Complete Property Market Updates of Singapore

July 24, 2008

Developers to unveil more modestly-priced condos

Filed under: Developer News,General,Property Investment — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:58 am

Dakota slated for preview this month at under $1,000 psf average, lower than earlier indicated

Developers are getting ready to release mass- to mid-market condos, encouraged by the response to modestly-priced developments recently.

City Developments Ltd (CDL) previewed Shelford Suites about a week ago at an average price believed to be around $1,550 psf, although CDL’s spokeswoman said the average price for the five-storey freehold project in the Shelford/Adam roads vicinity is in the $1,500 to $1,700 psf range.


Testing the market: CDL previewed Shelford Suites about a week ago at $1,500-$1,700 psf. The group is also aiming to preview the first phase of Livia, a condo in Pasir Ris, by month’s end or early July.

The property giant is also aiming to preview by the end of this month or early July the first phase of Livia, a 724-unit condo at Pasir Ris Drive 1.

The 99-year leasehold condo, near Pasir Ris MRT Station, is being developed by a joint venture involving CDL, Hong Realty and Hong Leong Holdings.

‘The average price will be revealed closer to the preview,’ CDL’s spokeswoman said.

However, market expectation is that CDL will price the project attractively, at below $700 psf for the initial phase.

Those taken in by the charms of riverfront-living close to the city can look forward to Ho Bee’s and NTUC Choice Homes’ preview of The Dakota later this month.

The average price of the 99-year leasehold condo is expected to be ‘under $1,000 psf’, BT understands. This is lower than than the $1,000-1,100 psf average price expectation Ho Bee had indicated in June last year when the developers emerged as the top bidder for the plot at a state tender.

The 348-unit project is expected to be 20 storeys high and will front Geylang River. It will also be close to Dakota MRT Station, which opens on the Circle Line next year. The Dakota will comprise six blocks with a mix of two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments, and penthouses.

Over in Pasir Ris, CDL’s spokeswoman said that the company is in ‘in the final stage’ of preparing a phased soft launch of Livia. The condo is targeted at the mass market and will comprise several blocks of 15 to 16 storeys with two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments, and penthouses.

Elsewhere on the island, freehold projects with tiny studio units dubbed ’shoebox apartments’ (ranging from under 400 sq ft to about 500 sq ft in size) in places like Sophia Road and Race Course Road, have been selling fairly quickly at around $1,100 to $1,400 psf in the past couple of months.

Over in the Botanic Gardens vicinity, UOL Group, Kheng Leong and Orix Corporation will officially launch today Nassim Park Residences condo.

Nearly 50 units have been sold at an average $3,000-3,200 psf since the preview began the week of Vesak Day, although this is expected to go up slightly from today.

Source : Business Times – 10 Jun 2008

Good investment deals in Thai market

Filed under: General,Property Investment,Thailand — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:50 am

THAILAND offers some of Asia’s best real estate investments. High-quality contemporary properties in prime locations continue to drive prices and build the country’s position regionally, but players say government barriers for overseas buyers are crimping growth.


Royal Phuket Marina: The resort towns of Phuket and Pattaya are the most popular locations outside Bangkok for foreign investors. Thais show less interest buying there

Bangkok’s luxury condominium market achieved record prices six months ago when a penthouse suite at The Sukhothai Residences sold for 408 million baht (S$17 million) or 342,000 baht per square metre (psm). But while more than double the average cost of luxury accommodation in Bangkok, this was about half the cost of a similar apartment in Singapore or Hong Kong, where prices range from 655,000 to 667,000 baht psm, according to Jones Lang Lasalle.

The research also shows Bangkok properties generate more profit. Average rental yields are 4.8 to 5.1 per cent of the initial purchase price per year, compared with 3.1 per cent in Hong Kong and 2.7 per cent in Singapore.

More than 10,600 units will be completed in downtown Bangkok this year, of which 34 per cent will be high end, says CB Richard Ellis (CBRE).

Investing in quality properties close to Bangkok’s underground and skytrain routes is the safest bet, says Songkran Issara, managing director of Charn Issara property developers.

‘There is strong demand if a project is in the right location and of the right quality,’ says Aliwassa Pathnadabutr, managing director of CBRE (Thailand). ‘People are prepared to pay a high price for such products.’

She says Thai buyers at the top end of the market will typically pay up to 150,000 baht psm. And they will pay even more for top-end projects like The Sukhothai Residences, where 30 per cent of buyers are paying an average of 200,000 baht psm.

Developer Raimon Land says sales at The River, an 842-unit twin-tower development being built on the banks of Bangkok’s Chaopraya River, demonstrate Thailand’s investment potential. Prices there have risen from 145,000 to 250,000 baht psm since the sales launch in March 2007.

And some players reckon there is plenty of upside yet. ‘The market is still undervalued and I expect significant growth over the next five years, especially at the high end,’ says Darren White, president of real estate consultancy Binswanger (Thailand). ‘Prices would rise again if young expats living here were able to borrow locally.’

Thai law prevents foreigners owning land, but non-Thais can buy 49 per cent of available freehold space in any condominium. Leases are a maximum 30 years, compared to a minimum 99 years in Singapore and other regional markets.

Bank of Thailand guidance advises financial institutions against loaning money to foreigners wanting to buy property locally. ‘We’d like the government to drop restrictions on foreign ownership of condominiums,’ says Raimon Land chief executive Nigel Cornick. ‘Failing that, then a percentage increase or zones where there could be 100 per cent foreign ownership.’

The resort towns of Phuket and Pattaya are the most popular locations outside Bangkok for foreign investors, with Thais showing less interest in buying there. Mr Cornick says Raimon’s Northpoint beachfront development in Pattaya has already hit the 49 per cent quota after its launch last November. ‘If 100 per cent could be owned by overseas investors, we would have sold the whole project by now,’ he said.

Source : Business Times – 10 Jun 2008

June 24, 2008

Metro grows in China as property play

Filed under: China,General,Genius Thoughts,Property Investment — Propertymarketupdates @ 3:34 am

Q4 net profit rises 34% to $25.6m, helped by fair-value gains

THE property development and investment division of Metro Holdings, which is better known here as a retailer, is providing a bigger share of its earnings as retail revenue dips.

For the financial year ended March 31, Metro Holdings reported revenue of $224.4 million, up 4.8 per cent from the preceding year.

On a business segment basis, its property arm accounted for $49.2 million, up from $35.9 million previously.

For FY 2008, the property division contributed $75.6 million or 87.4 per cent to group pre-tax profit, up from 84 per cent previously. But revenue from retail business eased to $176.4 million, from $179.5 million.

Net profit for the year was $65.97 million, a 3.95 per cent drop. Earnings per share dipped to 10.46 cents from 10.89.

Net earnings were up 34.4 per cent at $25.6 million for the fourth quarter, helped by $14.9 million in fair-value gains from investment properties, while revenue was down 2.69 per cent at $53.2 million.

Metro Holdings, which has office and retail properties in China, said that for the quarter, its property division revenue was $17.2 million, up from $8.9 million in the previous corresponding quarter, due to initial income from Metro City Beijing, higher income from Metro City Shanghai and a one-time recognition of service charges of $4 million.

But Metro is not neglecting its retail business. It confirmed an earlier BT report that it will open a new outlet at City Square Mall near Little India. It will also open a new retail outlet in Jakarta’s Grandaria City.

Metro Holdings occupies more than 821,000 square feet of retail space here, but its group general manager Jopi Ong said that the costs of doing retail business in Singapore is prohibitive.

‘The prices here are definitely too high.’ he said. ‘To operate a department store, you need a lot of real estate.’

Metro Holdings chairman Winston Choo, who joined the company in July 2007, added: ‘In terms of property development and investment, we have no plans for Singapore because I think the opportunities are better in China.’

And Metro’s Chinese property portfolio is set to grow as it increasingly becomes a China play.

It now has 200,000 square metres of net lettable area in China, including Metro Tower Shanghai and GIE Tower Guangzhou.

Also in China, it has 127,500 properties under development including 1 Financial Street, Metropolis Tower and EC Mall, all in Beijing.

Occupancy rates in Metro City Shanghai and Beijing, in which Metro Holdings holds 60 and 50 per cent stakes, were 99.4 and 81.1 per cent respectively.

At Metro Tower Shanghai and GIE Tower Guangzhou, in which it holds 60 and 100 per cent stakes, occupancy was 97.9 and 68.1 per cent respectively.

Metro Holdings said that the lower occupancy at GIE Tower was due to not being able to provide existing tenant KPMG with the extra floor space that it required in the building.

A final dividend of one cent per ordinary share has been proposed.

Metro Holding’s share price closed half a cent down at 78 cents yesterday.

Source : Business Times – 29 May 2008

Nassim condo turns in surprisingly good sales

Filed under: Developer News,General,Property Deal,Property Investment — Propertymarketupdates @ 3:29 am

A LUXURY condominium in the posh Nassim area has turned in surprisingly good preview sales, even as property analysts are predicting a sharp slowdown in the high-end home segment.

Buyers have taken up 38 units at Nassim Park Residences, forking out a whopping $10 million or more for each apartment, sources said.

The 100-unit development, which United Overseas Land (UOL) is building on the former Nassim Park site in Nassim Road, is understood to be priced upwards of $3,000 per sq ft (psf).

The project consists of only four-bedroom and penthouse apartments. Each of the four-bedders is believed to be at least 3,000 sq ft in size, while the penthouses are between 6,000 sq ft and 7,000 sq ft.

UOL declined to comment on the figures yesterday, but sources said the developer might not release some of the units and instead keep them for its own use.

Nassim Park Residences is the first major luxury development to be released for sale this year. Most other launches, especially large, high-end ones, have been held back as developers wait out the market gloom.

Elsewhere, some smaller projects have also seen brisk sales after discounts were offered. Over the Vesak Day weekend, Macly Group sold 60 per cent of the 102-unit Vutton in Novena at a 10 per cent discount off list prices, or about $1,100 psf to $1,400 psf.

Source : Straits Times – 28 May 2008

June 19, 2008

Property prices expected to moderate

Filed under: About Singapore,General,Property Investment — Propertymarketupdates @ 5:29 am

THE Singapore property market has peaked and prices can be expected to moderate in the next two years, the Government said yesterday.

Prices had surged in the past two years because of a supply-demand imbalance, said Mr Ravi Menon, the Second Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

‘The market has been tight across various segments as supply was slow to respond when demand surged in the past couple of years,’ he said yesterday.

However, he felt that the market had already reached its peak.

‘There is supply coming online in the next few years that will offset some of the demand, and expectations are for moderation over the next one or two years.

‘This will provide some relief in terms of cost pressures, which is important when it comes to controlling inflation.’

Source : Straits Times – 24 May 2008

June 11, 2008

Thakral to give up electronics to focus on real estate

Filed under: General,Property Investment — Propertymarketupdates @ 4:44 am

Repositioning of its principal business will be subject to shareholders’ nod

AFTER years of suffering heavy losses, dealing with growing competition and fighting an uphill battle against rampant piracy, Thakral Corp appears to have finally thrown in the towel.

In a surprise announcement posted on the Singapore Exchange last night, the company said that it plans to move away from its principal business of consumer electronics distribution, and move into the real estate industry instead.

Its board of directors, which met yesterday, will look to tap the ’significant expertise and deal flow of its key shareholders, who have extensive expertise in real estate and infrastructure not only regionally, but also globally’.

The repositioning of Thakral’s principal business will be subject to shareholders’ approval.

Without elaborating, Thakral added that going into real estate and related infrastructure investment in the pan-Asian region ‘is expected to offer attractive returns to shareholders in the foreseeable future’.

It was also decided that Thakral could divest those assets that would no longer form part of the company’s core activities, including listed securities it currently holds.

While it prepares for this major transition, Thakral assured that its high-end consumer electronics distribution business would continue as normal. The board promised to achieve the best value possible for the company’s shareholders in divesting the core business.

Efforts to reach Thakral’s management at their Upper Circular Road office were unsuccessful.

In the issued statement, the Thakral board said that it had appointed a committee of directors – comprising vice-chairman Natarajan Subramaniam and non-executive directors Lee Ying Cheun and Andrew James Schwartz – to submit proposals and recommendations on how best to move forward with the proposed change of business.

An extraordinary general meeting of shareholders will be convened, although no time frame was specified.

‘The board believes that the current volatile capital market conditions could throw up significant opportunities which could potentially deliver attractive returns to shareholders,’ said the statement.

Thakral’s latest financial results for the three months ending March 31, 2008 saw it suffer a net loss attributable to shareholders of $535,000 versus a net profit of $217,000 a year ago. This is despite its revenue for the first quarter rising 85 per cent to $88.9 million.

In 2006, Thakral announced its exit from the flagging home entertainment business segment, which was continually held hostage to piracy in China.

And back in 1999, the company was badly hit by a $220 million loss that was then largely blamed on over-hedging against the Japanese yen.

Source : Business Times – 21 May 2008

On the market

Filed under: General,Property Investment — Propertymarketupdates @ 4:16 am

In this weekly column, we bring you a sampling of properties up for sale. In the spotlight this week: Good-class bungalows

Belmont Road, freehold
Land: About 22,000 sq ft
Price: $28 million

Located in prestigious district 10, this bungalow has a wide 27m frontage and is designed in a tropical Balinese fashion.

It has 12,000 sq ft of built-up area and comes with eight bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, an outdoor pool and a private courtyard.

Windsor Park, freehold
Land: 19,200 sq ft
Price: $15.8 million

This district 20 bungalow site is a plot of elevated flat ground that has stood vacant for 40 years.

It faces the north-south direction and overlooks the MacRitchie Nature Reserve. The price works out to about $822 per sq ft (psf).

Binjai Park, freehold
Land: 20,000 sq ft
Price: $19 million

A single-storey house now stands on this sprawling piece of flat rectangular land, situated on the top of a hill.

The district 21 parcel faces south and is located near a cul-de-sac. Its asking price works out to about $960 psf.

Source : Sunday Times – 18 May 2008

Interest in Asian property seen growing

Filed under: General,Property Investment — Propertymarketupdates @ 1:52 am

GIC Real Estate says weaker market favours those taking strategic position

THE sub-prime crisis may have affected Asian property markets, but interest in the sector is likely to grow. The Government of Singapore Investment Corp’s (GIC) real estate arm is also confident about investment opportunities going forward.

‘There is plenty to go around – we will all have fun competing,’ said president of GIC Real Estate Seek Ngee Huat at a property conference yesterday.

Going by the pace at which real estate projects are emerging in Asian cities, Dr Seek believed that there would be a continuous supply to meet different risk-return appetites.

Dr Seek recognised that the sub-prime crisis has weakened Asian markets, particularly Japan and Australia. ‘The contagion effects of the sub-prime crisis . . . can potentially accelerate the downward spin of the current cycle,’ he said.

Nevertheless, the outlook for the property market was not entirely bleak. ‘Weak markets favour those who have capacity to take a strategic position,’ Dr Seek said. ‘The sub-prime meltdown presents threats but there are also opportunities.’

And many around the world are likely to see investment opportunities in Asian property markets as well. ‘Massive build-up of investment funds in the world, coupled with the attraction of Asia as a growth region of the future, will ensure continuous global interest in Asian real estate,’ said Dr Seek. He pointed out that this will inevitably lead to greater competition.

Dr Seek said that GIC Real Estate had focused mainly on developed markets in its first 10 years, and only started investing in Asia in the 1990s. Even then, it was ‘way ahead’ of other institutional investors.

GIC Real Estate ranks among the world’s top 10 real estate investment firms, according to its website. The unit has over 200 investments across more than 30 countries, culminating in a multi-billion US dollar portfolio.

GIC Real Estate had in March, through its affiliate Reco Hotels JV Private Ltd, entered into a joint venture with Host Hotels & Resorts Inc to explore investment opportunities in Asia and Australia. The real estate unit also bought the Westin Tokyo hotel for about 80 billion yen (S$1.05 billion) in February.

Source : Business Times – 16 May 2008

June 4, 2008

Home away from home overseas

Filed under: General,Genius Thoughts,Property Investment — Propertymarketupdates @ 4:59 am

Every fortnight, Mr Shahul Hameed, 50, packs his wife and three daughters into the car and drives across the Causeway.

The family’s retreat is a 2,400 sq ft, two-storey semi-detached house in Gelang Patah, Johor. It is part of a gated community called Leisure Farm Resort Residences, located 30 minutes from Singapore.

Their home away from home is where they can indulge in fishing, cycling and take the occasional boat trip to the nearby island of Tioman.

Mr Shahul, a financial planner with NTUC Income, bought the Balinese-style property, which features dark wood finishes and floor-to-ceiling glass windows, about four years ago for RM537,000.

In Singapore, he owns a 1,600 sq ft condominium apartment in Sims Avenue, which cost him $732,000.

He says: ‘When you have money just sitting in your bank, you tend to spend it. So I thought why not buy a second home nearby?’

The family has benefited from the regular weekend getaways, he claims. Since buying the house, he has consistently exceeded sales targets at work. His three daughters, whose ages range between five and 19, have performed better in their studies.

He adds: ‘I believe a change of environment now and then helps you lead your life in Singapore better.’

Owning a holiday home overseas may no longer be a luxury afforded only by Singapore’s super-rich, as more regular folk like Mr Shahul invest in overseas properties too.

Others discovered by LifeStyle include a teacher, an owner of a small business and a marketing consultant, though not all agreed to be interviewed.

Retired teacher Natahar Bava, 62, and his family own a semi-detached house at Sunset Way. But they spend holidays at their second home at the Kennedy Bay Resort in Perth, where their beach-facing, two-storey villa boasts an unobstructed view of the Indian Ocean.

Mr Bava, who has three daughters aged between 20 and 37, bought the house in 1997 for A$400,000 for his second daughter when she enrolled at a university there.

But the girl chose to live in the university hostel instead, so the property became the family’s holiday accommodation.

They visit as often as three times a year to rejuvenate, often paddling out to sea in a pair of kayaks they own.

‘It was a good turn of events that fulfilled an original dream I had,’ says Mr Bava. In 1982, he had taken a group of students to Perth on a school field trip. Smitten by the tranquillity of the place, he swore to one day own a home there.

‘WA (which stands for Western Australia, the territory Perth is located in) also means ‘wait a while’,’ he says in reference to the slower pace of life there.

Being an ‘average Singapore citizen’, he was only able to afford a place 15 years later, he adds.

There are no exact figures to the trend, but in general, developers and property companies who market overseas projects here point to a growing interest among Singaporeans to put their money in homes offshore.

At Colliers International, which has launched recent projects in places like Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Thailand, business in the overseas sector grew four to five times from 2004 to 2007, says its associate director of international projects Michael Tan.

Executive director of DTZ South-east Asia, Mr Heng Hua Thong, adds that the number of overseas property launches in Singapore has also increased.

‘At least every month you have one project launched in Singapore. That’s definitely more compared to one or two years ago,’ he says.

With the local property market only just settling after a spate of sky-high property prices, it makes sense for some to look elsewhere where risks are not so great, says managing director of Orange Tee Global Properties Dave Loo.

The agency markets developments in places like Malaysia, Thailand, Australia and the United Arab Emirates.

Thailand’s market, for instance, has undergone several tax revisions recently to entice foreign investors. An apartment in a place like Phuket can go for as low as $100,000, adds Mr Loo.

While it is still more common for Singaporeans to buy for investment, he estimates that between 30 and 35 per cent of his customers buy properties to use as holiday homes or for their children who are studying overseas.

For the former purpose, resort destinations like Phuket or Bali are naturally more popular than city locales, he adds.

Prominent National University of Singapore lecturer K. K. Seet, for instance, bought a 2,000 sq ft, Thai-Balinese house in Pattaya for $300,000 in September 2006.

Says the 40-something bachelor: ‘I’ve always wanted a house near the sea, which would be impossible to achieve in Singapore, unless one is prepared to fork out millions for Sentosa Cove.’

He bought the house somewhat unexpectedly while on holiday in Pattaya, and now visits about three to four times a year.

Dr Seet says he was attracted to the city’s contrasting flavours, such as the sight of a high school band performing on a pedestrian boulevard, ‘while go-go girls were twirling around poles in a nearby bar even as busloads of tourists were tucking into a seafood buffet in an adjoining restaurant’.

‘It’s this heady mixture where everything is ‘live and let live’ that is fascinating,’ he adds.

Industry players like Mr Peter Thng, executive director of Reapfield Property Consultants, agree that the demographics of overseas home buyers have diversified to include middle-income earners. The agency has sold properties in Australia, New Zealand, Britain and Malaysia.

He says: ‘This is not surprising given the affluence of the society and also the fact that many have either lived, studied or worked overseas.’

In the 1990s, middle-aged businessmen formed his main group of customers. Today, apart from professionals, ‘civil servants such as teachers and military personnel form the bulk of our client base’, he says.

For Singaporeans scouting for holiday homes, proximity is perhaps the biggest selling point. Properties in the region, such as Malaysia, Thailand and Australia are favoured, though countries like Malaysia – which offer advantageous exchange rates – have extra appeal.

In a recent survey carried out by Malaysia’s Real Estate and Housing Developers Association, Singapore was identified as its top foreign market. Malaysia has a My Second Home programme, which allows foreigners with a certain amount of capital to buy houses there.

At Johor’s Leisure Farm development, 49 per cent of buyers are Singaporeans or expats based here, says its sales manager Peter Lim. ‘Their profiles include professionals, businessmen, people looking for a shortcut to their dream home.’

Indeed, with holiday homes becoming a prized asset, few owners are willing to rent out their place to vacationers to cover costs. Says Dr Seet: ‘I’m not interested. What if they wreck the place?’

Still, those interviewed by LifeStyle say the returns on their investments have been far from poor. Mr Bava, for instance, reckons his Perth abode is now worth more than twice the A$400,000 he paid.

Mr Shahul is even planning to buy a third home at Leisure Farm, a bungalow 21/2 times the size of his current semi-detached house.

If he cannot find a suitable buyer for his existing Johor property, he will still keep it, ‘as a present for my children’, he says with a smile.

‘When you have money just sitting in your bank, you tend to spend it. So I thought why not buy a second home nearby? I believe a change of environment now and then will help you lead your life in Singapore better.’ – SHAHUL HAMEED, a financial planner, who bought his house in Gelang Patah, Johor, which he visits every fortnight with his family, daughter Nur Istiqamah, eight, wife Nur Asyiqin Abdullah, 35, and daughters Nur Diyanah, five, and Zaakira Mahreen, 19

‘It was a good turn of events that fulfilled an original dream I had.’ – NATAHAR BAVA, who bought a house in Kennedy Bay Resort in Perth, in 1997

‘I’ve always wanted a house near the sea, which would be impossible to achieve in Singapore, unless one is prepared to fork out millions for Sentosa Cove.’ – DR K. K. SEET, NUS lecturer, who has a 2,000 sq ft Thai-Balinese house in Pattaya

Source : Sunday Times – 11 May 2008

May 12, 2008

$9.7b price tag for landmark Tianjin eco-city

Filed under: About Singapore,China,General,Property Investment,Singapore Economy — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:32 am

THE ambitious eco-city being jointly built by Singapore and China in this northern port city will cost about 50 billion yuan (S$9.7 billion), officials here said yesterday, while giving the assurance that the project will not benefit only the rich.

This is the first time an official price tag has been disclosed for the landmark project, the biggest bilateral venture between Singapore and China since the Suzhou Industrial Park in the early 1990s.

Unconfirmed reports in the Chinese media had previously estimated the cost of the eco-city at 30 billion yuan.

Mr Lin Xuefeng, vice-chairman of the Sino- Singapore Tianjin Eco-city Administrative Committee, told a press conference here the project would cost about 50 billion yuan to build.

He added, however, that this preliminary estimate could vary, depending on the projected cost tabled by the Sino-Singapore joint venture company building it.

Environmental awareness is growing in China, especially among the property-owning middle class. But the poor and those living in less developed regions continue to struggle with the fallout from all-out economic growth, such as polluted air and poisoned rivers.

Asked if this flagship project will benefit only those who can afford to live there, Mr Lin said planners will draw on the experience of Singapore’s Housing Board to ensure that residents from a wide spectrum of society are housed in the eco-city.

‘Social harmony is first and foremost a housing issue,’ he added. ‘We hope to create a harmonious city that is suitable for different sectors of society.”

According to a draft master plan released yesterday, at least 20 per cent of homes in the eco- city will be public and subsidised. The 2,000 villagers who have to relocate for the project will also be guaranteed jobs and housing in the new city.

The overall population of the city will be kept at around 350,000, though there are no plans to restrict the number of cars, said Dr Dong Ke, a senior urban planner with the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design.

Instead, planners hope to reduce residents’ reliance on cars by setting up an efficient public transport network and by designing walkways linking homes, shops and public spaces.

Another highlight of the plan is the proposed building of a new university focused on environmental technology.

Mr Lin said the university would be vital in providing the technical expertise and manpower required for the eco-city, though it has yet to get the official green light from Beijing.

Showcase

THE eco-city project involves building from scratch a 30-sq-km city in Tianjin that will showcase a good balance between rapid economic growth and environmental protection.

It is hoped the project will be fully completed in about 10 to 15 years.

Plans for the eco-city will draw heavily on the urban planning experience of HDB new towns in Singapore, while incorporating much of the latest technology and expertise on energy and water conservation.

Source : Straits Times – 7 May 2008

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