Located in the South-eastern of the Island, Kallang and Whampoa HDB Town, is home to around 105,200 HDB residents and 39,391 HDB units, giving it an average household size of 2.67; making it well below the national average household size of 3.22. These numbers can be mainly attributed to the large number of elderly population residing since its early days as a township.
The History Of Kallang
The Kallang River is the longest river in Singapore and it runs from the Lower Peirce Reservoir to the Kallang Basin. It is believed the name originated from the aboriginal tribe, Biduanda Orang Kallang that inhabited the area in the 1500s, living on boats in the swamps at the mouth of the river. There are also arguments made in favour of it being the site where Sir Stamford Raffles made his first landing in 1819. Throughout the years till the 1960s, the Kallang River was littered with cargo boats and sampans carrying goods and people for work and leisure.
The Kallang housing estate was initially constructed by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) in 1959, making it one of the oldest housing estates in Singapore. It is also home to many “historic sites” as officially designated by the National Heritage Board (NHB) such as the Central Sikh Temple along Towner Road, the former Kallang Gasworks along Kallang Road, the old Kallang Airport along Stadium link and the Merdeka Bridge along Nicoll Highway to name a few.
Over the last two decades of rejuvenation and improvements to the town, it has become a well sought-after town for residents to live, work and play. And, despite these new improvements, the old charms of hawker fare food and small businesses nestled within, makes it a vibrant place for all ages.
Business Activities Around Kallang
If Tanjong Pagar is seen as a home to big Multi-National Corporations (MNCs), then Kallang would probably be considered as the home to Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs). With the four Business 1 (Industrial) clusters consisting of Kallang Basin Industrial Park, Kallang Bahru Industrial Estate, Geylang Bahru Industrial Estate and Kallang Basin Industrial Estate, there are ample job opportunities for residents to work near home.
Furthermore, given its location within the city fringes and close proximity to popular tourist attractions such as the Marina Bay district, little India and Chinatown, there are also many job opportunities in the Retail and Hotel industry. In 2015, the Hotel Boss was added to this growing list of hotels situated in Kallang. A unique feature of this development is that it integrates the public plaza with the waterfront promenade along Rochor Canal.
Another major employer in the town is the Singapore Sports Hub. Apart from the job opportunities from the large retail space, it also employs various sports professionals through the Singapore Sport Institute. This adds a different dimension to the job opportunities available in Singapore as Kallang transforms itself to become a Sports Hub of the nation.
Kallang Enjoys Great Accessibility To Most Towns In Singapore
Travelling within Kallang and to the other parts of the island via public transport is extremely convenient due to the excellent connectivity to MRT lines such as the North-East Line (NEL), East-West Line (EWL), Circle Line (CCL) and the latest addition, the Downtown Line (DTL).
There are currently 9 train stations from these 4 lines, scattered throughout the town making it accessible for all groups to be within 10 minutes reach to a train station. Additionally, another two new train stations are being constructed as part of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) that is expected to further improve connectivity to the Eastern and Northern parts of the Island. Currently, it takes roughly around 60 minutes to travel to either Woodlands or Jurong East and about 30 minutes to Bishan or Pasir Ris.
There is good news for residents who are motorist. The Kallang – Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) connects to the Pan Island Expressway (PIE) and East Coast Parkway (ECP) making the journey to the East, under 20km or a 30mins drive on clear road conditions. Likewise, the journey to the West, can be undertaken by connecting from the KPE to either the PIE or Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE), making the journey to Jurong East also under 20km or a 30mins drive on clear road conditions. Finally, motorist journeying to the central parts and the northern parts of the island can transit to the Central Expressway (CTE).
With over 11 train stations and close proximity to Expressways, accessibility is the biggest advantage for this town.
Housing Options Within Kallang
There are over 39,391 HDB units in the Kallang/Whampoa New Town, with the ultimate target projected at around 57,000. This means there will be more housing options in Kallang over the coming years.
Over the past 10 years, there had been a total of 9 HDB BTO launches in the Kallang/Whampoa estate yielding a total of around 5,064 units. The supply of new flats has been rather tepid given the strong demand for housing near the city centre by both first-timers and upgraders. Something else to note, is none of the new launches had a 5 – room option. This makes the supply of 5 – room flats or bigger sized units a rare commodity in this mature town.
Let’s look at how the affordability stacks up based on the HDB resale prices.
Table 1: HDB Resale Housing Price (Kallang/Whampoa)
|HDB Resale Housing Price (4th Quarter of 2020)|
|Location||3 – room||4 – room||5 – room||Executive|
|Median Price Range For All Towns In Singapore
(Lowest to Highest)
|265,000 – 421,000
|370,000 – 792,500||422,000 – 917,500||500,000 – 900,000|
The median HDB prices in Kallang/Whampoa based on the 4th Quarter numbers may indicate they are within the mid-price range for all categories.
However, if we were to delve deeper, we will see this is not telling of the full picture. A large number of 3 – room HDB flats in the town are built in the 70s to early 80s and these typically have an asking price of around $280,000 – $350,000. Whereas, a similar 3 – room flat built in the early 2000s, in neighbourhoods such as McNair Road and Upper Boon Keng, can easily have an asking price above $500,000. Likewise, for the 4 – room and 5 – room flats that were built in the 2000s, it can easily command a price range of around $800,000 – $1,000,000, placing it amongst the top 4 priciest towns in Singapore.
In the latest HDB Build-To-Order (BTO) exercise in February 2021, the McNair Heights was launched. With a waiting period up to the second quarter of 2026, we crunch the numbers to see if it’s worth the wait for the successful applicants.
|Project||3 – Room ($Price)||4 – Room ($Price)|
|McNair Heights||359,000 – 453,000||532,000 – 672,000|
|McNair Springs||–||470,000 – 570,000|
|McNair Towers||430,000 – 450,000||535,000 – 715,000|
|Bendemeer Light||600,000 – 700,000||800,000 – 900,000|
Our base comparison project is McNair Heights, which was released in the last BTO exercise in February 2021. It received an overwhelming response for both the 3 – room and 4 – room applications. For the 3 – room flats, the price starts from $359,000 to $453,000, which is similar to the prices transacted over the past one year at McNair Towers. However, the McNair Towers has run down 37 years of its lease since it got its Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) in 1983.
Whereas, if we were to compare the pricing of a newer resale project at Bendemeer Light, the 3-room has an asking price of $600,000 to $700,000. As the project will not reach its Minimum Occupation Permit (MOP) until end 2021, we cannot tell if the asking prices would materialize to actual transaction numbers. Nonetheless, we can assume based on the current resale flats available, the new launch prices do seem to be rather high for a BTO flat. However, if we made the comparison to relatively newer resale flats, we can make an assumption that buyers of McNair Heights would be getting a discount of around $150,000 – 200,000.
Next, we compare the prices of 4-room flats at McNair Heights to the surrounding projects. Based on the recent one-year transacted prices for McNair Springs and McNair Towers, we can see the prices are somewhat similar with the only important difference being the lease balance for both resale projects at around 62- 65 years. Hence, if we compared to Bendemeer Light, the current asking price is in the range of $800,000 – $900,000. As this project has not reached its MOP yet, we are unable to say for certain if buyers will be willing to match the sellers’ asking prices. However, based on the record number of million-dollar transactions of HDBs in February 2021, we do believe these prices may be reflective of market sentiments. In that sense, successful applicants of the 4 – room flats at McNair Heights may be seen to be getting a discount of around $200,000 – $300,000.
Based on the rough numbers crunched, we do see buyers of BTO HDBs tend to get a discount of around $150,000 – $300,000 off current market value. However, the downside is they have to wait 11 years to unlock this gain; 6 years to build and 5 years to reach MOP. Hence, we can also estimate the annualized rate of return to be around 3.5% – 7.5% taking into account a low-profit margin of $150,000 and a high-profit margin of $300,000 for an entry-level 3-room flat.
All in all, Kallang comprises a good variety of public and private housing options, with accompanying amenities and services. From an investment perspective, the numbers do look healthy for buyers as the prices tend to appreciate well given the popularity and convenience of staying near the city fringes.
Education Options Within Kallang
Unlike the Woodlands Town that we covered in our previous neighbourhood round up article, there is a notable difference in the number of Preschool options in the Kallang/Whampoa Town, with only 15 available centres for young parents to choose from. This small number of centres may give rise to some concerns for parents with young children as finding a place for their children at a preschool may be challenging. The only solace comes from the location of these centres which are quite evenly distributed throughout the neighbourhood.
Moving past the preschools, the shortage of schools at the Primary and Secondary level is further exemplified with only 3 options each. Amongst which, Dunman High School has to be specially highlighted as being one of the largest government school in Singapore in terms of physical area. Furthermore, it has the credit of being the top 5 ranking schools in Singapore based on the 2019 PSLE results. It also has the accolade of nurturing 3 President’s Scholars through its Integrated Dunman High Programme, which leads to the Singapore – Cambridge GCE Advanced Level examination.
Here is a list of the MOE based institutions at Kallang.
|MOE Primary School|
|No||Name of School||Location|
|1||Hong Wen School||30 Towner Road, Singapore 327829|
|2||Farrer Park Primary School||2 Farrer Park Road, Singapore 217567|
|3||Bendemeer Primary School||91 Bendemeer Road, Singapore 339948|
|MOE Secondary School|
|No||Name of School||Location|
|1||Northlight School||151 Towner Road, Singapore 327830|
|2||Dunman High School||10 Tanjong Rhu Road, Singapore 436895|
|3||Bendemeer Secondary School||1 St Wilfred Road, Singapore 327919|
|1||Dunman High School (Junior College)||10 Tanjong Rhu Road, Singapore 436895|
What it lacks in quantity, it makes up with its quality. Though there are only a few numbers of schools at both Primary and Secondary Level, there is a top-ranking school at both levels for the concerned “Tiger parents”. That being said, the limited number of schools in the town, comes as no surprise given the ageing population and low household size ratio in the town.
Recreation Facilities In Kallang
Eating probably has to be the biggest recreational activity amongst Singaporeans. And, in this aspect, there is no shortage of food establishments to serve the different palates. There are plenty of options ranging from hawker fare food at Old Airport Road or the Whampoa Market to gourmet dining at the Kallang Wave mall, as there is something that caters to every wallet size and taste.
After eating, next, comes shopping. Despite its close proximity to shopping enclaves of Little India and Bugis, Kallang itself does contain a couple of shopping avenues. The Kallang Wave Mall is a unique sports theme mall with an indoor rock-climbing feature. Adding to this shopping experience, is the Leisure Park Kallang, another mall that houses an ice-skating ring, a cineplex and a bowling centre under one roof.
Kallang is synonymous with Sports activities, from the roaring soccer heydays to the dragon boat races. Officially opened in July 2015, the Singapore Sports Hub was built to support Singapore’s 2030 sports masterplan to forge and bond communities through sports by ensuring sports are inclusive, accessible and affordable to all. Under the Sports Hub umbrella, you have the 55,000-seat National Stadium, the 12,000-seat Singapore Indoor Stadium, an Aquatic Centre and a Water Sports Centre amongst other venues. In addition to these paid venues, are there also 8 other free to play activities that cater to all ages, sports interests and fitness levels. If getting sweaty isn’t your thing, you can either watch the many International Sporting games the Sports Centre hosts throughout the year, or swing to the concert beats by renowned bands.
Lastly, residents in Kallang can expect to be within 400m of a park or park connector. This includes the rejuvenation of the Rochor Canal from Jalan Besar to Crawford Street which includes new features such as lookout decks and seating, bringing people closer to the water. Moreover, residents can enjoy the neighbourhood parks such as the Kallang Riverside Park to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
All in all, there’s plenty of recreational options for one to enjoy without feeling limited by the commercial nodes surrounding the Kallang township.
|Pedigree||Very Good||Historical records suggest Kallang as a colony has its roots as early as the 1500s. Over time, it became one of the focal points for trade and residential developments to take shape as Singapore developed. Apart from the many historic buildings sited within, Kallang is known to be the heartbeat of Singapore Sports. As such, it will always endear to many Singaporeans.|
|Accessibility||Very Good||Connectivity from Kallang to other parts of the island has not been more fluid since the construction of the MRT lines. There are currently four lines and 9 stations serving around this town, with another line and 2 stations to be added by 2024. Furthermore, it is also near to Expressways making a commute by road just as convenient and accessible as it is by train.|
|Affordability||Average||We have rated the affordability as average as there are many older HDB flats going for an affordable sum. However, if we compare to the relatively newer HDB flats with longer leases, than the prices do become rather high compared to other towns. This is to be expected given the strong demand to live near the city fringes coupled with a low supply of flats.|
|Schools||Below Average||As a mature town, it has a low household size compared to other non-mature towns. As such, under the school category, it is rated as below average due to the less than a handful of educational institutions.|
|Recreation||Very Good||There are plenty of recreational activities to do in Kallang. From eating, shopping and taking part in sports, all is possible at Kallang. There is also a park or park connector every 400m for the residents to unwind from the hustle and bustle of city life.|
|Investment Potential||Good||We did some calculations based on the recent HDB BTO launch at McNair Heights and found that it has an annualized return of 3.5% – 7.5%. Though these numbers are good as an investment return, we are, however, concerned by the high prices transacted in Kallang especially for a public housing project. Million-dollar HDBs may not be sustainable in the long run and may invoke the Government’s hand to twitch the current system if prices continue to head higher.|
Cover image credit: Raymond Quek
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