8 new home sites within last 12 months could add more than 5,000 homes

By Cheryl Lim
20 October 2011

Punggol, Singapore’s newest option for waterfront living, is fast entering a new phase of development as private housing takes off in the new town.

The Government has just announced the release of a large 1.8ha private condo site, right next to Punggol MRT station, which is able to yield 540 homes.

The site is just the latest in a string of new home sites in Punggol. Seven other residential sites have been put up for sale, sold or developed in the last 12 months.

These eight plots could add more than 5,000 homes over the next few years.

Analysts note that public flats are usually the first type of homes introduced into a new area as they help build critical mass. Then private homes pave the way for the next wave of development.

‘It’s partially because private developments are meant for upgraders within the estate,’ said Mr Colin Tan, head of research and consultancy at Chesterton Suntec International. ‘If most of the public housing in an area has been occupied for less than the five-year minimum occupation period, then it’s difficult to shore up demand for the project,’ he added.

The estate, which has long carried the stigma of being too remote, is buzzing. In July, a Frasers CentrePoint-Keong Hong Construction partnership bagged an executive condo (EC) site at the Punggol Way-Punggol Field junction.

ECs are a public-private housing hybrid and eventually become fully private.

A few weeks ago, a joint venture company consisting of Capital Development and ZACD Investment clinched another residential plot at Punggol Field.

Still, some home buyers have snubbed the new town, saying it lacks the well-established infrastructure of neighbourhoods such as Toa Payoh and Tampines.

But many others, like Ms Vivien Poh, are unfazed by this, banking instead on the area’s development potential.

The 51-year-old financial consultant said: ‘Many years ago, I was captivated by Punggol after seeing the pictures of the Punggol Waterway project… Some people say the town lacks facilities and infrastructure but it reminds me of what Tampines was like back when it was first established. Now it’s not easy to buy a place in Tampines. It’s all about looking into the future.’

Like-minded buyers have boosted sales at several large projects there.

Despite being some distance away from an MRT station, Qingjian Realty’s RiverParc Residence EC project has sold 99 per cent of its 504 units since its July launch, at an average price of $670 psf.

Sales at projects closer to the Punggol MRT station have performed even better.

Prive, another EC, has sold all 680 units. More than 270 units were snapped up on the first day of its launch last December. Since then, units have been sold at an average price of $680psf.

A more recent development, A Treasure Trove by Sim Lian Group, has moved more than 730 of the 882 units, with units fetching a median price of $915 psf.

The newest is Watertown, an upcoming mixed-use project by Frasers Centrepoint, Far East Organization and Sekisui House. The Straits Times understands starting prices for the more than 900 units are set to be above $1,000 psf.

Market experts say the success of such projects will encourage town planners to consider releasing more sites for sale.

Two other plots are up for grabs. The latest 1.8ha site, at the corner of Punggol Central and Punggol Place, will be put up for sale on Oct 27 and the tender for a site at the corner of Punggol Central and Edgedale Plains will close on Nov 3. That plot can yield an estimated 610 units.

Although the new town is far from the city and the Central Business District, Mr Tan Kok Keong, head of research at OrangeTee, said buyers can get good value at Punggol, given the $13 million plan to put in attractions like a promenade and activities like horse-riding and fishing.

‘If more commercial properties come up closer to Punggol, it could mean more employment opportunities nearer to the town and that would mean an even bigger boost for Punggol’s appeal.’


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Agence France-Presse in Sydney
30 June 2010

A man who murdered a Chinese student in Australia was on Wednesday given a life sentence for the brutal attack, which the judge described as a premeditated, ‘thrill’ killing of a complete stranger.

Stavros Papadopoulos, 22, pleaded guilty to murdering 26-year-old University of Tasmania accounting student Zhang ‘Tina’ Yu in his Hobart apartment in June last year, reports said.

His accomplice, 22-year-old Daniel Jo Williams, was sentenced to 10 years in jail on a charge of manslaughter.

Tasmania’s Supreme Court heard that the men met Yu at a takeaway pizza shop in the early hours of the morning and had driven her to Papadopoulos’s apartment, The Mercury newspaper in Hobart said.

Over the next three hours, she was subjected to such terrible violence and sexual abuse by Papadopoulos that she pleaded to be killed quickly, it said.

After being repeatedly punched, thrown against walls and dragged around by her hair, Papadopoulos suddenly smashed a large concrete brick onto Yu’s head before undressing her, placing her in a bathtub and drowning her.

Williams, who had spent most of this time smoking cannabis, then helped his friend choke Yu in the bath before they placed her body in the boot of their car and dumped it in a river.

In sentencing, Justice David Porter said “little, if anything” had been put forward to explain Papadopoulos’ depraved behaviour.

“This was a brutal and terrible killing of a complete stranger,” he said.

“It was done with forethought and for the sake or thrill of doing it.”

The court heard that earlier on the night of the murder, Papadopoulos had told Williams he wanted to “kill and rape a bitch”.

Papadopoulos will have to serve at least 25 years before he is eligible for parole.


Being your own boss requires more than just big ambition

Phyllis Korkki, New York Times
27 June 2010

Sitting in their cubicles, rolling their eyes over the latest bureaucratic slowdown or marvelling at the near-incompetence of higher-ups, some employees are thinking: If only I were my own boss, I wouldn’t have these problems.

No, they wouldn’t. They’d have a host of different problems. Still, some people make the leap to self-employment and find it was worth the risk.

How can a salaried employee with some savings tell whether the idea of becoming self-employed is a viable option and not just an escape fantasy? And how can a recently laid-off employee with some severance pay determine whether this is the right time to pursue her dream of being an entrepreneur?

First, you must be highly motivated to sell a specific product or service that your research has found to be marketable. And your business idea should be based on expertise that you already have, says Susan Urquhart-Brown, author of The Accidental Entrepreneur and a career coach. Learning how to run a business was hard enough without also learning a new skill from scratch, she said.

Some soon-to-be entrepreneurs came up with a solution to a business problem and found their company was unwilling to pursue it, said William Sahlman, a professor at Harvard Business School with a focus on entrepreneurship. “There’s a mismatch between what they’re passionate about and feel ought to be done and what the company is prepared to support,” Sahlman said.

Motivation, drive, passion – these words are often used in connection with entrepreneurs.

“They need to be passionate about what they do because that will carry them through the tough times,” Urquhart-Brown said.

As an entrepreneur, you also need to be an excellent multi-tasker, because you’re in charge of your own marketing, payroll, administrative work, taxes and health insurance. Oh, and don’t forget – you also have to deliver a product or service.

At first, the actual business might be secondary because you would need to devote most of your time to marketing, Urquhart-Brown said. If you cringe at the idea of selling yourself, vow to hire someone for that task once the company has customers.

Expect to devote long hours to your enterprise, said Jessica Pryce-Jones, author of Happiness at Work and chief executive of iOpener, a workplace consulting firm.

At one of her consulting clients, Pryce-Jones once talked to a high-level employee who was complaining bitterly about having to work 40 hours a week. “He thought that if he went freelance he would magically become happy,” she said. She asked him: “How many hours a week do you think you’d have to work if you were freelance?”

The man put the number at about 35. She told him he needed to double that number.

And those hours, though more flexible, can be unpredictable. People who preferred a fixed structure were probably better off as salaried employees, Pryce-Jones said, whereas entrepreneurs preferred a more fluid work environment. They actually thrived on the stress of uncertainty and the adrenaline rush it gave them, she said.

In addition to structure and predictability, a workplace offered a sense of community and belonging, which was hugely important to happiness, Pryce-Jones said. One of the biggest problems faced by the self-employed was loneliness, she said. So make sure to connect regularly with others, she advised.

Another advantage of having an employer is access to benefits like health insurance. If fewer businesses offered comprehensive benefits, it could tip the scale towards self-employment, said Sara Horowitz, executive director of the Freelancers Union.

A harder adjustment for the self-employed was dealing with the lack of a steady paycheque, Horowitz said, as work tended to be feast or famine. And even when freelancers do get work, there is a chance that they may not be paid.

Given the risks, it’s no surprise the failure rate for new businesses is high. But even in the face of failure, most entrepreneurs are not willing to give up. “Once they taste having more control over their lives,” Sahlman said, “they almost never go back.”




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