobe. However, the idea of having clothes locked behind a wooden wardrobe in an area that will be damp most of the time doesn’t feel like a particularly smart move.
The wardrobe however is a small issue. The only true space waster here, is the planter. If there wasn’t a planter, there would likely have been ample room in the unit proper for a larger wardrobe to be built within the bedroom area.
Fortunately, for the 1BR units, there isn’t enough space for bay windows. The 2BR units and above however, aren’t as lucky.
The floorplan shows a unit that is well-spaced with a clean, modern design. However, add the large balcony with the just as large (and useless) planter and you’ve got a space that is just shy of the total area that makes up the living room. If those two things, or at least, the planter wasn’t there, there would have been more room to add to the kitchen or a bigger space for the dining table, instead of having it sit just next to the main door.
This space wastage rears its ugly head again in the bedrooms. Bedrooms in recent years have gone from being a refuge to just four walls where you sleep or hang your clothes. Adding bay windows is nearly always detrimental and it is no different here. The bay windows were used as a sort of foundation at the showflat where tables or some shelving were built on it but this only confounded the problem.
Furthermore, the master bathroom is outfitted with glass, all around. Which means anyone that wakes into the bedroom while you’re showering or doing your business can watch you as if you’re on an episode of the most invasive TV show ever, Big Brother. This design element is neither charming nor modern and it’s not beyond our ability to assume that people who do buy a unit that comes with this type of bathroom would renovate to give that element some privacy.
The official photographs look great however, but when compared with the show unit, is like night and day.
The only unit where the bay windows seem to work are in the 3BR but that’s because of the far larger floor space. Even then, imagine the actual space you could have if it weren’t already taken up by bay windows, planters and an unnecessarily large balcony.
This trinity of ill-conceived means to make the most use of the gross floor area without actually making it usable puts a huge dent on an otherwise well-designed project with good layouts that are in a strong location where the nearest amenity is a shopping centre roughly an eight-minute walk away.
However, all units come fully furnished, including furniture from big brands like Charles & Ray Eames, Hans Wegner, Foscarini and Herman Miller to name a few. This makes moving in easy and the furnishing is done exceptionally well.
Propshort: OUE Twin Peaks is situated just outside of the madness of Orchard Road but close enough that walking to Takashimaya won’t take more than five minutes. AN upcoming extension of Orchard MRT station is being developed across the road from the condo which eases travelling a little more. But the true promise of Twin Peaks is that it is very close to the shopping belt of Singapore.
There is plenty of presumed prestige to living in town. The allure of being within walking distance to Orchard Road and its smorgasbord of restaurants, entertainment, shopping and even to some degree, schools is an inviting prospect for individuals with the buying power to make this a reality.
But the true genius of living within the confines of Orchard Road is to own a home that is just outside of the continued frenzy of its roads and away from the noise and collection of disparate people and tourists on the cobbled streets.
OUE Twin Peaks, a two-storey, luxury condominium of mid-density has some claim to this. Situated just after the mouth of Leonie Hill Road from Grange Road, the development which achieved TOP earlier in February this year, commands its surrounding.
It is visible from the rear of Takashimaya (rising just above the vaunted ERP gantry) and directly across Grange Road. Not more than two-minutes away is the upcoming extension to the Orchard MRT that will turn it into a massive Interchange and bridging the new Thomson-East Coast line (TEL) with the red, North-South Line.
From the TEL, it’s possible to ride the train all the way to JB once that part of the infrastructure is completed. The convenience of travel so far, works to the advantage of those that have bought a unit in Twin Peaks.
Visually, the two towers are rather impressive looking and much of the view from the higher floors are more or less unobstructed, at least in the north and north-east directions.
It’s a bit of a walk currently to the nearest bus stops and most bus stops are located in Orchard Road or at least, will pass through it if you’re going toward the east. However, the prices of the area more than suggests that the people who can comfortably afford a unit in one of these projects are usually the kind who own a car or two.
Driving also makes things easier as from Leonie Hill, getting to River Valley and Kim Seng Road towards Great World City would take about ten minutes, probably less. The closest highway is the CTE and that is accessible from Havelock Road via Kim Seng Road though it is a bit further away.
But where OUE Twin Peaks is located, getting to all these locations and more, such as Dhoby Gaut, Tanglin and even Holland Village is easy enough with the arterial roads that snake all around. This much ease of transport without actually being right smack in the middle of the hustle and bustle is a huge positive.
Update: The transaction graph and various other data below have been updated to reflect the current sales health of OUE Twin Peaks. Data is obtained directly from Realis so developer specific sale percentages may not apply, such as in the case of number of units sold under the deferred payment scheme.
The prices vary but the lowest was transacted in June 2016 at $1,207,800 at a psf of $2 ,200. Interestingly, this was for a 549 sqft unit. This same unit size was sold at $1.30M to $1.50M and above in the years before. Likely different floors have different prices.
The average psf of projects in the area are around the $2xxx – $3xxx psf range so it’s not surprising that units at OUE Twin Peaks are priced high. Furthermore, OUE purchased the land at an en bloc price that till this day has not been beaten.
Owners of the previous Grangeford Apartments made a killing, one of whom included Jackie Chan who made about three times more than the $1. 3M he paid for in 1996. With that understanding, below are the current transactions, at the time of writing.
Public perception on the project hasn’t been good, likely forewarned by the astronomical price the developer paid for the land. Early buyers would have to stomach future sales of units to be made at a much lower price. However, according to the sales data, 271 units out of 462 have been transacted, with a large number of those transactions occurring in this year. With about 59% of the development sold, prospects are looking up for OUE Twin Peaks.
The median PSF values for the transacted units have also been updated to reflect the new data:
Already, OUE is offering ‘deferred payment’ where the buyer pays a 20% down payment then signs the contract, collects the keys and pays the remainder 80% two or three years later.
It’s a novel concept but given how ABSD is, buying a unit in this manner is similar to gambling.
To calculate the average rental yield, the 1BR 570 sqft unit will be used as it has seen the most number of transactions over the rest. URA states that the PSF for the last four quarters is at $4.53 which brings monthly rent (after adding a 20% new build premium) to $3,098.
Taking a median transacted price of $1,544,750, the rental yield comes up to 2.4% which is expected of areas that are typically advertised as having a ‘prestigious address’. Low sales and/or low rental makes up for this. To buy a unit here is to live in it, rather than for investment because there are many other better, investment worthy projects that are affordable.
Unless something miraculous like the previous en bloc sale occurs again, investing in OUE Twin Peaks is too big a gamble. In addition, the lease is for 99-years so you’ll be holding that unit for a long time with a low chance of selling or renting. With the troubles OUE is having now at offloading their remainder units, expect that problem to greatly colour public perception toward the project, no matter how nicely developed or conveniently located it is.
Living in it however, is an entirely different thing. For personal use, OUE Twin Peaks is good if you can afford it.
All the latest housing policies that have impacted foreign buying ability have resulted in luxury projects like OUE Twin Peaks to suffer the test of time. It also shows a more troubling vision of the future; that despite being mostly well designed (bay windows and planters aside) and in a good location, it still struggles to find proper footing.
A huge part of this is of course the high PSF but that is symptomatic of the neighbouring developments.
The luxury market is a niche market so developing a two tower project of 36 stories each that hold 462 units not only robs it of its exclusive feel but puts too many moving pieces on the board for the developer to move in trying times. The deferred payment scheme may help but in the long run, even that has a quota before hitting its critical mass.
In closing, OUE Twin Peaks makes no bold claims to what it is. It is exactly as it is advertised; a luxury development located a short walk from the Orchard Road shopping belt. It is pricey but with the upcoming MRT station extension, it’s actually a good time to buy now and reap the rewards of better transportation in the coming future.
But at that price point, there are certainly far more affordable projects that are located in similarly well-connected locations. Unless you absolutely must live within the Orchard Road area, OUE Twin Peaks does not quite bring anything strong to the table.
However, as the developer is eager to sell their units, further discounts may in fact make some of the larger and less-attainable units reachable for buyers with a stricter hold on their cash.