The Crest Review



  • Christopher Chitty
  • 18 February 2016

The Crest is developed by Wingcrown Investment Pte Ltd, a joint venture between Wing Tai Asia, Metro Australia Holdings Pte Ltd and Maxdin Pte Ltd.

Project Name: The Crest @ Prince Charles Crescent

Address: 105 Prince Charles Crescent

Type: Residential

Site area: Approx. 256,026 sqft

Tenure: 99-year leasehold with effect from 1st July 2011

District: 3

Configuration: 469 units over 4 blocks of 5-storey villas and 3 towers of 23-storey apartments

Unit types: 57, 1-bedroom units (614 – 775 sqft)

89, 2-bedroom units (743 – 1,001 sqft)

18, 2-bedroom + study (883 – 1,044 sqft)

35, 3-bedroom units (1,033 – 1,335 sqft)

41, 3-bedroom (M) units (1,184 – 1,389 sqft)

2, 3-bedroom + study (1,044 sqft)

32, 3-bedroom (M) + study (1,453 – 1,658 sqft)

67, 3-bedroom guest suite/dual-key units (1,141 – 1,335 sqft)

8, 4-bedroom units (1,485 – 1,711 sqft)

4, 4-bedroom + study (1,582 – 1,690 sqft)

2, 4-bedroom (M) + study (1,744 sqft)

20, 4-bedroom guest suite/dual-key units (1,367 – 1,733 sqft)

4, 4-bedroom guest suite/dual-key + study units (1,453 – 1,658 sqft)

2, 5-bedroom (M) units (1,841 sqft)

8, 5-bedroom (M) + study (1,873 – 2,002 sqft)

Island Villas

30, 2-bedroom villas (904 – 1,033 sqft)

10, 3-bedroom villas (1,173 – 1,378 sqft)

40, 4-bedroom villas (1,604 – 1,884 sqft)

Parking lots: Basement carpark with 494 lots including 7 handicapped lots

Expected TOP: June 2018

Project Details

When Toyo Ito designed the shape of The Crest, he did so with the understanding that such a structure will promote maximum wind flow for good ventilation. Thus the façade of its three high rise towers look very different from the other developments around it.

It’s less rigid and common, especially toward the top where it flares out, like petals on a flower reaching for the sun.

The four smaller villa blocks have a similar look, but are only four stories. Though the design is different, savvy buyers are likely to wonder about the spaces within the units. With such angular corners, layouts might not be practical, or have pillars and odd angles to be designed around.

4-bedroom Island Villa (1,604 sqft): The Crest is a luxury development with the almost mandatory private lift. The showunit for the 4-bedroom villa apartment has a lift within its grounds just before the main entrance.

Upon entering the main area, the feel of the space is somewhat smaller than expected of a villa. However, at 1,604 sqft, it is doubly interesting to see how well the bedrooms fare with regards to their size. For the living area however, it’s of a decent size.

The Crest 4BR Villa living and dining area with balcony

The Crest 4BR Villa living and dining area with balcony

It’s not so big that you’d feel weird without a 60” or bigger television but it’s large enough for a couch for four or five and a coffee table.

The balcony can comfortably hold a long bench and since they’re all sheltered and protected by the necessary safety railings, making the balcony an extension of the living room when you have guests over is possible, if the weather permits.

Behind the dining table is the dry kitchen area with built-in cabinets in a gorgeous grey shade which adds much needed contrast to an otherwise white-washed unit.

The Crest 4BR Villa dry kitchen

The Crest 4BR Villa dry kitchen

The sink is provided though the Nespresso machine displayed does not come with the unit. That’s not a big deal because you get the heavy duty appliances like, ceramic hob, cooker hood, oven, microwave oven and a stand-alone fridge.

Even the floors are of a higher quality as the entire kitchen is decked out in porcelain tiles – a hardy and easy to maintain material.

The Crest 4BR Villa wet kitchen

The Crest 4BR Villa wet kitchen

The yard/utility space is quite generous, though the pantry room is not practical as a maid’s room.

For the unit, the wall was removed and replaced with a bi-fold door as an example of better alternatives toward utilising the space.

The washing machine and dryer are located in that far corner, giving you a specific space to do laundry, away from where you cook.

The Crest 4BR Villa Utility and Laundry area in wet kitchen

The Crest 4BR Villa Utility and Laundry area in wet kitchen

As a result of its layout, the wet kitchen is L-shaped A good thing about the kitchen is that while other developments that utilize the same shape end up providing a much narrower corridor and washing area, the space here is decent, with enough room for mobility.

You still won’t be able to drag in long bamboo poles, given its orientation, but you’re unlikely to intrude upon the cooking area much, if at all.

This good design can be seen throughout the unit. Even the bathrooms – common and master – benefit from the lighter tone porcelain tiles and walls.

The Crest 4BR villa common bathroom

The Crest 4BR villa common bathroom

The finish resembles wood, which is great because it makes the bathroom look comfortable without suffering the ill-effects of using actual wood in wet space.

The vanity cabinet has a little side magazine rack by the toilet, which is a nice touch by the developers.

The Crest 4BR villa master bathroom

The Crest 4BR villa master bathroom

The master bathroom is similar, albeit bigger and with two – his & hers – wash basins.

For the common bedroom – and this is a recurring trend for many common bedrooms in The Crest – their slight octagonal shape results in pointed corners which makes the room feel less functional.

While the floor plans and pictures might convey a sense of awkwardness to the rooms, it’s actually not bad at all when you are standing in the space.

The Crest 4BR Villa common bedroom

The Crest 4BR Villa common bedroom

It is unconventional, but because of the balconies and the smart way the wardrobes are built to take advantage of those corners, what you’re left with is innovative usage of odd angles that celebrate its unique structure rather than make it stand out jarringly.

Case in point are the aforementioned built-in wardrobes. Where most wardrobes sit against a straight wall, a basic sliding door will suffice but over here, the wardrobe occupies an odd angle where a sliding door would create problems.

And it can’t be placed flat against any wall because it would eat up bed space. What the architect did then is both simple and ingenious.

The Crest 4BR villa common bedroom closet

The Crest 4BR villa common bedroom closet

Rather than fit in a regular closet which would hamper the flow of the space, the architect works with shape of the room to find a practical and useful solution.

With two bi-fold doors that open inward, the wardrobe becomes a pseudo walk-in closet that allows you to reach in easily, especially the hard to reach corners.

This design imperative to construct custom-made furniture to fit the structure is further elaborated with the elongated ID (interior design) divan/study table hybrid occupying space next to the bed overlooking the window, complete with developer provided planter on the outside.

The Crest 4BR villa common bedroom 2

The Crest 4BR villa common bedroom 2

While this table is ID treatment, it does represent a good idea to replicate.

Even though the balconies found in the master bedrooms may appear small, they’re really there to allow wind flow and sunlight to filter into the unit.

Natural light and fresh air makes a room feel bright and according to Feng Shui, it also channels and imbues the living space with positive energy.

3-bedroom loft (1,195sqft): This unit sports a ceiling height of 6m because it is a loft unit. However, unlike other loft units, there isn’t actually a loft included with the unit when you purchase it.

Though the permits and licenses have been given, the developer are leaving it up to the residents who choose to buy the loft unit to decide if they want to keep it as a single floor apartment with a high ceiling or install a deck of some kind to make use of the vertical space.

The Crest 3BR Loft kitchen

The Crest 3BR Loft kitchen

The loft unit, while spacious, has a less common layout. The kitchen is on the left once you enter and though it’s in its own self-contained part of the house, it seems a little unnecessary to have it so far away.

Likely, the developer made the decision to allow residents the space they will need to build a deck in the living room area that would not infringe upon kitchen space. This way, the kitchen is kept in a communal area.

As such, the 3-bedroom loft unit is actually very lucrative for rental, given that there is potential to rent out to several tenants.

Past the living room area, lies the rest of the unit. Part of the living room was partitioned off to create another room which is shown as a guest room in the showunit.

The Crest 3BR Loft rooms

The Crest 3BR Loft rooms

As a result of this, the balcony is attached to the ‘room’ giving it a bit more boost in the total surface area.

If this room is used as a guest room or even rented out, it will benefit from having a lot of ventilation and natural light, including additional space.

The Crest 3BR Loft balcony

The Crest 3BR Loft balcony

The balcony is layered in timber that has been burnt to a rich dark brown colour for that exquisite homely feel. When paired with white sofas, the contrast makes for a very alluring look.

The rest of the unit is just as nice with a spacious common bathroom that has the same level of quality in design and furnishing.

The Crest 3BR Loft common bathroom

The Crest 3BR Loft common bathroom

The longer vanity top that follows the contours of the wall actually adds to the spaciousness by giving more standing space between the door and the toilet.

The bright porcelain tiles and walls also plays a part in projecting this roominess.

The bedroom floors however are engineered timber strips. Some form of wood flooring is common in bedrooms and with good reason; they elicit a cosy and warm look and are perfect for when the air-con is on.

Only problem with wooden floors is that they might get a bit noisy but this depends on many factors, age one of them.

The Crest 3BR Loft common bedroom

The Crest 3BR Loft common bedroom

The common bedroom might appear a bit small but it owes that to the queen size bed sitting like an elephant in the room.

Also, since the structure of the unit is different from other mass-marketed developments, conventional products run the risk of not fitting well. You can find some that would gel with the layout but it will be better to custom-build furniture.

Of course this is an increased cost and but it’s a trade-off for owning a distinctive piece of property in an affluent area and finding pieces that will fit like a jigsaw puzzle.

The master bedroom however, has no such issues because it’s quite large with a walk-in wardrobe and an attached bathroom that gives it a very specific luxury hotel feel overlooking the city.

The Crest 3BR Loft master bedroom

The Crest 3BR Loft master bedroom

The smaller balcony enhances the bedroom.

In regular developments, the master bedroom can give the impression of fighting for space with a balcony constantly trying to justify its presence by being of a particular size.

Over here, it’s like killing two birds with one stone. There’s a balcony, large enough for one person to sit or stand in and a bedroom that does not suffer for its inclusion. It helps that the balcony is in a little nook (or is a little nook, depending on how you look at it).

3-bedroom with guest suite (1,270 sqft): This unit is a dual-key apartment. From the private lift lobby and through the main door, the ‘guest suite’, as it is called, is on the left. Unlike other dual-key apartments, the sub-unit does not come with its own cooking/kitchen area.

For the showunit, the sub-unit is just a slightly bigger master bedroom with an attached bathroom. So although it’s sold as a dual-key, the developer’s own naming of it as a ‘guest suite/dual-key’ is more accurate.

However, Wingcrown Investment have made provisions in the DK room for a kitchenette with one caveat; the owner will have to replace the wardrobe with it. This is not an opt-in feature and is up to the owner to do their own modifications.

It is strange that a kitchenette is not included and the owner forced to make the choice on their own but it does allow for some preferential tweaking.

Owners intending to lease out the guest room on Airbnb for example, can market it as a self-sufficient room. Furthermore, with several eateries in the area including delivery services, not having a place to cook is not really a big deal for a tourist on temporary stay.

All in all though, giving up a wardrobe for a kitchen or vice versa seems like an unnecessary decision. It’s like having a hamburger without French fries; it’s doable, but it might feel weird.

The rest of the unit however, sports the same high quality finishing and spaciousness of the other showunits with the expected smart utilisation of the angular and sharp corners.

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Location

Etymology: Several places in Singapore have names steeped in Malay legend and Redhill, more commonly known as Bukit Merah, is no different. The name which translates directly to Hill Red, originated from the story of a young boy who devised a solution to protect the villagers and fishermen from attacking swordfish. His efforts shamed the Sultan whom then ordered his death. Bukit Merah, according to the story, was named in homage of the boy.

Now, Bukit Merah is a large new town, home to public estates and private, affluent enclaves like Prince Charles Crescent.

Getting there and the surroundings: Visiting the newly launched showflat is easy, albeit a slightly longer walk. From Redhill MRT station – which is on the popular East-West Line- take the left exit from the gantry and walk down the path, past Alex Residences showflat, cross the road and keep on the path between Ascentia Sky condo and the upcoming Echelon.

Source: Google Maps

Source: Google Maps

The Crest will be hard to miss as the three tower blocks sport a rather unique look, like flowers in mid-bloom. The walk will take about ten minutes or so, depending on how fast you go.

Since Prince Charles Crescent is on a slight rise, one has to head uphill. At least it makes walking from the Crest to the MRT station a quicker walk, with the downhill gradient.

Furthermore, as the area is more of a private enclave, there are trees everywhere and while it does provide shade from the sun, when the trees are unpruned, the area can seem a little dim.

The Crest peaking out from Alexandra Road

The Crest peaking out from Alexandra Road

During visit to the showflat, it seemed to be somewhat sombre, despite the heavy construction. However, The Crest’s façade and brighter colour should imbue Prince Charles Crescent with much needed vibrancy and light.

From a distance, it is difficult to appreciate its actual size but the towering edifices pierce the sky in the northward side of Alexandra Road, dominating the entirety of Prince Charles Crescent.

Source: The Crest sales brochure

Source: The Crest sales brochure

Its mastermind, Toyo Ito, is a popular Japanese architect renowned for his eye for detail. The Crest, under his watch, is planned to be a marriage of nature with architecture boasting a use for even the most nuanced of corners.

Residents, especially those on the higher floors get a good view of the surroundings as far as Sentosa. When considering other high-rise buildings in the vicinity, The Crest is not as close to Tanglin Regency so as to be blocked by it.

Construction as of  2015

Construction as of 2015

Given that further up the hill on Jervois Lane toward Mount Echo Park and Jervois Road are landed properties, it makes The Crest one of two high-rise development past the Alexandra Canal of which it borders.

Even though The Crest is located near a private enclave, where driving is more often than not the necessary mode of transport, the project is still within walking distance of a number of eateries. Most are about a ten minute walk away from the projects.

The closest will be at Redhill MRT station. There’s a 7-11, Bakery Point, Ananas Café selling $2 Chicken Rice (if you can believe that), a Guardian pharmacy, several other food stalls and even a dentist.

Across the road where the HDB estates are, you’ll find more hawker centres but that will be an even longer walk. The closest thing to the development is Crescent Girls School next door.

Upcoming mixed development with supermarket next to Redhill MRT

Upcoming mixed development with supermarket next to Redhill MRT

There are no shopping malls in the immediate vicinity as the closest one is one train stop away at Tiong Bahru. AnchorPoint mall is also relatively close by, at about a five minute drive away. There’s an NTUC Fairprice located at Dawson Place, a 15 minute walk from The Crest. In a few more years, there will be a supermarket even closer.

There is a plot of land currently zoned as residential, next to the Metropolitan condo facing Redhill MRT station. This has since changed to a mixed development. The first level has been reserved for commercial units with the added URA decree that a supermarket be built on its premises.

When this happens, not only will it bring much needed modern amenities to this district, but land and unit sale prices for many of the neighbouring developments are expected to see upsides.

Though The Crest is about 10 minutes away from this new development, it’s still closer than the other options available currently.

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Analysis

The Crest is in an interesting place. Situated slightly behind Tanglin Regency and Tanglin View, it’s far enough to stand on its own. In fact, based on its location, it has more in common in location with the landed properties than it does with the other condominiums.

Furthermore, both Tanglin Regency and View were launched in 1998 and 2001 respectively, making any sort of comparison between them skewed.

Its closest competitors would be Alex Residences and Echelon which are both next to each other along Alexandra Road and about an eight minute walk from The Crest.

Even then, Wingcrown Investment’s avant-garde development offers single bedroom units that are significantly bigger than either Alex Residences or Echelon.

As such, its units are priced at a premium with 1-bedroom units transacting at a median of $1,643 psf. Units start at the $1m mark and very quickly hit the $1.5m mark.

An 861 sqft (80 sqm) 2-bedroom unit was transacted at $1.5m, in August 2015. Orientation and the storey of the unit in question are influencing factors. Editor’s note: The graph below has been updated to reflect the new transactions since February. The Crest has, by 15th Dec 2016, 52 units transacted.

Source: URA, PropertyGuru

Source: URA, PropertyGuru

If compared to 1-bedroom units at Alex Residences and Echelon, both of which are smaller – 474 and 452 units respectively – it won’t make much of a case for or against The Crest.

But one thing is certain about The Crest; its 1-bedroom units are the biggest out of all the new launches in the area.

Even Principal Gardens, an upcoming condominium from UOL, offers smaller unit sizes more in line with market expectations. Therefore, indicative prices (sales has yet to begin at the time of this writing) are upwards of $770K for 1-bedroom units and $1.18m onwards for 2-bedroom non dual-key units.

Principal Gardens then would be the more affordable option while nearby Alex Residences being the more attractive because of its closer proximity to Redhill MRT station as well as the upcoming mixed development with supermarket. The Crest sits isolated with amenities located quite a walk away, which under the hot Singapore sun, is not exactly time well spent.

The Crest, like Alex Residences, looks like it would be a defining structure in Redhill with its less conventional façade. This on its own is already attractive and will serve to draw people in though the higher prices makes The Crest more of a niched property which will likely see better sales if prices were to be lowered significantly to at least be on par with Alex Residences.

The developer may hesitate to do this as it would decrease overall profits but the alternative would be to see slow sales.

After all, Alex Residences is hardly the only new property upcoming. Echelon and even closer Principal Garden with smaller but more importantly, lower priced units will make The Crest stand out for all the wrong reasons.

Rental

The average transacted price of 3-bedroom units (incl. of regular, + study, DK) is around $2.4m. For Prince Charles Crescent, the monthly rent for 3-bedroom units is about $6,400.

Update: Median psf according to URA for District 3 in the past four quarter is $3.78. This is within normal expectations for the district. For units with higher quantum, this might pose as an unnecessary risk for investors although with the aforementioned mixed development incoming, this might change. Using the smallest unit transacted so far – 635 sqft – monthly rent with a 20% new build premium comes up to $2,880. The average quantum for a 635 sqft unit is $1,080,500 which brings gross rental yield to 3.2%.Statistically, this is a sound number as in implies potential. However, the area is currently home to many developments, several of which are priced lower and located closer to public transport and amenities. Investors for The Crest may struggle when fighting in the same pool for tenants. 

The Crest is still ideal for owners who’d prefer to reside in a relatively quieter area that is close but not too close to the main roads so as to avoid noise pollution. The upcoming green belt is another boon as is the focus on developing architecture that is surrounded by trees and waterscapes.

The Crest is attractive, perhaps the most attractive looking project in this area and considering that it shares premium location currently occupied by landed houses, it’s not surprising that the units – which start bigger than the competitors – are priced highly.

Furthermore, Wingcrown paid $960 psf or $516.3m for a massive 256,026 sqft (approx.) plot of land.

For scale, the plot of land that currently sees The Crest being built is about Echelon and Ascentia Sky combined. But Wingcrown may not be able to reduce the prices of its units by too much lest they run afoul of their shareholders.

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Summary

Though surrounded by many other developments with more storeys than it, The Crest sits on slightly higher ground, making it appear taller. It is ‘where life peaks at the top’ according to the developer’s marketing materials. The gardens on the rooftops certainly attest to this.

Price-wise, The Crest might peak more than its competitors, but it is still a visibly attractive development in a quieter and more private area than say, the high density Alexandra View where four skyscraper like developments fight for dominance.

One strong aspect of The Crest lies in its uncommonly shaped units. Each unit has a slightly different layout from the others in the development, making them somewhat more unique.

The avant-garde layout might be a little too different for buyers used to more conventional offerings but it does help when looking for interesting buzzwords to use when advertising for rent.

Furthermore, its very clearly Japanese design encompasses the entire project down to the units. The living space does elicit a certain calmness, despite the odd corners.

It is of course hard to quantify such feelings as different people have different reactions to certain things but there is an innate serenity that flows through the space, as if the odd corners when put together created something harmonious and thriving rather than sterile and boring.

The Crest overlooking the canal

The Crest overlooking the canal

Toyo Ito designed The Crest to be a harmonious blend between architecture and nature and it shows.

Take the blocks for example; these are tilted in such a way that the units won’t be looking into each other, thus affording the resident privacy without having to resort to blinds and curtains.

And the greenery being assimilated into the landscape of The Crest adds much needed brightness in what is currently a dreary and shadowy place.

Prince Charles Crescent isn’t exactly a nice place to look at. Now, it’s just quiet and isolated but with the advent of The Crest, the area will irrevocably change into something bright and inviting.

On that note, the completion of The Crest is hotly anticipated as it will inject much needed vibrancy into an otherwise dreary location.

The Crest 2017

The Crest in 2017

Future residents and even investors can find lots to love about The Crest because despite its slightly isolated nature, it’s relatively close to amenities and the MRT station. The walk there is not so bad considering the path toward the overhead bridge goes downhill.

The bridge is sheltered and once you’re across the road, the path between Echelon and Ascentia Sky is a straight line to the MRT station and the eateries. A slow walk gets you there in about 10 minutes, unless it rains.

While it is slightly more expensive than it should be given its isolated nature, it is a good-looking project with uncommon layouts that would appeal to buyers with a keen eye toward unique aesthetics.

The Crest can be called many things but cookie-cutter is certainly not one of them.

And in Singapore where condominiums sprout more fervently than trees, this is a win for Wingcrown Investments.Whether it converts into sales, is another issue entirely.

 

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Eric Wong

Christopher Chitty

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