• Christopher Chitty
  • 29 March 2016

Far East Organization is the largest property developer in Singapore and have developed over 500 properties in Singapore, especially in the Orchard Road area. It is the only developer in the world to have won eight FIABCI Prix d’Excellence Awards, which is considered the highest honour in international real estate.

Project Name: The Siena

Address: 33 Tan Kim Cheng Road

Type: SoHo Condo/Apartment

Site area: approx. 29,509.3 sqft

Tenure: 99-year leasehold

District: 10

Configuration: 54 units in three, 5-storey towers

Unit types: 1-bedroom units (538, 678 sqft)

2-bedroom units (753 sqft)

2-bedroom with study (786, 797 sqft)

Estimated TOP: end 2016

Project Details

The showflat for The Siena is at River Valley Road, next to the former AA Centre. The absolutely massive showflat is home to several of Far East Organization’s properties, of which The Siena is one.

Being a boutique development with three bedroom types, of which the biggest – 3-bedroom compact- is fully sold, only a 2-bedroom unit with balcony is on display.

2BR living room and open kitchen

2BR living room and open kitchen

For this particular unit, there are two balconies. One is attached to the living room and the other to the bedroom. From the main door the cooking area is immediately visible, as is often the case with boutique apartments.  Open kitchens are part of the function and aesthetic.

The kitchen is outfitted with Miele branded appliances with gas-operated stove, instead of induction.

Open kitchen and common bedroom

Open kitchen and common bedroom

The common bedroom in the units come with a platform deck built in. This deck is typically used as sleeping quarters, with a mattress up top while the bottom is left for the cupboards and study area.

The partition for the bedroom are slide-able, thus allowing the owner to customize the space to an extent, whenever necessary.

The common bedroom without the platform would be sufficient for a single bed, the built-in wardrobe and maybe a small work table but with the platform taking advantage of the vertical space, there’s availability for additional personalization.

Common bedroom with platform deck

Common bedroom with platform deck

The master bedroom which fits a king size bed is nicely done up. It is well-designed, even if the bathing area is a little small. The sanity wares are from high-end brands, including an automated toilet, which is a rarity in most developments. The vanity sink is also a nice touch with the full length mirror.

Master bedroom

Master bedroom

It might seem conventional looking to some but being conventional-looking in this case is not a bad thing. The design is good, there’s space to walk about in and it does not feel cramped. Those are important aspects to achieve than just pure aesthetics, which the master bedroom does.

And when sufficient space is provided, further customization is made easier by the resident and their contractor, not that much is needed with a Siena unit.

Master bathroom

Master bathroom

Although there are only three SoHo bedroom types, there are also several SoHo-lite units available at a lower price. These units do not come with the platform deck and use different brands for the kitchen appliances and sanitary wares, such as Smeg over Miele. The gas stove will also be replaced with an induction stove.

The five-storey boutique development has an attractive façade. Its cooler and contemporary façade is a much needed balance with the white-washed walls and red-tinged roofs of the bungalows opposite it.

The Siena 3D model

The Siena 3D model

For a small development, The Siena has its facilities planned out well.  There are two pools on the ground level – a small one near the main entrance and a much bigger one at the back, facing Farrer Road but hidden from view by the wall and planted trees.

There is no tennis court since its size prevents it from having one.

The Siena swimming pool

The Siena swimming pool

The back gate is also located there but this is only accessible by residents. Instead of walking around to Kim Cheng Road, residents can shave off a few minutes by using the back gate to and fro the MRT station.

The bus stop is in front of the development, thus keeping at least one option of transportation within convenient distance. The best part of the development however is its roof terrace which is available for all residents. Up there, there’s yet another pool as well as several lounging areas amidst mini-gardens.

Sky garden and pool

Sky garden and pool

This abundance of green is helpful in keeping the heat and noise manageable although The Siena does not get much of the west sun. It’s not certain if it’ll receive much breeze either but with the plants and trees planted around, it should at least be cool.

The roof terrace looks like it might become a regular spot for residents to relax in. This is despite it being somewhat on the level with the Farrer Flyover with little but traffic to look at. The other direction would be to face the bungalows.

Yet, while the view might not be impressive, the roof terrace looks like it’ll get by without the need for a view. The only concern for now, is if it’ll give the residents lounging or swimming up there some privacy.

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Named after Singapore’s highest hill (despite it being in Bukit Panjang), Bukit Timah has the most number of private properties compared to other districts. As a result, residential properties tend to be more expensive in Bukit Timah than anywhere else in Singapore.

Also located in Bukit Timah is the Botanic Gardens, Singapore’s only UNESCO World heritage site. And close to the Botanic Gardens is where Far East Organization is building its latest boutique development – The Siena.

Getting there

The Siena sits between two MRT stations – Farrer Road and Botanic Gardens – of which the latter is closest. Both stations are on the Circle Line but Botanic Gardens is also an interchange to the newly extended Downtime Line, going north toward Bukit Panjang or down toward Stevens MRT Interchange (connected to the Thomson East Coast Line).

Botanic Gardens

Botanic Gardens

From Botanic Gardens, travelling east is convenient, as the circle line connects to Paya Lebar Interchange on the east-west line. From there, getting to Bedok, Pasir Ris or Changi Airport is about a 15 minute ride away. Total journey takes roughly 40 minutes.

The Siena may be closest to Botanic Gardens, but it is still walkable from Farrer Road. From Botanic Gardens however, take Exit A and ride the escalators to the street level. Turn left once you’re on street level and in front will be Cluny Court, along Cluny Park Road and Farrer Road.

Cluny Court

Cluny Court

Gastronomia is the most prominent eatery there, but there are several others small restaurants next to it.

Behind Cluny Court is Serene Centre and while it was once accessible via Jalan Serene, new development Cluny Park Residences bars the way with its ongoing construction.

You can still walk past the French Embassy and Cluny Park Residences and make a right toward Jalan Kembang Melati but that would be taking the long way round to get to Serene Centre and the nearest traffic stop to bring you across to where The Siena is.

The quickest way would be to walk toward Cluny Court, and follow the path along Farrer Road. Instead of taking the long walk around toward Cluny Park Residences main entrance, you’ll come up alongside Serene Centre, in less than half the time.

Serene Centre

Serene Centre

Serene Center is an old heartland mall so there’s little by way of shopping here. There is however, a MacDonald’s and a few smaller eateries like Island Creamery inside.

Most of the commercial units are like salons and clinics, though the biggest store is Toy Station, a large toy store that carries anything from the latest Lego collections to popular figures from the 90s. This was where several ‘Magic: The Gathering’ competitions took place making it a popular haunt for tertiary students.

Serene Center overlooks the Farrer Flyover and The Siena is on the opposite side of the road. These roads are long and usually prone to high traffic. The closest traffic stop is located in front of Cluny Park Residences and less than a minute from the entrance of Serene Center.

Farrer Road along Cluny Park Residences

Farrer Road along Cluny Park Residences

The traffic stop leads through and under the flyover where on the other side, is another traffic stop. This side of the road goes toward Bukit Timah Road while the previous one is an ingress from Bukit Timah Road into Farrer Road.

Once across, it is about a five minute stroll left and past Lutheran Towers toward The Siena. There is a bus stop in front of the Siena with eight buses:

  • 48 goes toward Marine Parade and Bedok North
  • 93 goes to Eunos Interchange
  • 153 & 165 goes toward Hougang Central Interchange
  • 174 goes to Boon Lay Interchange
  • 186 goes to St. Michael’s Terrace
  • 855 goes to Yishun Interchange
  • 961 goes to Woodlands Interchange

Riding the bus to places further east will take over an hour however. From Botanic Gardens to Paya Lebar Interchange, the ride is around 25 minutes.

Bus stop in front of The Siena

Bus stop in front of The Siena

The Siena is along Farrer Road though the main entrance is on quieter Tan Kim Cheng Road, overlooking the bungalows. The quickest way out for residents is Lutheran Road, which connects to Farrer Road and Farrer Flyover.

However, residents won’t be able to drive onto the flyover from Lutheran Road, nor can they make any U-turns as this is a one-way road. The egress will be a left turn to Bukit Timah Road or straight ahead along Farrer Road toward Adam Road.

The Siena along Farrer Road and Flyover

The Siena along Farrer Road and Flyover

As mentioned above, Farrer Road heads left toward Bukit Timah Road. Further along Bukit Timah Road is Coronation Shopping Plaza which is also where the closest grocery store – NTUC Fairprice – is located.

Just before that is Crown Centre, another heartland mall with more dining options like Pizza Hut and Japanese Dining Bar.

Coronation Shopping Plaza is actually about a five minute walk down from Crown Centre so residents can opt to take one of three buses from the bus stop in front of The Siena – 174, 852 & 961 – one stop down to the bus stop at Crown Centre and walk.

Next to The Siena is Saint Margaret’s Secondary School. This is the closest school to the development. Nanyang Primary School, located between King’s Road and Coronation Road is also within the vicinity though it’s about a ten minute walk or so from The Siena.

Source: GoogleMaps

Source: GoogleMaps

But being within 1km from the development provides residents with children of an age the opportunity to be enrolled in the primary school with a higher chance of admittance.

Hwa Chong Institution, an independent school for students aged 12 to 18, is also relatively close by. Located along Bukit Timah Road, it’s about a five minute drive straight from Coronation Shopping Plaza.

While the nearest amenities like restaurants and malls and MRT station require some walking, The Siena benefits from their short distance. Residents are expected to have a fairly inclusive living experience, with only the nearby road and highway to bedevil them.

But as is often the case in many developments, shutting the windows will drown out the noise largely. With the greenery and the pool providing additional width between the road and the units, the relative peace won’t be shattered.

The Siena looks on point for its 2016 TOP with much already completed.

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With only 51 units available, the fact that 31 have been sold between 2013 and 2015 implies that even if sales is a little slow now, there’s still much interest in the property. Majority of sales occurred in 2013 while 2014 resulted only in a handful. 2015 saw an end to the stagnant sales with at least one sale in every month of the year.

The latest transacted was in the second week of January 2016 for a 904 sqft 3-bedroom unit.

Though it is early in the year, especially given that the months of December to late February/early March tend to be slow where property is involved, the transaction suggests that Siena will continue to sell, especially now that most of the project is almost finished, and thus serve as an accurate visual cue for people still on the fence about its execution.

As the residential outlook in Bukit Timah is mostly private, with a large percentage of bungalows, prices tend to be higher here than in other parts of the island.

As a result, 538 sqft 1-bedroom units have an average of $2,107 psf. This amounts to a median transacted of $1.13m.

Source: PropertyGuru, URA

Source: PropertyGuru, URA

However, quite a number of these bungalows are freehold. Before Siena, Dukes Residence, which is just across the road from where Siena is being built, was the only other condominium in the area.

Dukes Residence is also freehold like the bungalows. Even with Duke and Siena, the vast majority are landed properties which means rental in the area can be lower than Redhill, for example.

Property prices however are high. Duke being a 2011 launch, has a median psf of $1,643 for its smallest unit – 926 sqft – with a median transacted of $1.52m.

Siena’s closest size will be its second largest unit: a 904 sqft 3-bedroom with a median psf of $2,123 at an average transacted of $1.92m.

Duke has bigger and lesser units – 42 – compared with Siena’s 51.

More than anything, this huge disparity illustrates the drastic size reduction in unit sizes that have occurred over the years. Siena’s smallest unit size at 538 sqft is larger than what is typically considered a shoebox which is a good move, as the better aesthetic and layout all play to Siena’s strengths.


Until Siena is launched, Dukes is the only development that would see a high volume of rental compared to the landed properties which is likely why according to URA data, that the median rental yield is at a low 2.10%.

Farrer Road rental yield does slightly better at 3.61% while rental yield along Bukit Timah Road is at 3.15%.

In Bukit Timah, where public housing is at the lowest compared to other districts and most landed residential properties are bought for personal stay, it’s not indicative of its true potential.

With that said, The Siena is expected to make a small impact in its area with rentable units arriving on the scene.

Taking Dukes Residence as a guide again, 3-bedroom units in the 1,200 sqft range have been rented out for as high as $5,500 per month. Units in the 900 sqft range, come in at about $3,800 monthly which is decent.

Given that the largest unit in Siena is 980 sqft, median rental yield for Siena is about 2.7% with a $5,5000 monthly cost, which is on par with URA’s data.

The monthly rental amount is quite high with prices similar to properties in Redhill. There is certainly investment potential with The Siena even if personal stay is a more common trend in this district.

One big hurdle to The Siena’s future is upcoming boutique development, Cluny Park Residences.

The smallest units there are 2-bedroom units at 753 sqft. These have transacted so far at $1.92m, matching the quantum of Siena’s 904 sqft unit.

But where The Siena requires residents to walk out a slight distance for amenities and transport, residents of Cluny Park Residences benefits from being literally across the road from Botanic Gardens MRT station, Botanic Gardens proper, Serene Centre and Cluny Court with all its eateries.

But The Siena is being sold as a SoHo development and these developments tend to be favored by young adults and single working professionals. Suffice to say, as both developments are boutiques, they’ll compete but healthily, with ample interest in both.

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The Siena shows that boutique developments in Singapore, especially SoHo ones, are popular almost anywhere in Singapore.

The Siena has high ceilings which helps to alleviate some of the space constraints and being SoHo, the platform decks take advantage of vertical space.

The SoHo lite units do not come with a platform but it does allow a buyer to purchase it at a lower quantum and build their own platform if they want.

The Siena main gate

The Siena main gate

Much of its popularity is attributed to both Far East Organization’s pedigree and Bukit Timah’s perceived prestigious address. Even with Farrer Road running parallel to The Siena, its location is good.

Amenities and transportation are within walking distance if not a bus stop away and Bukit Timah Road – the longest road in Singapore – goes west to places like Clementi Road and Ngee Ann Polytechnic, north-east toward the CTE (Central Expressway) or Rochor Road and Nicoll Highway in the east.

The road it’s on are occupied by private landed properties with the exception of Dukes Residence. Even then, Dukes’ main entrance is on the other side, along Duke’s Road instead of Tan Kim Cheng Road and thus keeping that side low density.

It’s likely that people who buy units at The Siena will be doing so for their own stay, though there is a decent investment opportunity here.

Boutique apartments, especially those with the SoHo tag, tend to be attractive for young working professionals. And with Stevens MRT already up and running, Botanic Gardens MRT is now connected to both Stevens and Newton MRT stations.

With this added layer of convenience, The Siena becomes an attractive destination for professionals working in those areas who want to live in a quieter but upmarket neighborhood.


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Eric Wong

Christopher Chitty

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