United Engineers To Preview Dairy Farm Residences

SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) – The mixed-use development will be the first new launch in the Dairy Farm enclave in six years

The 460-unit Dairy Farm Residences sits on a 211,488 sq ft, 99-year leasehold site at the corner of Dairy Farm Road and Petir Road (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

For its 460-unit Dairy Farm Residences, Singapore-listed United Engineers Ltd (UEL) has come up with a novel sales gallery: the reception area is part café, gourmet grocers and nail spa, which hints at the retail offerings that future residents can look forward to. Prospective buyers can enjoy a taste of this on the preview weekend, where gourmet coffee and Udders ice-cream will be served.
Scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, the preview of Dairy Farm Residences will mark the first in the Dairy Farm area in the space of six years – since the launch of The Skywoods in 2013. The 420-unit, 99-year leasehold private condo by a consortium of three listed construction-cum-property development companies – Hock Lian Seng Holdings, King Wan Corp and TA Corp – was completed in 2016 and is fully sold now.
UEL’s Dairy Farm Residences sits on a 211,488 sq ft, 99-year leasehold site at the corner of Dairy Farm Road and Petir Road. “Although there are a number of new projects further down in the Hillview area, there have been no new ones in the Dairy Farm area for some years,” says Roy Tan, group managing director of UEL. “We decided to look at a number of GLS [government land sales] sites and collective sale sites that came up in the area. Then this mixed-use development site came up for sale, and we thought we should bid for it.”

Roy Tan and Stephanie Chua of UEL, the developer of the 460-unit Dairy Farm Residences (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Pent-up demand

Besides pent-up demand for a fresh residential offering in the Dairy Farm area, Tan believes the site fits UEL’s strategy: “There’s no point going head-on with other developers who are more aggressive in chasing more sites. The timing was good; it was one of the first GLS sites where the tender closed after the cooling measures.”
The ninth round of property cooling measures came into effect in July 2018, and the tender for the mixed-use development site on Dairy Farm Road closed in early September. UEL topped the five bids received and won the site with a bid of $368.8 million or $830 psf per plot ratio.
UEL appointed DP Architects as the design architect and EcoPlan Asia as the landscape architect. The upcoming mixed-use development will have two 15-storey blocks, and another two 5-storey residential blocks set amid landscaped gardens and overlooking a 50m lap pool. All the blocks have a north-south orientation, which maximises cross ventilation and reduces heat penetration. Additionally, units will enjoy views of either the Chestnut Avenue private housing estate or the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
The main entrance and lobby area of the residential component is from Petir Road, while access to the commercial podium will be from Dairy Farm Road. The commercial podium will have about 40,000 sq ft of retail space across two levels: the first and basement levels. Amenities will include a 10,000 sq ft supermarket, a food hall and a childcare centre, says Stephanie Chua, UEL’s head of development sales.
The reception area of the Dairy Farm Residences sales gallery showcases some of the retail offerings in the upcoming project, which is expected to feature 40,000 sq ft retail space (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Developer-managed commercial space

The commercial space will be managed by UEL, which has been managing the retail space in its own developments; for instance, the four-storey UE Square shopping mall, which is part of a mixed-use development located at Clemenceau Avenue, at the fringe of the CBD; and the three-storey Rochester Mall, which is part of the mixed-use development The Rochester in one-north, says Chua.
“I always think developers who manage the retail component in a mixed-use development will provide greater value for the property as they can control the tenant mix, the brands that they bring in and the overall flavour of the place,” says Ismail Gafoor, CEO of PropNex Realty. “If the space is carved up and sold to individuals, then you will have a bubble tea shop or a nail spa in every corner; and that affects the value of the property.” PropNex is one of the three marketing agencies for Dairy Farm Residences. The other two are OrangeTee & Tie and Savills Residential.
At about 40,000 sq ft, the retail portion of Dairy Farm Residences is “sizeable”, adds Gafoor. “It’s a self-contained retail development that can cater to many of the residents’ needs.”
There are bigger retail and F&B offerings nearby such as The Rail Mall in Upper Bukit Timah and Lot One Shoppers’ Mall in Choa Chu Kang. However, Dairy Farm Residences has an advantage over the other standalone residential developments in the vicinity: “Being mixed-use, it will enjoy a higher value and rental yield,” he points out.
Savills Residential managing director George Tan agrees. He believes Dairy Farm Residences’ upcoming retail offerings and its proximity to Dairy Farm Nature Park, the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the German European School Singapore “will enhance the appeal of the development”.
One of the attractions of living in the Dairy Farm area is its proximity to Dairy Farm Nature Park (left) and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Facilities and accessibility

At Dairy Farm Residences, facilities include an 84m Valley Pool sitting on the topmost level of the podium block, barbeque pits, yoga deck, and a clubhouse fronting a 50m lap pool. The retail podium and the gated residences have their respective basement parking facilities, adds UEL’s Chua.
Once considered rather remote, the Dairy Farm area has become more accessible by public transport following the opening of Bukit Panjang and Hillview MRT Stations on the Downtown Line in late 2017. According to UEL’s Chua, the developer will provide free shuttle service to the two stations in the first year after the completion of Dairy Farm Residences, which is scheduled for 2024.
The walk to Hillview MRT Station from Dairy Farm Residences takes less than 10 minutes and is mainly covered except for one road junction, says PropNex’s Gafoor.
Just behind Dairy Farm Residences is the new campus of the German European School Singapore which opened in August last year. “It’s an added value proposition for expatriate families with children who are students or for those who are teachers and other campus staff,” adds Gafoor.
The showflat of a 710 sq ft, two-bedroom unit (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)


Dairy Farm Residences was designed to resemble a resort, says UEL’s Chua. In terms of unit mix, there are 240 two-bedroom units of 624 to 775 sq ft; 200 three-bedroom units of 915 to 1,313 sq ft; and 20 four-bedroom units of 1,324 to 1,475 sq ft. Two-bedroom units will be priced from under $1 million. Indicative price range will range from $1,500 to $1,700 psf, says UEL’s Tan.
“This is in line with recent launches in the Hillview area,” he adds. “While every residential project in the area can boast of being close to nature too, the difference is that Dairy Farm Residences has a retail component. The added convenience that it provides does not compromise the tranquillity of the development.”
PropNex’s Gafoor considers the price range “attractive”, as integrated developments launched this year, namely Sengkang Grand Residences and The Woodleigh Residences, saw units sold at average prices of about $1,700 psf and $1,900 psf respectively, notes Gafoor.
Given the unit sizes at Dairy Farm Residences, the project should attract a good mix of investors and owner-occupiers, says Savills’ Tan. “There are those who are right-sizing or buying a unit for their children so they can live near them,” he adds. “This applies especially to those living in the landed housing estate of Chestnut Avenue.”
There are also HDB upgraders, especially those who have paid fully for their public housing flats in HDB estates such as Bukit Panjang and Choa Chu Kang and are looking to upgrade to private property, notes Savills’ Tan.

Dairy Farm got its name from the dairy establishment set up in the 1930s with Friesian cows that provided milk under the Magnolia brand. It was one of the first tropical dairy farms in the world (PHoto: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)


Dairy Farm heritage

The gathering place located between the retail and residential components of Dairy Farm Residences will have two landscaped sculptures of Friesian cows, a nod to the area’s history as one of the world’s first tropical dairy farms, says Savills’ Tan.
It started in the 1930s when Fred Heron, the managing director of Cold Storage, imported 24 Friesian cows with the goal of providing expatriate children with pasteurised milk and set up the dairy establishment at the foothills of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The milk was packaged in triangular cartons under the Magnolia brand. At its peak, the dairy farm had some 800 cows, and the success led to the area taking on the name Dairy Farm. Even though that enterprise was discontinued in the early 1970s, the name has endured.
The only physical reminders of the historic dairy farm are two stone sculptures of placid Friesian cows outside an airy cowshed which has been converted into Wallace Education Centre, and the Wallace Trail, both named after Alfred Russel Wallace, a British naturalist, anthropologist and biogeographer who co-discovered the theory of evolution with American Charles Darwin. Wallace made an eight-year journey across the Malay Archipelago from 1854 to 1862, and Singapore was his first stop.
Since then, the Dairy Farm area has morphed into a tranquil residential enclave, surrounded by greenery. The first residential development in the area is The Dairy Farm, a 477-unit residential development with 10 retail shops, completed in 1989. The development sits on a sprawling, freehold, 750,019 sq ft site. The project had launched a collective sale attempt last year at a price tag of $1.68 billion, which did not take off in the wake of the cooling measures.
In the Petir Road area, there is a cluster of high-rise condos, namely Tree House by City Developments, which was launched in 2010; followed by Wing Tai Holdings’ Foresque Residences in 2011; and Malaysian developer SP Setia’s Eco Sanctuary, which debuted in 2012. All these developments have since been completed and fully sold.
“The name of the project ‘Dairy Farm Residences’ will resonate with some buyers and they may consider this area to be more desirable than others in the vicinity,” says Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie.

The show suite of a typical four-bedroom unit at Dairy Farm Residences (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)


‘Unlikely to wait further’

Sun reckons home buyers who are serious about buying are “unlikely to wait further”. Being increasingly prudent, home buyers have realised that “the longer they wait, the higher the selling prices of these new launches will be”, she adds. This has been borne out by recent new launches where prices rose after the initial phase.
Home buyers looking for a property in the Upper Bukit Timah area will generally consider projects in Districts 21 and District 23. These include the Toh Tuck and Kismis areas, Jalan Jurong Kechil, to Chestnut area, Petir Road, Dairy Farm and further down at Hillview. “The existing and upcoming launches in District 21 and 23 are located in precincts with their own distinct characteristics that cater to buyers with different preferences,” says Sun.
Well aware that buyers have alternative choices in terms of new projects – sometimes in the same neighbourhood – developers have become more sensitive in pricing their projects, notes Sun. “There will be some price differentiation for different projects based on design, layout, branding and product offering,” she adds.
A developer’s reputation is also increasingly important to home buyers. UEL has a rich history dating back more than 100 years. It was involved in the building of landmarks including the former Singapore Supreme Court, Cavenagh Bridge, OCBC Centre and the British High Commission.
More recent developments by UEL include the 99-year leasehold, 862-unit, private condo Eight Riversuites, which was launched in 2012 and completed in 2016; orchardgateway retail mall, which opened in 2014; and UE BizHub East, a nine-storey business park development in Changi Business Park that was completed in 2012.
The showflat of a 936 sq ft, three-bedroom unit at Dairy Farm Residences (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Changes in shareholders ‘unlikely to affect operations’

According to UEL’s Tan, the group will continue to seek out more residential development sites and investment properties for recurring income, “depending on market conditions”.
The 47-year-old Tan assumed the group managing director position at UEL in August 2017. However, he had been overseeing UEL’s property division since November 2014, before taking on the additional role of group CFO in February 2015. Prior to that, Tan was with WBL Corp since 2006, where he was group chief strategy officer before it was acquired by UEL in 2013.
Singapore-listed UEL, whose core businesses are in real estate development, property investment, management and hospitality, received a mandatory general offer from Singapore-listed, China-based property developer, Yanlord Land Group on Oct 25. This was after Yanlord had bought out the stakes of both Perennial Real Estate Holdings and Heng Yue Holdings. The result is that Yanlord is now the biggest shareholder of UEL.
“Whatever is happening at the shareholder level does not affect the management and operations of the firm,” assures UE’s Tan.

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Source: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/singapore-condo-and-hdb-rents-rise-in-march-rental-volume-also-up-srx-flash-estimates

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