Thursday, November 8, 2007

Tiong Bahru Sers flats to be rented for up to $4,500

The Straits Times
Nov 8, 2007

UNIQUE FLATS: Katong Hostel will preserve the buildings' heritage, as they are among the early batches of flats.

Winning bidder in HDB pilot scheme aims to target foreign students, expatriates

By Joyce Teo

A COMPANY that has just won an HDB tender in a pilot scheme plans to rent out 120 flats at Tiong Bahru for up to $4,500 a month to foreign students and expatriates.

It is the first step to boost the supply of flats in the rental market amid growing demand.

It aims to put flats vacated under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme to better use.
Former residents of the 120 flats have moved to new and better flats nearby.

The HDB said the flats that had been vacated were identified for its rental scheme, pending long-term development plans.

The Tiong Bahru flats will get a $3 million facelift and be ready for tenants by the year's end.

The winning tenderer, Katong Hostel, which provides international student housing, will be the managing agent for the 60 three-room and 60 four-room walk-up flats.

The firm, part of the privately-held Vita Group of hostels, plans to rent out at least two blocks to students and possibly the rest as service apartments to expatriates.

Katong Hostel won the tender with the highest bid of $230,280 a month, 22 per cent above the next bid of $188,000 a month.

That price is the sum the firm will pay HDB to lease the flats for three years, with an option for three more years.

Katong Hostel aims to rent out these flats - Blocks 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 in Tiong Bahru Road - at a relatively high price of between $3,500 and $4,500 a month.

While rents in the Tiong Bahru area have risen significantly, the HDB flats there have so far achieved only up to $2,500 a month in rent, said HSR property group's executive director Eric Cheng.

But the Tiong Bahru flats are different in that they will be managed and aimed at a specific clientele, said Ms Joyce Sim, 25, a Vita group director.

She said the student housing - to be charged on a per person basis with two to a flat - is aimed at those looking for quality housing.

These could be doctorate students, for instance, who could be paying their own fees or sponsored by firms.

'These Tiong Bahru flats are among the early batches of flats,' Ms Sim said. 'We will preserve the heritage of the buildings, which have a unique design.'

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