Punggol residential site with historic house put up for sale
Kalpana Rashiwala
Wed, Oct 27, 2010
The Business Times

A HOUSE in Punggol built in 1902 by the father of the late legal eagle Howard Cashin has been put up for sale as part of a 99-year leasehold private residential site launched for tender by the Urban Redevelopment Authority yesterday.

The single-storey house will have to be conserved and restored for use as a clubhouse or private residential use within the new proposed development on the site. Matilda House was acquired by the government under the Land Acquisition Act in the mid-1980s and gazetted as a conservation building on Feb 21, 2000.

The house was built in 1902 by Alexander Cashin, the father of Howard Cashin and son of Joseph Cashin, who arrived in Singapore in the 1840s. Starting out as a lawyer's clerk, Joseph Cashin made his fortune investing in legal opium farms in the 1880s and later, in real estate. Cashin Street, next to Bras Basah Complex, was named after him.

The Cashin family was one of the oldest Irish families to have settled in Singapore and owned several other houses as well as about 400 shophouses here.

Matilda House is named after Mr Joseph Cashin's wife. Mr Alexander Cashin built it as a present for his wife, according to an article in October 2002 in The New Paper. The Punggol seaside bungalow served as a weekend retreat for the family. Sited on the Punggol seafront, it was surrounded by orchards on all sides. The Cashin family also owned about 350 hectares of land in the area on which there were also rubber and coconut plantations.

The house today is in pretty rundown condition sparking some talk about it being spooked.

URA said that Matilda House is an example of an early-style tropical bungalow. Its distinctive features include entrances on both sides of the main building, raised floors, timber lattice and louvred windows and transoms to allow cross-ventilation. It is the only remaining historic bungalow in Punggol Town.

The single-storey Matilda House has an existing gross floor area of about 4,488 sq ft. In addition to this, the successful bidder of the 2.7 hectare site (which includes Matilda House) can develop a total 888,904 sq ft gross floor area of new buildings. This can generate a condominium with about 810 units.

Credo Real Estate executive director Ong Teck Hui describes the plot as a 'plum suburban site with many things in its favour - proximity to Punggol MRT Station, the bus interchange and the proposed town centre, with Matilda House thrown in for uniqueness'.

Based on current sentiment, the site could draw six to 10 bidders with top bids of around $400 to $450 psf per plot ratio (psf ppr), or $355-400 million in absolute quantum.

SLP International Property Consultants executive director Nicholas Mak predicts bids of about $380-420 psf ppr, with five to nine bids expected.

The tender for this site closes on Dec 7.

URA yesterday also launched for tender another 99-year leasehold plot at Seletar Road, slated for development into condominium/flats (up to five storeys) or landed housing/strata landed housing (up to two storeys). If developed into a condo, the 1.7 hectare plot can generate about 270 units.

The site is next to a plot awarded to Far East Organization at a state tender that closed in September last year at $376 psf ppr. Far East is developing Greenwich V (comprising 35 shop units) and The Greenwich, a 319-unit condo, on the site. It released the condo in early August and to date has sold 233 units.

Credo's Mr Ong notes that caveats for The Greenwich have been lodged at about $1,300-1,400 psf for smallish units and $1,000-1,100 psf for more normal-sized apartments.

Mr Ong observed that while the latest site also enjoys a good location in the Seletar Hills area, which is in good demand and which will benefit further from the aerospace hub, 'it is in a way 'landlocked', sandwiched by landed estates, the Greenwich development and a SingTel telephone exchange'.

He predicts four to eight bidders going by current sentiments, with top bids in the $550-600 psf ppr range (or about $145-158 million).

Mr Mak says the site may attract four to seven bids with top bids coming in at $320-360 psf ppr. 'Some of the bidders could be medium-size developers as the absolute land cost is not excessive,' he added.

The tender for this site closes on Dec 14.

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